GEO 1105 -- Changes

Wed Dec 9 11:44:37 2009

Effective Term: New:  1113 - Spring 2011
Old:  1089 - Fall 2008
Proposal Changes: New:  Update of course syllabus for CLE consideration
Old:  Update course equivalencies
Sponsor E-mail Address:
Student Learning Outcomes: * Student in the course:

- Have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry


Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

GEO 1105 is designed to help students master a body of knowledge about how their world works and become familiar with modes of scientific inquiry that provide a different, more complete, perspective of the world they live in. Lectures stress concepts over details, helping students understand geology from a more holistic, systems-oriented perspective that will stay with them when individual facts and figures have faded. The gathering of data, the development of thought and the importance of the empiricism and the scientific method are treated at length, coupled with discussions of the history of geology. Students leave GEO 1105 well versed in the modes of geologic inquiry. This awareness is also developed through practice in lab where students make, interpret and document their own measurements and ideas.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Evaluation is based on written assignments and. In each, students are asked to address questions that combine concepts from lecture and readings and require synthesis of several threads. We avoid as much as possible asking memorization based questions¿they don't test mastery, they test memory. By focusing questions and writing on concepts, we feel we assess mastery well.

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- Can communicate effectively


Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

There are two writing components¿the geo-action adventure movie script and the science diaries¿that are graded for content, but also for style and grammar. These exercises require students to put into words their understanding of geology. Student communication skills are bettered by timely feedback on writing (with rewrites when necessary).

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Detailed evaluation of written assignments including revision of the initial script proposal.

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- Understand the role of creativity, innovation, discovery, and expression across disciplines


Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

Geologists routinely deal with highly incomplete datasets. We are forced to extrapolate over the globe and through 4.5 billion years of Earth history on the basis of limited exposures of rocks at the present-day surface of the planet. As a result, our science requires creative thinkers and promotes discovery. Through lab and lecture, GEO 1105 introduces students to these aspects of geology. Further, through the use of movies depicting geology, student authored geo-action adventure movie scripts and student science diaries, students are shown the range of expression in the field and are challenged to express their own creativity and ingenuity.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

We evaluate our success in several fashions: (1) by assessing the level of creativity in student written scripts and (2) by posing questions in writing assignments and quizzes that address the roles that creativity, innovation and discovery have played in the geosciences and (3) by evaluating the effectiveness of student writing, making it clear that effective communication is a pre-requisite to the dissemination of knowledge.

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- Have acquired skills for effective citizenship and life-long learning


Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

The course is explicitly designed to help students acquire the skills and background knowledge necessary to be more effective citizens of a global community that faces some very serious environmental issues. Film clips provide a portal to public perception of science and scientists that is countered by classroom discussion of real world examples of creativity, innovation, discovery and expression in the physical sciences. Writing assignments develop student skill in communicating science in popular forms. Exposure to the scientific method and the diversity of modes of inquiry to be found in geology gives students tools for assimilating the vast amounts of information coming their way in the digital age and helps them contextualize and evaluate competing narratives and ideas.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

This SLO is the foremost consideration in structure and delivery of GEO1001 and GEO1101¿our goal is to produce informed citizens whose base in the geosciences is both broad and firm, enabling them to see geology in their lives everyday. As such, all methods of evaluation bear on this: do students understand the importance of limited resources, of global change, of the interplay of solid, liquid and living components of our planet, of the pace of natural processes, ¿ We teach to these topics and tests and writing assess student mastery

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this course fulfills:
New:  ENV - ENV The Environment
Criteria for
Theme Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed theme requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or methods.

Theme courses have the common goal of cultivating in students a number of habits of mind:
  • thinking ethically about important challenges facing our society and world;
  • reflecting on the shared sense of responsibility required to build and maintain community;
  • connecting knowledge and practice;
  • fostering a stronger sense of our roles as historical agents.

New:  Background Information:
Note: GEO1105 is offered in conjunction with the lecture section of GEO1005.  

One section of GEO 1105 every year provides students with a dependable option to fulfill their environmental theme requirement. Students face no prerequisites beyond the University¿s entrance requirements.  GEO1105 has been taught by full professor Justin Revenaugh since its introduction in 2004 with one exception (spring 2007 when Kent Kirkby substituted).  His teaching reviews for 2004-2006 are available online through the OneStop course evaluation site and are strong.   He intends to continue offering this highly popular course yearly for at least the next five years.

