Science 141 Syllabus

Science 2000

Course Title: SCI 141 – Humans within Ecosystems

Term: Fall 2000; Lecture TTH 11-12:30 p.m.; Lab TTH 2 – 4 p.m.

Instructor: Dr. Carolyn L. Thomas

Office: Garber Hall 225; Phone: 365-4368 email:

Office Hours: MWF 11 – 12; MTTH: 1 – 2 p.m.; MWF: 2 – 3 p.m.

Description: This course covers topics related to human and their interaction with ecosystems, especially how changes in ecosystems affect humans and vice versa.  The characteristics of ecosystem changes will be studied through the scientific eye and also through the perspective of the humanities and the Appalachian Culture.  Change as a theme or motif in the arts and humanities, will be compared to the study of change in science, especially in ecosystems.  The literary readings will be used to illustrate how nature and the environment are depicted in Appalachian literature, and to explore other parallels between science and the humanities.  Specific areas of study will include succession, time scales, and change in ecosystems and in literature and art; evolution as an element of change; cycling of materials in ecosystems; and recurring motifs in literature.

Why Take this Class? Environmental science and the study of ecosystems of this world and their potential demise have long been an area of concern for scientists as well as the general public.  Relating the details of science and the study of ecology to each person’s personal experience seems difficult for many people, but it is important for each of us to consider the connections between the environment and other areas of our lives.  This course enables students to relate the characteristics of structure and function of ecosystems to subjects they may be more familiar with already, including Appalachian literature, art, music, history, political science, religion, and other areas of the humanities and the arts.  The information and ideas in this course will prepare the students to become better informed citizens in environmental affairs and to help teach others about the earth and its inhabitants from a scientific and humanitarian point of view.


1.      Ecology and Our Endangered Life-Support Systems (1993) by Eugene P. Odum (required purchase).

2.      Selu-Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom (1993) by Marilou Awiakta (on reserve).

3.      The Lorax (1971) by Dr. Seuss (optional purchase, available on reserve)

4.      Photocopies of lab exercises and additional readings: (required purchase: $5.00).


Class and Lab Meeting Times: Tuesday & Thursday 11 – 12:30 – Lecture and Discussion , Garber  208; Thursday, 2 – 4 p.m. – Lab meeting time, Garber 208

Absence and Lateness: Please do not be late or absent from class or lab.  If you are late or absent from class or lab more than 1 time your final grade may be reduced a letter grade.  This class only meets for seven weeks, so absences are very detrimental.  Ferrum College policy mandates that anyone who misses on-fourth of  the class meetings automatically fails the course.  (See college catalog, p. 37)

Grade Evaluation: There will be one cumulative final exam which will include objective and essay questions and a practical application portion.  There will also be a course project that requires integrating ecological principles and some area of the Appalachian Culture in the humanities or arts, using any appropriate format or media, such as essays, teaching units, posters, videos, or creative artwork.  An oral presentation of this project to the class and instructor will be required.  A journal must be kept recording class and lab activities, results, and responses to activities and readings.  (More detailed requirements for the project, the journal, and essays are described in additional handouts.)

Final grades will be determined according to the following percentages:

Assignment % of grade
Class Project  25%
Oral Presentation 10%
Two Essays 20%
Class Journal  20%
Final Exam 20%
Class Participation 5%

Grading Scale: A = 90-100%; B = 80-89%; C=70-79%; D=60-69%; F=0 – 59%

Tobacco: There will be no tobacco products in the classroom or lab at any time, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco or any other tobacco product.

Honor Code: I expect absolute honesty and will not tolerate cheating, plagiarism (including copying of others’ work and inadequate documentation  of sources used), lying, or disrespect for the other students or the instructor.  You are responsible for reading and understanding the Ferrum College Honor Policy.  Any violations will be presented before the Honor Board or Campus Judicial Board.

LabsYou must attend all labs and must have read the lab assignment before class.  The journal and essay assignments will require you to record activities and impressions from each lab exercise.  The labs will be informal; however, lab meetings will be very busy with many requirements which will take up the two hours, so take care to budget your time in order to complete weekly assignments.

Science 141: Lecture/Discussion Schedule

Course: SCI 141 Humans within Ecosystems

Term: Spring 2000 (first ½ of semester)  TTH 11:00 – 12:30 noon G208

Instructor: Dr. Carolyn L. Thomas





Reading Assignments

1.          Jan. 10-14          Introduction of course, books, instructor, and topics Policies & syllabi

Jan. 15

Life Support Environment
Field Trip to Floyd and Rock Castle Gorge

Prologue & Chap. 1 (Odum)
“Mother Nature Sends a Pink Slip” by Awiakta (on handout)


Jan. 17-21

Succession and Development of Ecosystems

Chap. 7 (Odum)


Jan. 24-28

Description of Ecosystems
Description of Appalachian Mountain Ecosystem
Patterns in Picture Books and Poems
Oral Presentations: student projects (2)

Chap. 3 (Odum)
The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)

4. Jan. 31- Description of Ecosystems (cont.) Chap 3. (cont.)

Feb. 4

Views of the World in Myth and Folktales
Oral Presentations: student projects (2)

Other readings will be on handouts*


Feb. 7-11

Material Cycles and Physical Conditions of Ecosystems
The Environment in Science Fiction
Oral Presentations: student projects (2)

Chap. 5 (Odum)
Other readings


Feb. 14-18

Different Ecosystems of the World
The Individual & the Environment in Coming-of-age & Survival Stories
Oral Presentations: student projects (2)

Chap. 8 (Odum)
Other readings


Feb. 21-25

The Transition from Youth to Maturity in Ecosystems; Modernization in Appalachia
Review of Topics and Course
Oral Presentations: student projects (rest of students)

Epilogue (Odum)

Notes: The reading assignments must be read by Tuesday of the week they are assigned (Thursday during the first week). Any changes in assignments and dates will be announced in class. This includes additional short readings on handouts that are not listed above. The course project must be completed by 2:00 PM, February 24, 2000, and an oral presentation made no later than the same date.

Science 141: Tentative Lab Schedule

Course: SCI 141 – Humans within Ecosystems (a Science 2000 course)

Term: Spring 2000 (first ½ semester) TH 2-4 p.m. G208

Instructor: Dr. Carolyn L. Thomas

Lab Exercise Descriptions: Handouts with lab exercises must be read before each lab. Written Assignments:Lab activities and responses will be recorded in journals and essays.  (See handouts on journal and essay requirements.)  Any changes in lab schedule or assignments will be announced in class.





Laboratory Exercises

1.        Jan. 13        Field Observation of evidence of changes, both natural and human, at the Blue Ridge Institute Farm Museum.

  Jan. 15  

Rock Castle Gorge Field Trip




Jan. 20


Lab Exercise demonstrating process of change by evolution and population genetics studies.
1.  Genetic Drift
2.   Natural Selection
3.   Hybrid Vigor




Jan. 27


Field and Lab Exercise studying the succession of an old field to a forest.  Part 1. Old Field Sample




Feb. 3


Field and Lab Exercise studying the succession of an old field to a forest.  Part 2. Forest Transect




Feb. 10


Lab Exercise on decomposition and recycling




Feb. 17


Field and Lab Exercise studying aquatic succession




Feb. 24


Final Exam for course 2 – 4 p.m.