Approved by University Studies Sub-Committee January 22, 2003

Approved by Faculty Senate February 10, 2003

 

University Studies Course Approval

Department or Program: Geoscience

Course Number: 103

Course Title: Resources of the Earth

Catalog Description: An investigative exploration of significant global resources with emphasis on fossil

fuels, non-fossil fuels, water and other energy resources. Geologic processes governing each are

explored. Prediction, impacts, economic and political scenarios are examined. Offered yearly.

This is a new course proposal YES (If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval

Form must be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)

Department Contact Person for this course: John Donovan, 114D Pasteur Hall

The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in (select one area only):

Course Requirements

A. Basic Skills: (October 4, 2000) C. Unity and Diversity: (January 17, 2001)

______ 1. College Reading and Writing ______ 1. Critical Analysis

______ 2. Oral Communication X 2. Science and Social Policy

______ 3. Mathematics ______ 3. a. Global Percpectives

______ 4. Physical Development / Wellness ______ b. Multicultural Perspectives

______ 4. a. Contemporary Citizenship

______ b. Democratic Institutions

B. Arts & Sciences Core: (November 1, 2000)

______ 1. Humanities ______ 3. Social Science

______ 2. Natural Science ______ 4. Fine & Performing Arts

b.

Flagged Courses: (February 14, 2001)

______ 1. Writing

______ 2. OralApproval/Disapproval Recommendations

______ 3. a. Mathematics/Statistics or Critical Analysis

Department Recommendation: Approved ______ Disapproved ______ Date ______

Chairperson Signature _________________________________ Date ______

Dean’s Recommendation: Approved ______ Disapproved ______* Date ______

Dean’s Signature _________________________________ Date ______

*In the case of a Dean’s recommendation to disapprove a proposal a written rational for the

recommendation to disapprove shall be provided to USS.

USS Recommendation: Approved ______ Disapproved ______ Date ______

University Studies Director’s Signature __________________ Date ______

A2C2 Recommendation: Approved ______ Disapproved ______ Date ______

A2C2 Chairperson Signature _______________________ Date ______

Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved ______ Disapproved ______ Date ______

FA President’s Signature _____________________________ Date ______

Academic Vice President’s Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date ____

VP’s Signature __________________________________ Date ______

President’s Decision: Approved ______ Disapproved ______ Date ______

President’s Signature ____________________________ Date ______

The purpose of the Science and Social Policy requirement in the University Studies

program is to promote students understanding of the interrelated concerns of society and the

sciences. These courses should integrate issues related to one of the sciences with the social

and government policy decisions that stem from these issues. Issues might include the

environment, genetic testing and mapping, applications of technology, etc. They should be

treated from the perspective of the scientific foundations of the problem and address ethical,

social, historical, and/or political implications of the issue.

Geoscience 102, Resources of the Earth, will be offered as a mid-sized (50-70 students)

introductory general-education lecture section. The Geoscience Department intends to offer the course

without prerequisites so that the course can serve the general student population. This is a new course,

developed by the Department in response to both the needs of the University Studies program and the

global crisis related to resource supply, management, and development. The department believes that

the content covered in this course is critical to developing a scientifically literate citizenry.

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities

to . . .

a. understand the scientific foundation of the topic;

The scientific focus of this course is on the geologic processes associated with the development of a

variety of natural resources that students hear about regularly in the news media. The text for the course

is a science book devoted to the topic. The scientific material presented in this class focuses on how and

where major natural resources form. The course will also consider the differences between renewable

and non-renewable resources and the relationship of that definition to economics. Course lectures are

designed to help students understand the fundamental link between resources and their standard of

living, capitalism, etc. To aid student understanding of these topics the course instructors make liberal

use of non-departmental reading sources which students might otherwise be unfamiliar with.

b. understand the social, ethical, historical, and/or political implications;

The format within each of the major topics covered in this course will remain consistent, and will take the

following approach:

A. Types of resources

B. Details specific to each resource; i.e., the geologic processes involved

C. Prediction/impact of future activities.

Each topic is covered in the same general fashion; we attempt first to help all students understand what is

meant by resources vs. reserves. This begins with a social/economic perspective in that one might ask

whether a major difference exists and what its impact on humans and society might be; i.e., shortages,

declining living standards. Resources are explored in the context of predictability, impact on society, etc.