GEO1105 is taught as a physical sciences course not a first course for geology and geophysics majors/minors.  It draws from high school-level biology, chemistry, physics and, to a lesser degree, mathematics as it develops the modern framework of geology.  Earth processes are usually slow and often global.  They cannot be understood by casual observation, but rather require the complex synthesis of disparate lines of evidence and theory.  As such, their elucidation provides tremendous insight into the scientific method.

Geology is unusual in that its most important theorems (Plate Tectonics and Global Change) are young.  Some of the evidence used to formulate and support these two organizing theorems, especially the latter, is still subject to considerable debate.  Discussion of these debates and the recent development of geology¿s grand theorems offers students insight into scientific dialog, the importance of paradigms, and the central role of technology in the sciences.  The course exploits this by organizing individual lectures around one or two important hypotheses of geology.  Results from many physical sciences disciplines that apply to the questions at hand are developed and integrated into the current consensus view.  Considerable attention is paid to the importance of hypothesis testing (and the power of scientific prediction) and the process of hypothesis formulation.

The extensive use of movie clips (and a few full-length features) exposes students to the endurance and societal impact of common myths and misconceptions, the power of new media to inform (and misinform) and to shape opinion and beliefs, and the importance of proper and compelling communication of science.

Environmental Theme
Throughout the course, stress is placed on the interaction of life and the physical Earth system.   As this is a geology course, these interactions range from those of the present day to events buried in deep time.  While both ends of the temporal spectrum are important to geology, only the former (the recent) qualify the course for the environmental theme, so the following refers only to those.  Example topics include: human engineering of river systems and the attendant impacts on fisheries, agriculture, and landscape evolution; the extraction of natural resources and its environmental consequences; the anthropogenic influence on global climate change and resulting impacts on society; and the distribution, exploitation and contamination of sparse groundwater resources.

The second half of the course primarily deals with Earth¿s surface processes, including the atmosphere and ocean systems.  We stress their connections with the evolution of life and the present-day environment.  We also discuss human impacts on these systems and their consequences¿groundwater pollution; urban runoff and river flooding; and the increase in global mean temperature, desert and semi-arid land areas and storm intensity, and sea-level rise resulting from carbon-based energy production.  The majority of the movies chosen feature centrally the impact of geologic processes on society and the usually vain attempts by man to control them.  While sensationalized, they serve as excellent springboards to broader discussion in class.

A major objective of this course is to make our students more informed citizens with respect to environmental issues.  We try to provide them with a general sense of the nature of the Earth: how it works, how it has evolved, how it shapes human activity and vice versa.  Although the course serves only as a general introduction to these things, lecture topics have been chosen to emphasize those aspects of the Earth most necessary for developing informed opinions about environmental issues.  

What follows are some specifics with regards to fulfilling the three criteria of the environmental theme.

(a)        Raises environmental issues of major significance.  Examples include: global warming in the context of global change, soil erosion, natural hazards and civilization, and the finite nature of physical resources and consequences of their extraction and use.

(b)        Gives explicit attention to interrelationships between the natural environment and human society. Examples include: displacement of vast numbers of people in lowland coastal environments due to global warming induced rise in sea level, fisheries depletion as a result of river diversion and flood control, increased flood frequency in urban watersheds due to enhanced surface runoff, and the rampant use of essentially non-renewable groundwater resources in crop irrigation.

(c)        Introduces the underlying scientific principles behind the environmental issues being examined.  Examples include: the nature of greenhouse gases and feedbacks in the climate system augmented by discussion of quantified past changes in the system, the basics of groundwater flow and discharge, and slope stability as regards land use policy in forestry and mining.

As this environmental approach is atypical of traditional science courses, lists of lecture topics are provided to show how environmental and societal themes are woven throughout GEO 1105.

Integration of Environment Theme into Lecture Program
The complex interaction between humans and their environment is a dominant theme woven throughout the course.  What follows is a chronological list of GEO1105 lectures.  In each, topics relevant to the Environmental theme are italicized.

