Introduction to Environmental Studies
Fall 2014  Tuesdays 6:45 p.m. - 9:50 p.m. HSS 263 
Instructor: William Selby

General Information

This introductory course will use an interdisciplinary approach to provide students with a broad perspective on environmental problems and solutions. Students will be introduced to the strategies used by scientists, economists, political analysts, and other writers and researchers to investigate and analyze environmental and urban issues, human/nature relationships, natural and built environments, and environmental citizenship.

Environmental Studies 7 is the same course as Geography 7. Students may earn credit for one, but not both.

  • Two Required Texts: "Visualizing Environmental Science", Berg, Linda R. and Mary Hagar, Wiley/National Geographic, 4th edition 2011 or newer latest edition AND...
    Worksbook, A Sustainability Primer, Sustainable Works, Update Edition (at 1744 Pearl St) (These Worksbook readings are shown in parenthesis on the schedule.) Payment for this Sustainable Worksbook can be made at: . If you are eligible for financial aid, read the instructions carefully on the web site. Cash will not be accepted.  
  • Approach: In this course, we study a wide variety of environmental issues, alternating from general to specific and from global to local scales. As we identify environmental problems, we will focus on solutions to those problems.
  • Lecture and Class Activities: Class lectures, presentations and activities provide you with important knowledge and skills far beyond the scope of our reading assignments. Attend every class session to enhance your learning experience. We are lucky to have a series of expert guest presenters in some class sessions (see below).
  • Contact Info/Office Hours: Feel free to ask for help before or after class, or by appointment. My office is Drescher Hall 314K (you can most likely catch me MW 2:30-3:30 and T 12:45-2 and 5:15-6:15), my phone number is (310) 434-4743 and my e-mail is Web Page:
  • Outside Field Trips: You are invited to attend our optional field trips. Dates: They include our full weekend trip to the Whitewater Preserve on Oct. 24-26 and two local one-day trips on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 and 12 to places such as the Santa Monica Mountains. We will study coastal, mountain, desert and human landscapes and the forces and processes that are shaping them, including natural and human history. To get details, click Geog 35 on my home page.
  • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
    What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies in this class?
    Students will gain a scientific understanding of Earth’s natural systems and cycles. Students will analyze human activity and its impact on Earth’s natural environments. Students will build conceptual foundations of our environmental attitudes, values, and challenges from a variety of perspectives.
    What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies within the more general geography program?
    Students will be able to identify spatial patterns and interrelationships between systems and cycles that affect life and shape landscapes. Students will demonstrate cartographic literacy, including map interpretation and, using spatial analysis skills, will be able to analyze, recognize and evaluate spatial distributions on all scales from local to global  to become better global citizens.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Make sure you are confident of what to do during an emergency in our classroom. Visit this site to make sure you are prepared for any emergency in our class or on campus: 

Grading Policy

You will take four exams total, including the final. Each exam will be worth about 100+ points or 25% of your grade of slightly more than 400 total points. These exams are designed as opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge of the facts and concepts from assignments and class. Each exam is scored objectively by points and will include a variety of question styles. You will also be working through requirements in our Sustainable Worksbook in and outside the classroom that include at least three hours of community service.

YOU MUST NEVER MISS AN EXAM! Dates are on the following class schedule.

Extra Credit/Independent Research

You may benefit from extending your learning experience beyond the scope of this class. Choose a current article out of a book or professional/scientific publication or a web site (no older than 2014) that deals with environmental issues. Read the article and type a one page summary or abstract of that article, attach it to a copy of the article, and hand it in to me. You will find plenty of good journals on line in our library or at others, such as the Santa Monica Public Library and at UCLA. You may earn a maximum of  7 points for each extra credit, but you may complete a maximum of only 4 total extra credit reports for this class. You may submit only one extra credit report in each calendar month of our semester. Last day to hand in your last extra credit is Dec 2. This is not a requirement, but an option to consider. You may also earn extra credit by completing extra projects or service learning beyond the class requirements and writing a summary of your learning experiences. See me if you have questions. 

Important Responsibilities

  • YOU are responsible for any changes (adds/drops) made in your schedule.
  • Academic Honesty: Honest students are protected in this class. A student who cheats in any way will earn a zero and is subject to serious disciplinary action. See me and consult the SMC Academic Code of Conduct if you need definitions, explanations, or other details about this policy.
  • Classroom Conduct: All SMC rules of conduct apply in this class. No food or drink is allowed and no cell phones or any other electronic devices are to be used without instructor's consent
  • Our Schedule below is subject to change, so keep up with our progress!


FALL 2014   HSS 263

Classes Start at 6:45 p.m., with some guest presentations continuing past 8 p.m. After break, class continues till 9:50 p.m.


  • 2: Chapter 1: The Environmental Challenges We Face
  • 9: Chapter 2: Sustainability and Human Values and Chapter 3: Environmental Politics and Economics.
  • 16: SMC and Sustainable Works Change Lives
    Genevieve Bertone leads our Center for Environmental and Urban Studies while Kaya Foster and other professionals at Sustainable Works show how they together continue creating positive ripples across our community.
    Chapter 4: Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards
  • 23: EXAM NO. 1 on all previous readings and presentations.
    Then, Chapter 5: How Ecosystems Work and Chapter 6: Ecosystems and Evolution
  • 30: Chapter 7: Human Population Change and the Environment
    and (Sustainable Worksbook Orientation and Lifestyle Survey)


  • 7: Your Backyard National Park
    Meet National Park Service Ranger Antonio Solorio and others to learn about the many opportunities in our most accessible National Park: the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
    Chapter 10: Freshwater Resources and Water Pollution
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Water Chapter)
  • 14: Chapter 8: Air Pollution
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Energy Chapter)
  • 21: EXAM NO 2: all material since September 23.  
    Chapter 16: Solid and Hazardous Waste
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Waste Chapter)
  • 28: Chapter 11: The Ocean and Fisheries
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Chemicals Week) 


  • 4: Chapter 13: Land Resources
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Transportation/Travel Chapter)
  • 11: Veteran's Day Holiday: No Class
  • 18: Making our City Work and Move Forward
    Our ever popular Denny Zane returns with a progress report on the evolution of our urban landscapes and our region’s public transportation system that is growing into one of the best in the nation.
    Then, Chapter 15: Biological Resources
    (Reviewing Sustainable Worksbook Chapters and Progress)
  • 25: EXAM NO. 3: All material since October 21.
    Chapter 14: Agriculture and Food Resources
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Shopping/Food Chapter)


  • 2: Climate Change Update
    We plan to keep you current on the latest developments in this dramatic global experiment that has captured everyone’s attention; learn about the science that helps explain it and what we might do about it.
    Chapter 9: Global Climate Changes
    Then, (Sustainable Worksbook Wrap Up Chapter)
  • 9: Chapter 17: Nonrenewable Energy Resources and Chapter 18: Renewable Energy Resources
    Current Events, Selected Readings, Special Presentations, Course Summary.
  • 16: FINAL EXAM, same time and place.