Aerial View of Dionne Green

Bio 284 - Syllabus


Course:Biology 284 - Race to Save the Planet

Instructor: Dr. John R Conway

Textbooks: Living in the Environment 10th Edition (1998) by G. Tyler Miller, Jr.

Course Description:

The course provides a dynamic report of the current outlook for the global environment, describing the threats that different natural systems face and dissecting the complex web of interconnections that bind human society to the environment. It includes a background survey of the evolution and ecology of life on Earth and considers the historical, social, economic, and ecological basis of the various environmental problems that plague us currently.

This course is part of the Annenberg/CPB Multimedia Collection and has several components:

  1. A series of 10 one-hour programs produced by PBS
  2. A study guide
  3. A up-to-date textbook
  4. Six two-hour class meetings at the University of Scranton

Course Objectives:

The course will help develop a set of intellectual tools, an understanding of the sciences involved, and ways of thinking about people and the environment that will enable students to evaluate for themselves how serious a given environmental problem might be.

More specifically the telecourse is designed to help students:

  1. Understand how human impacts on the earth have changed through history and why environmental concerns have recently become so prominent
  2. Recognize the major environmental challenges facing modern societies and understand the choices and trade-offs these challenges pose
  3. Grasp the scientific principles underlying basic phenomena of environmental change
  4. Understand the technologies associated with major environmental problems and the technologies that may help solve these problems
  5. Distinguish the environmental impacts of industrial and developing societies, and understand why different types of societies perceive different problems and pursue different solutions
  6. Broaden their familiarity with world geography and international affairs
  7. Understand how the issue discussed in the telecourse are connected to the decision and choices they make in their personal lives


10% Attendance and participation in the six mandatory class meetings. The participation grade will be determined in part by questions asked to students each session over the required reading and TV programs
60% Three exams, each worth 20% of the final grade. Exams will consist of multiple-choice and essay questions over the TV programs, textbook readings and lectures.
20% An in-depth library research paper (at lease 10 typed pages). This paper should survey or investigate an environmental issue of regional, national, or global significance. The topic of each paper must be approved by the instructor and selected by the third week of the semester. The paper should survey recent scientific literature on the subject and document sources with internal citations. The literature cited section should contain at lease four current references (1990 or more recent).
10% Oral report to class based on research paper. Oral reports should be 10-15 minutes long.
Scroll to Top