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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 13-Dec-22

Spring 2023 | ENV-1010-VO01 - Introduction to Environmental Science

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 01-24-2023 to 05-08-2023
Last day to drop without a grade: 02-12-2023 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 03-26-2023 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration


Matthew Davis
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Catherine Garland

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following VSC General Education Requirement(s) for Catalog Year 21-22 and later:
Natural Science
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course is a multidisciplinary study of the interrelationship between living things and their environment. The fundamentals of biology, chemistry, geology, and energy flow are studied so that current environmental issues can be understood and discussed from a scientific perspective. Emphasis is placed on maintaining and restoring sustainable ecosystems.

Essential Objectives

1. Identify concepts of ecology as they relate to environmental issues.
2. Summarize the foundations of nutrient cycling and energy flow as they relate to the movement of matter and energy within ecosystems.
3. Analyze the impacts of population changes on ecosystems, including issues of human population growth.
4. Identify the role of atmospheric thermodynamics and chemistry as they relate to the biosphere.
5. Analyze the causes and effects of the major pollution issues (including but not limited to: climate change, ocean acidification, eutrophication, acid rain, ozone depletion) and outline strategies to restore ecological balance.
6. Compare and contrast methods, impacts, and sustainability of traditional and alternative energy.
7. Discuss the history behind the creation of public lands in the United States and how scientific discoveries influenced the laws and policies behind the modern environmental movement.
8. Analyze the influence of science, economics, ethics, and culture on environmental management and social justice issues.
9. Evaluate environmental issues and solutions from a global, national, local and personal perspective.
10. Research and establish educational, career, and professional goals related to the field of environmental science.
11. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, applying, and evaluating the accuracy of data and information sources.
12. Explain how knowledge created in the natural sciences has contributed to the creation, maintenance and dismantling of social inequalities and discuss the impacts of diversity and inclusion on scientific research and practice.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


This course is intended to introduce students to the fundamentals of Environmental Science. Therefore, the teaching methods employed will provide opportunities for students to experience this discipline first hand.
Learning activities will include but are not limited to the following:
  • Discussion Forums
  • Field Observations
  • Field Journal
  • Mapping Projects
  • Simulations
  • Required readings
  • Current issue analysis
  • Scientific research project

Evaluation Criteria

Class participation and preparation - 20%: You will be expected to contribute to our course "community" as every student has the capability to bring their knowledge to the group. As residents of the natural world we all have some experience the environment, and this experience is very relevant to the topic. Your participation grade will be based upon the frequency in which you participate in discussions and the frequency in which you complete various activities in Moodle. Your preparation grade will be based upon how well you prepare yourself for participation and how well you use the resources provided to do so.

Discussion Forums - 20%: You will be expected to participate in discussion forums weekly and in some cases you will be expected to lead a discussion. You will be assessed based upon your original responses to the instructors posts, your response to your peers, and your initiation of discussions. The following criteria will be considered in assessing your forum contributions.

  • Demonstrating critical thinking.
  • Referencing readings and/or other resources provided.
  • Referencing your own experience and observations.
  • Crafting questions that inspire others to think.
  • Good grammar and use of proper english.

Projects - 20%: There are several smaller projects you will be asked to complete in this course. One will involve researching and presenting on a specific environmental issue in VT. Another will involve completing a simulation of the Carbon Cycle to analyze patterns related to carbon and climate regulation. In addition, you will also be asked to do a mapping project related to your field site (see below).

Field observations and Field Journal - 20%: Because environmental science is an observation based discipline, I will be asking you to spend time outdoors making observations. Iwill expect you to keep a journal of these experiences and attempt to relate your observations to topics discussed in the course. There will also be a "mapping" component of the field experience though this will fall under the "project" umbrella.

Scientific research project - 20%: I will be ask you to complete a research project on some aspect of environmental science. You will arrive at a specific question related to a topic in the discipline and will use this question to direct your research. You have the option of creating an 8-10 slide Powerpoint type presentation, or writing a 5-6 page research paper.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Introduction to Environmental Science


Habitable Planet Unit 1 + 2


Discussion Forums + Units 1 + 2 Questions



Earth's Atmosphere + Carbon Cycle


Carbon Cycle Lab Activity + Carbon Cycle Research Discussion Forum



Energy Flow In Ecosystems


Habitable Planet Unit 4


Energy Flow/Foodweb Simulator + Activity, Food Web Discussion Forum



Weather and Climate


Habitable Planet Unit 12


Reading Questions, VT Weather/Climate Google Map Activity, VT Climate DIscussion Forum



Water Resources


River Reading


Reading Questions, Google Map River Tour, Bloom Discussion Forum



Energy Challenges


Habitable Planet Unit 10


Reading Questions, Electrical Generation Project, DIscussion Forum



Air Pollution + Energy Challenges Cont'd


Habitable Planet Unit 11, "The Subsidy Game"


Energy Lab Activity/Assignment, Discussion Forum



Biodiversity Decline


Habitable Planet Unit 9


Demographics Lab Simulator/Assignment, Discussion Forum





Habitable Planet Unit 7


Reading Questions, ANR Map Viewer Assignment, Agriculture Forum



Health Risks


Habitable Planet Unit 6


Reading Questions, Environmental Risk Mapping Exercise, Discussion Forum



Solid Waste Management


Solid Waste Resources


Solid Waste Resource Questions, Discussion Forum



Laws and Policy


Environmental Policy Resource


Reading Questions, Policy Mapping Exercise, Discussion Forum



Natural Resource Management


Act 250 Readings


Act 250 Assignment, Resource Management Mapping Activity, Discussion Forum



Environmental Advocacy


Discussion Forum, Field Site Journal Assignment



Course Wrap Up


Final Project, Field Site Journal, Final Course Forum


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.