Approved by Faculty Senate.


(Link to Microsoft Word Version)

University Studies Course Approval:

Department or Program: Biology

Course Number: BIOL 104

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Conservation

Catalog Description: Problems in the wise use of natural resources with emphasis on human impacts and sustainable living. Lecture only. Offered each semester.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2: Yes

This is a new course proposal: No

(If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)

Department contact Person for this course: Robin Richardson


A2C2 requires 55 copies of the proposal

The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in—

Course Requirements:

A. Basic Skills:

1. College Reading and Writing ____

2. Oral Communication ____

3. Mathematics ____

4. Physical Development and Wellness ____

B. Arts & Sciences Core:

1. Humanities ____

2. Natural Sciences ____

3. Social Science ____

4. Fine & Performing Arts ____

C. Unity and Diversity:

1. Critical Analysis ____

2. Science and Social Policy X

3.a. Global Perspectives ____

b. Multicultural Perspectives ____

4.a. Contemporary Citizenship ____

b. Democratic Institutions ____

D. Flagged Courses

1. Writing ____

2. Oral ____

3.a. Mathematics/Statistics ____

b. Critical analysis ____

Approval/Disapproval Recommendations

Department Recommendation: Approved __X_ Disapproved _____ Date 19 Oct. 2001

Dean’s Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date

USS Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date

A2C2 Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date

Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date

Academic Vice President’s Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date

President’s Decision: Approved Disapproved Date

Material Submitted for Course Approval

Course Outline (for distribution to students)

BIOL 104 Conservation

BIOL 104 Conservation is a multi-purpose course. It is intended to simultaneously satisfy the needs of students with respect to the University Studies Program goals and satisfy requirements for teaching certification in the tri-state area. The course offers a global perspective of issues most students will encounter including global warming, ozone depletion and resource limitation. Several themes weave through the entire course including: opinion formation, skepticism born of scientific inquiry and sustainability.

This course is taught with an enrollment of about 180 students in a large auditorium, such as ST103 or PA201. The course typically overfills with enrollment between 180 and 190. Efforts are made early to contact students individually with mandatory office visits and small group exercises. Most of the students enroll in the mega-section to remain anonymous (according to evaluations), but attempts are made to open interaction for those who are interested.

Grades are determined by performance on three exams, two debates, a proposal and a series of exercises and quizzes. Students may choose to complete a proposal, an exercise that has the potential to replace an exam or debate. The three exams are in multiple choice and matching format. The emphasis is on critical thinking, discriminating the correct response from similar alternatives. The two debates encourage teamwork. Students are assigned groups and opinions. The groups meet during and outside of class, researching their assigned opinions and organizing the information into an effective debate. Teams have three spokespersons, presenting an introduction, rebuttal and summary. Grades are assigned by team-mates and peers on other teams.

Exercises include opinion formation and small group tasks. These have proven effective for increasing students’ awareness of alternative views and allowing students to discard na´ve notions. Groups are assigned by random drawing of colored paper, a process that never allows the same individuals to inhabit the same group. Typical exercises ask the group to read and outline a short media piece (newspaper, magazine or Internet) and discuss alternative viewpoints. They then poll the group for opinions and discuss the basis of each opinion.

In addition, students complete a proposal. They choose any topic related to conservation, outline a problem and propose a solution. Topics have ranged from local issues such as making the campus more environmentally friendly to global issues. Students build models, design web or PowerPoint presentations and present their ideas to the class.

Course evaluations show that students feel they learn best from the debates and proposal preparation. They also react positively to the group activities.

Course Philosophy: Conservation is one of the most relevant classes you could take. We are alive during a key period in earth history. Everyone will be expected to be curious about the earth and its occupants. Questions will be answered that reflect this curiosity while those dealing with grade-oriented problems are best answered in office hours.









Understand the scientific foundation of the topic Understand the social, ethical, historical and/or

Political implications

Understand/articulate the need to integrate issues with policy Evaluate policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed

By the science

Choose and defend an option that best copes with the challenges


Debates X X X
Group projects/small discussion groups X X X
Quizzes/tests X X X


Grade Determination: You can (and should) keep track of your grade as it will be based on the percentage of points offered (listed below) that you can earn. Quizzes will be both announced and unannounced and I expect you to attend class so I assign exercises and pop quizzes as if everyone is always there. If you know that you will miss and may need to make up work, I must be notified before you miss. This is prerequisite to obtaining a make-up OK but you must also receive my acceptance of your excuse. Make-up exams are very difficult and require a proportionately important reason. Do not take the likelihood of a make-up for granted!