Geologic natural disasters of the previous 12 months
        Dramatic examples of Earth affecting people and society
        Exacerbation of disasters by land-, energy-, and resource-use choices

Introduction to the Earth
        What is geology?
        The scientific method in geology
        Birth of the solar system
        Basic structure of the Earth
Plate Tectonics: the central organizing theorem of the solid earth
        Continental Drift (as history)
        Modern theory of plate motions/creation/destruction
        Plate tectonics, aridification of Africa and hominid evolution
Volcanic and seismic hazards and civilization: why do most people in the world live in the shadow of a pending geologic disaster?

Minerals: the building block of rocks and thus the alphabet of geology
        Formation of minerals
        Important mineral groups
        Minerals as resources
        Minerals and microbes, biomineralization and mineral-mediated life
        Diamonds, their distribution and societal impacts of extraction

Igneous rocks and volcanism (two lectures)
        Formation of magma
        Formation of igneous rocks
        Volcanoes and the relation of plate tectonics and volcanism
        Living with volcanoes: climate change, soil production/fertility, hazard

Sedimentary rocks
        Types of sedimentary rocks
        Sedimentary structures
        Weathering and soils
        Sedimentary rocks as resources and impacts of their utilization

Metamorphic rocks
        Types of metamorphic rocks
        Environments of metamorphism
        Metamorphic rocks as resources and impacts of their utilization
Hydrothermal metamorphism and the birth of life?

Earth deformation
        Mountain belts, orogeny
        Faults and folds
Topography and climate: India¿s monsoons, uplift of the Himalayas and global change

        Cause, location, prediction and phenomenology
        Living with earthquakes: seismic hazard

The rock record and geologic time
        Geologic time
        Relative vs. absolute time
        Radioactivity and dating of earth materials
        Age of the Earth
        Uniformitarianism vs catastrophism vs creationism

Brief history of life on Earth
        Classifying life
Proterozoic through the Phanerozoic, life on Earth
        Evolution and extinction
        The Permo-triassic extinction and regeneration of the Earth¿s flora and fauna
        The end-cretaceous extinction, dinosaurs and large  impacts
Comparison of present-day extinction rates with geological estimates: contextualization of human impacts on biosphere

The Climate System
        Earth's atmosphere/hydrosphere/biosphere basics
        Basic atmospheric dynamics
        Inputs, outputs and feedbacks
        Climate, water, land use and civilization

Erosion and mass wasting
        Uplift and erosion
        Mass movements
        Plate tectonic ties
        Erosion and land use
        Human aggravation
Stabilizing the Los Angeles hillsides
Glaciers and Ice Ages
        Rheology, creation and behavior of ice
        Dying glaciers and global change
        The effects of continental glaciation (destruction and renewal)
        The Pleistocene ice age
        The cause of ice ages

Groundwater: use, misuse and dynamics (two lectures)
        Permeability and flow
        Water table dynamics
        Reservoirs and recharge
        Water as a natural resource
        History of water on Earth
        Tapping the groundwater supply
        Groundwater usage problems
        Groundwater contamination

Rivers and floods (two lectures)
        Flow and work of water
        Stream channels
        Streams and the landscape
        Rivers as a vanishing resource
        The Mississippi as an example of massive engineering: control and consequence
        Human activity and floods, fish and agriculture

Oceans and coasts: circulation, coastal dynamics and human management (two lectures)
        Controls on chemistry
        Waves and coastal dynamics
        Coastal problems and solutions
        Loss of land: sea level rise
Wind and deserts
        Desert processes
        Landscapes, erosion and deposition

Ancient Climates and Climate change (two lectures)
        Biogeochemical cycles
        Global climate change
        Plate tectonics and change
        Return to aridification of East Africa and the descent of man
        Anthropogenic changes in the Earth system
        The future of the Earth's climate

Natural resources
Emplacement and extraction
Stewardship and environmental aspects
Energy sources, choices and implications
        Impacts and life

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Please provide a provisional syllabus for new courses and courses in which changes in content and/or description and/or credits are proposed that include the following information: course goals and description; format/structure of the course (proposed number of instructor contact hours per week, student workload effort per week, etc.); topics to be covered; scope and nature of assigned readings (texts, authors, frequency, amount per week); required course assignments; nature of any student projects; and how students will be evaluated.

The University policy on credits is found under Section 4A of "Standards for Semester Conversion" at . Provisional course syllabus information will be retained in this system until new syllabus information is entered with the next major course modification, This provisional course syllabus information may not correspond to the course as offered in a particular semester.