The course will clearly address social, political and economic implications, particularly as students

consider the issue of renewability. For example, do we develop resources regardless of the social or

environmental costs? Do we separate quality of life vs. quantity of life when we address the standard of

living?

We illustrate to students that scientists are not always correct (an important concept to understand if we

are to advance scientific literacy) in predicting future development of resources. We attempt to tie the

issues of resource use and management to current political issues: for example, by considering whether

we can maintain our living standard without reliance on Middle East oil, or whether the potential of war

with Iraq might be based upon the need to obtain greater access to oil reserves.

c. understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy;

Unless the population is scientifically literate, any social policy established with regard to science would

necessarily be shortsighted and ill informed (likewise, socially uninformed scientists could not make

appropriate policy). In order to make reasonable, informed, and appropriate policy, it is absolutely

necessary to consider all the inputs to each issue. One example considered in this class relates to the

resources we import and from where. The federal government provides statistics to the general public,

but interpretation of the statistics is often problematic. Terminology is always a barrier in these public

discussions. One goal of this course is that students critically evaluate what they hear or see on the

news.

d. evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science;

In the context of this course, the scientific facts are that resources are perceived by society as unlimited,

whereas in reality they are wasting assets and hence subject to depletion allowance by most world

governments. For our society to persist at our very high consumptive level we must deal with the issue of

management of limited natural resources. This is where policy and policy options come into conflict with

both scientific and social needs.

Students will explore the various options available and propose options of their own design.

e. articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with

the challenges created.

This outcome is very closely related to outcome d (above). In the activities for this course, the process of

evaluating a variety of policy options leads naturally to students choosing which they prefer and defending

their positions. Course activities directed to this outcome include staging debates among small groups,

where student groups research their position, and then defend that position against another group taking

an alternative view, or short written assignments, where students must choose a position and defend that

position in writing, either as a separate assignment or as part of an exam.

SAMPLE SYLLABUS

GEOS 102—Resources of the Earth

Purpose of Class

The purpose of this class is to provide the student with an exploration of significant resources impacting

society with emphasis on fossil fuels, non-fossil fuels, water and other global energy resources. Geologic

processes governing each type of resource is explored. Prediction, impacts and mitigation of the above

resource issues are examined. Global resource exploration and development is considered to help

students understand its relationship to economic development.

The focus of this course is a geologically oriented survey of resources and the geologic impact on human

activity and society. The course will look at the geologic processes that lead to these varied resources

and discuss means of prediction and/or prevention and issues related to social policy and political

ramifications of dealing with resources. One of the main objectives will be to present geologic processes

in an integrated global perspective, outside of the classic U.S.-centered perspective. A secondary

objective is to help students understand the significance of being scientifically aware and the impact of

science in their daily lives. This will be accomplished by a combination of lecture, small-group activities

and investigative exercises.

Logistics and Policies

This course is designed to stimulate and challenge your thinking. This is a 3 credit, non-lab, University

Studies class, that will, upon successful completion of course requirements, satisfy your University

Studies obligation in the area of Science and Social Policy. There are no prerequisites for this course. If

you can balance your checkbook, you can do the math that will be required. You should strive to achieve

as complete and sound a scientific interpretation as possible by trying to integrate information across

discrete chapters of the text.

Because scientific understanding does not progress in a vacuum—it is through discussions and

arguments with colleagues that most advances stem—I encourage you to work in groups and to discuss

your ideas and to work through confusing concepts with your classmates. One of the best ways to study

and understand and learn is to form a small study group—quiz one another. Make up questions that you

think I’d ask on the exam, and be certain you can answer them. If you can accurately explain a concept

to your peers, then you can feel comfortable that you understand it. If you’re confused in doing this,

you’re likely to be confused about the material.