Points offered: 3 lecture tests @ 100 pts each=300 points

quizzes and exercises=100 points

two debates @ 50 pts=100 points

total possible=500 points

You may do a project (explained the first day) and use it to replace your lowest test score. Since it is extra credit there is no make up if you miss a deadline.

Keep up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to: understand the scientific foundation of the topic.

The course contrasts scientific knowledge to the domains of religion and philosophy. This clarifies the scientific perspective, an emphasis that is reiterated throughout the course. Required readings are discussed in class, emphasizing the difference between the scientific approach and the approach in the media. Group activities lead students through the maturation of opinion-formation based on scientific approaches. Early in the course, we do an assessment exercise designed by developmental psychologists to determine our relative developmental stage in opinion formation. Later exercises guide students towards becoming mature opinion-makers. With maturity comes the ability to understand the rational, scientific foundations of conservation. These themes are brought together on the quizzes and tests.


2.Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to understand the social, ethical, historical, and/or political implications.

The group discussions promote student understanding of all of the implications of conservation. The students are given a topic for discussion and must explore all of the results of their opinions. Many students come into the class with the opinion that they "have a right to their opinion" and failing to perceive the implications of their opinions. Discussions with their peers are the most effective mechanisms for change of these opinions. Most students are not fundamentally rational, relying on emotion-based learning to a large extent. Faced with a litany of rational facts by a lecturer is an ineffective way of getting them to reflect on their conservation-related opinions.

Conservation is a problem-solving science. The central problem is sustainability. Students must continually face the question "How can this practice be made sustainable?" Sustainability is multi-faceted (must simultaneously deal with the social, ethical, historical and/or political implications) and dynamic (it changes as the world changes).

3.Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy;

Understanding and articulating the integration of science and social policy is the crux of the debates. Students participate in two sets of debates, choosing different roles for each debate. The roles include researchers, speakers, handlers and organizers. The tasks of the first two are obvious. Handlers call group members and arrange meetings outside of class. Organizers gather the research and arrange the information into material for the speakers’ presentations. The students concentrate exercises emphasize cooperation and collaboration and have always proven successful in this regard. Each team writes a single, multiple choice question for the next exam. The questions from the first debates are notably less reasonable (compared to later efforts). The class reacts to each question when we review the test results and question-quality improves markedly for the second exam. The quality of this exercise directly reflects the students’ growing ability to articulate integration of social policy with science.

4.Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science;

Social dilemmas insinuate every aspect of conservation. How highly developed countries such as ours solve their resource limitation problems impacts the solutions available to lesser developed countries and the resulting dilemmas form a core theme of conservation. Students face these dilemmas during the group discussions and they share their conclusions with the rest of the class. The proposals are specifically focused on one set of dilemmas (of the student’s choice) and provide an opportunity to follow options through to a logical and workable conclusion. In addition, students must evaluate the options as they observe and participate in the debates. A continual theme is the extension of local problems onto a global scale. The text (required reading) follows this general organization, with each environmental problem introduced in terms of scientific principles and general facts. Students are then asked to extend these principles logically and derive the global issues.


5.Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the challenges created.

This is the central function of the proposals. Students choose a conservation issue and attempt to articulate a solution that copes with the challenges created. They work on their proposal for the entire term, interviewing area professionals (including our Physical Plant personnel if their chosen issue demands) and presenting a solution to the class during the last week of class.

The success of the debates relies heavily on the students’ ability to articulate their assigned opinion. We utilize Internet resources critically as I remind them that anyone can put "information" on the Web and we need to determine if it represents good information. The atmosphere in the class is one of positive skepticism. Lecture and required readings are open to discussion and frequently spawn discussion of the scientific merit of widely held beliefs. The debates expose many scientific misconceptions (depending on the instructor’s topic choice).

Tests and quizzes provide the opportunity for students to choose among various policy and scientific options. The assessment tools (tests and quizzes) follow up on group discussions and debates during which students are exposed to the pro’s and con’s of each option.