New:  GEO1005/1105 Geology and Cinema

Instructor:         Justin Revenaugh
        211 Pillsbury Hall (Eastbank)

Course Webpages:
This should appear in your "My Courses" link.

General Description
Earth has a fascinating 4.55-billion-year history that is written in stone and readable by geologists.  Life, land, oceans and atmosphere are linked through processes occurring at Earth¿s surface and in the interior of the planet.  Some of these processes, like continental drift, are stunningly slow, while others, like large impact events, are horrifyingly quick.  Although geologists have been studying these processes for centuries, much of what the general populous knows about the goings-on of the Earth comes not from scientists, but rather from the popular media, most notably film.  Unfortunately, much of what you are told by Hollywood is wrong, often very wrong.  This course sets the foundation of modern geology, along the way exposing the enduring myths promulgated in film and educating students on a variety of environmental issues such as climate change, natural resources, river management and the history of life.  

This course fulfills the CLE Environment Theme.   The part of Earth we experience is the product of multiple complex systems, driven by the interaction of light, air, water, life and rock.  Geology is one of many disciplines that examines these systems and interactions.  Water, Earth's most precious resource, is involved in the vast majority of geologic processes.  Those processes and time have determined where fresh water is and isn't.  Urban development, agriculture and industry, in the US and elsewhere, have developed without much consideration of long-term water availability.  We are now entering period where water shortages are increasingly common, not as a result of drought, but of overuse, waste and poor planning.

In this class we will examine many environmental issues surrounding water, including groundwater pumping and contamination, flooding and urbanization, the effects of dams and other forms of river engineering, and changes in rainfall related to global change.  Shortcomings in our technologies (e.g., climate forecasting) and conflicts between societal inertia and limited resources have and will continue to result in inefficient use of water, exaggerating the impact of its limited supply.

The Environment Theme is found through GEO1005, not just in lectures pertaining to water.  A short list of examples includes: earthquake hazards and population centers; early human evolution and climate change; mineral resources; and the geology of diamonds and development of the diamond industry.   In each case what we know, what we are capable of technologically and the importance of our societal values and past choices play important roles in how we react and respond to environmental opportunities and stresses.

There will be five quizzes during the semester, four during regular class meetings and a fifth quiz during finals week.  All are multiple choice.  The four in-class quizzes will be 30 minutes long (or less) and will cover only material introduced after the prior quiz.  The final quiz is one-hour long and will have some comprehensive questions regarding the primary themes and concepts of the class.  In terms of computing your grade, it is equal to two in-class quizzes.  Otherwise, all quizzes are equal in value.  I do not discard the low score.  To prepare you for each quiz, a sample quiz will be posted to the course website.

Writing Assignment
You will write a geology action-adventure movie script.  This will be submitted in two parts.  The first is a movie proposal¿a one-page description of the primary plot points of your movie.  It will have been read and approved by at least five classmates prior to submission.  Part two is the ¿script¿ itself, which should be about three to five pages in length, featuring character write-ups, plot points, sample dialog, and trailer text.  The best five of these will be ¿tested¿ in class and the author of your favorite will receive a prize very much worth winning (but which will remain secret for now).  

Lab (1005 Only)
Lab starts the second week of class and continues through the semester.  Most lab meetings will find you completing a series of experiments or observations and writing up your results.  These are usually straightforward if you skim the lab manual before class and pay attention to the TA.  In addition, there is a lab quiz covering mineral and rock identification skills, and a group experiment/presentation.  The latter takes place the last week of the semester.  More detail will be provided later, but know that these are meant to be informative allow you to convey your results, express your knowledge and showcase your creativity in a very free-form environment.  They are not intended to be painful public speaking hazing rituals.  They are important to your lab grade total.

Lectures and Readings
All readings are from The Essential Earth by Jordan and Grotzinger.  Buy it and read it, preferably before class.