Class attendance is essential for success. You are responsible for knowing what is covered and

assigned in class regardless of whether or not you are present.

University Studies Compliance

Successful completion of this course will fulfill the Science and Social Policy category of the University

Studies Program (3 s.h.). Courses in the Science and Social Policy category of the University Studies

Program must include requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:

a. understand the scientific foundation of the topic;

b. understand the social, ethical, historical, and/or political implications;

c. understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy;

d. evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science; and

e. articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the

challenges created.

The purpose of the Science and Social Policy requirement in University Studies is to promote

students’ understanding of the interrelated concerns of society and the sciences. These courses

should integrate issues related to one of the sciences with the social and government policy

decisions that stem from these issues. Issues might include the environment, genetic testing and

mapping, applications of technology, etc. They should be treated from the perspective of the

scientific foundations of the problem and address ethical, social, historical, and/or political

implications of the issue. This course integrates issues in the geologic sciences with the related

social and policy issues focusing on global resource management, response, and mitigation. I will

expect that you have some basic familiarity with world geography, and that you are anxious to learn

about issues of global significance (this course will not simply be focused on resource use and

management in the US). We begin by addressing the fundamental questions of where and how

natural resources form (outcome a), how natural resources are defined (outcomes a, b, and c), and

who governs how natural resources are used (outcomes a, b, and c). Once the scientific framework

is established (outcome a), we can more adequately address the appropriateness of policy issues

related to natural resources (outcomes b, c, d, and e).

Grading

There will be a total of three exams during the semester. Each exam is worth 50 points and consists of

multiple choice and true/false questions. Exams will not be comprehensive; that is, each exam will cover

a third of the course material.

Letter grades representing percent are: A = 100-85%, B = 84-75%, C = 74-60%, D = 59-50%, and F =

less than 50%.

There is no grading curve (everyone can earn an A). There are no make-up exams: an exam missed with

a documented, acceptable excuse is prorated; i.e., the average of the other exam(s) is used for the

missed exam.

GEOS 102—Resources of the Earth

Fall Semester Dr. J. F. Donovan Office: Pasteur 114D

Lecture Room: XX Time: XX Office Hours: See Office Door

Course Description

GEOS 102— Resources of the Earth (3 s.h.) A global study of earth’s natural resources. Consideration

of geologic processes, economic, political and social issues surrounding resource exploration,

development, use and management. Emphasis on origin, global distribution, reservoirs, reserves, and

future trends in natural resource development. Lecture only, offered yearly, no prerequisite.

The format of the course will be consistent during the semester. Rather than repeat a feature numerous

times in the course outline, I will describe it first and then list the general topics we will cover in the

course. Therefore, you will achieve the University Studies outcomes (a-e) for each topic we cover. We

will explore the scientific foundation (outcome a) of each topic via a combination of lecture, video, and

other media resources. Once everyone has the opportunity to understand the science behind each topic,

we will explore the social, ethical, and/or political implications of the issue (outcome b; the specific

coverage will necessarily vary with each topic). Small-group activities and exams will require that you

demonstrate your ability to articulate the need to integrate consideration of social issues with their

scientific underpinnings and to evaluate, articulate, and defend the various policy options relevant to each

resource issue we consider (outcomes c, d, and e).

The format within each of the major topics covered in this course remains consistent and takes the

following approach:

A. Types of resources

B. Details specific to each resource; i.e., the geologic processes active

C. Prediction/impact/mitigation

Required Text: Craig, James, et al. (2001), Resources of the Earth, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall, 520 pages.

Course Outline

I. Introduction to and Origin of Resources

A. Abundance and availability of earth resources

B. Interdependence and complexity of sources

II. Energy Resources

A. Fossil fuels

B. Non-fossil fuels

C. Renewable sources

III. Mineral Resources

A. Metals

B. Non-metals

C. Industrial and strategic materials

IV. Water Resources

A. Marine sources

B. Non-marine sources

V. Future Resources

A. Hydrogen, fusion, methane economy

B. Economic, political, social impacts

C. Plate tectonics as an underlying and dominant force