20-Jan        Introduction/Role of Geology in
a Liberal Education/Importance of
Geology in Society        Chapter 1       
Introduction to Earth and Plate Tectonics        Chapter 2       
Plate Tectonics/Role of Military Technology in the Discovery of Plate Boundaries         Chapter 3       
Journey to the Center of the Earth       
Rest of JCE/Minerals/Uses of Minerals        Chapter 4       
Igneous Rocks        Chapter 5        Quiz 1
Igneous Rocks/Volcanoes        Chapter 5       
Rest of Volcano/Volcanoes/Volcanic Hazard vs. Growth Patterns in Third-World Countries       
Sedimentary Rocks/Meta Rocks        Chapter 6       
Meta Rocks/Folding/Faulting        Chapter 7       
Earthquakes/Earthquake Hazard in the
Context of Urban Planning        Chapter 13        Quiz 2
Telling Geologic Time/Accuracy/Skeptiscism        Chapter 8       
History of Life/Arguing for Evolution        Ch. 9 pp 239-248       
The Climate System/Influence on
Society        Chapter 10       
Glaciers and Ice Ages/Discussion of Ecological Change in Upper Midwest in Last 10,000 Years¿Questioning the Notion of "Untouched Wilderness"        Chapter 10       
Ice Age: The Meltdown       
Groundwater/Conflict Between
Supply and Use/People vs. Agriculture vs. Industry/Geography        Chapter 11        Quiz 3
Rivers/River Engineering vs. Ecological Systems        Chapter 12       
Floods/Urban Planning/Technological Limitations on Hazard Reduction        Chapter 12       
Oceans         Chapter 12       
Tidal Wave: No Escape       
Coasts/Land Use Issues        Chapter 12       
Wind and Weather        Chapter 10        Quiz 4

Deserts/Desertification/Greening the
Deserts (e.g., Phoenix AZ)        Chapter 12       
Ancient Climates and Change        Chapter 14       
The Day After Tomorrow        Chapter 14       
Rest of TDAT/Climate Change       
Resources/Limitations of Technology
Constraints of Modern Economy and
Societal Norms        Chapter 1       

May 14        Final Quiz
        8:00 am to 10:00 am in SmithH 100

Student performance in the course will be judged on the basis of lab work (weekly assignments, the quiz and the group experiment/presentation); writing assignments; and the five quizzes.  The weighting of quizzes, lab work, and writing assignments is 50-30-20 (70-30 quizzes to writing for 1105 students). Regardless of your total score, you must achieve a cumulative passing mark (better than 68% after any curve is applied) on the quizzes to pass the class with a C- or better.   Students who achieve a higher total percentage, but fail the sum of the quizzes can do no better than a D+.   Why?  Because the quizzes are the only component of the course on which you cannot work collaboratively.  How you do on them is the clearest indicator I have of how much you have learned.

Academic Honesty
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.  You may discuss writing assignments and lab questions with your classmates, but all work submitted must be your own. Anyone caught cheating on quizzes (which includes allowing others to copy answers) will be subject to an academic dishonesty report and will AUTOMATICALLY FAIL THE CLASS¿NO EXCEPTIONS.   The same is true of the writing assignments and lab.  There are no exceptions to this policy¿no free passes, no leniency for minor cases, no anything.  Cheat and get caught and you fail.  It's that simple.

Your education is costing many people (you, your parents, taxpayers in MN, taxpayers in the US) a lot of money.  It's an opportunity that few people outside the US enjoy.  It's preparing you to be an informed citizen, a lynchpin of democracy.  Given all of that, why would you cheat?  Just do the work, do it by yourself, acknowledge the words of others when you need to use them, and don't devalue your education.

Late Assignments/Absences
Assignments will be distributed in class and submitted in class or to the instructor's mailbox. I cannot accept any assignments submitted via email.  There are simply too many people, too many file formats, too many viruses and too much room for "Gee, I sent it last week, are you sure you didn't get it..." shenanigans.  

There is no grace period for late assignments without prior consent of the TA or instructor.  

All students are given one "free pass", a late assignment that I will accept¿no questions asked¿up to one week past the due date.  All subsequent late assignment scores drop 20% per day and will not be accepted five calendar days past the due date.  Important note: you cannot turn in material for credit past one calendar week after the due date, free pass or not.

Exceptions are made for valid excuses, such as illness/death in the family or a medical note regarding your own illness.  Long spring breaks, hangovers, road trips, busy greek activities schedule, and the like are not valid excuses.  Don't bother me with them.  The quiz dates are known and will not change¿don't schedule anything for those days.  If you already know that you will need to miss one or more quizzes because of prior commitments that are not valid excuses, then drop the class now.  

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