GEP 200 Syllabus

Instructor Professor Daniel Soto
Office Stevenson 3016E
200.1 Meeting Time M/W 9:20 -- 10:35 am
200.1 Classroom Stevenson 1002
200.2 Meeting Time M/W 5:25 -- 6:40 pm
200.2 Classroom Darwin 103

Office Hours and Email

Signup is online and can be accessed through my website at Please meet with me during office hours for any grade checks or other issues that require individual attention.

When you send email, please put [GEP 200.1] or [GEP 200.2] in your subject line. This helps me identify and respond to student emails more quickly.

Course Description

Lecture/discussion, 3 hours. An introduction to environmental studies and planning, including: humans in relation to the global ecosystem; an overview of problems of energy use, pollution, resource depletion, population growth, food supply, urbanization, climate change and biodiversity; and the search for solutions and future prospects. Satisfies GE Area D5 (Contemporary International Perspectives).

Contemporary International Perspectives studies major economic and political dimensions of human activity, including consideration of differential access to natural resources, wealth, and power within and among the world’s nations.


We will frequently perform group work in class to gain practice on the concepts presented in the lecture and readings. This work will be turned in at the end of class. If you miss class due to an unexcused absence, you will receive a zero on that day's classwork grade.

Please use this Excused Absence Form to submit a request for an excused absence.

Class Texts

You are not required to purchase any texts for this class. All course readings will be made available online.



  • Quiz and exam average of 60% or above
  • Satisfactorily complete over 60% of homework assignments
  • Satisfactorily complete over 60% of in-class assignments


  • Quiz and exam average of 70% or above
  • Satisfactorily complete over 70% of homework assignments
  • Satisfactorily complete over 70% of in-class assignments


  • Quiz and exam average of 80% or above
  • Satisfactorily complete over 80% of homework assignments
  • Satisfactorily complete over 80% of in-class assignments


  • Quiz and exam average of 90% or above
  • Satisfactorily complete over 90% of homework assignments
  • Satisfactorily complete over 90% of in-class assignments

Our gradesheet by student number is available here

Late Work

To reinforce habits of consistency and accountability, as a rule late work is not accepted in this class. However, students often have circumstances beyond their control that interfere with their studies. If you believe you have a compelling case for a late assignment, make an office hours appointment with me and I'll consider granting an extension.

Class Organization

The class will be broken into three sections, separated by the midterm exams.

Part one: Natural Science Fundamentals

We will learn some of the science that we use to understand how our environment behaves. The science you learn provides one way of understanding environmental issues.

Part two: Social Science Fundamentals

We will cover topics in social science that provide valuable tools for analyzing and explaining how environmental problems come to exist because of human behavior. In each of these we will show how they can be seen as the sources of problems but also as potential solutions.

Part three: Intersections

We will go in depth into a few topics and apply the fundamentals we learned in the first two sections of the course to these topics. This is where we will practice relating concepts and recognizing connections between topics.

Course Schedule

  • Mon 22 Jan - Mon 29 Jan (Class 1 - 3) Fundamentals and Science
  • Wed 31 Jan (Class 4) Human Population
  • Mon 5 Feb - Wed 7 Feb (Class 5 - 6) Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Climate
  • Mon 12 Feb - Wed 14 Feb (Class 7 - 8) Pollution
  • Mon 19 Feb - Wed 21 Feb (Class 9 - 10) Review and Midterm 1
  • Mon 26 Feb - Wed 28 Feb (Class 11 - 12) Markets and Commodities
  • Mon 5 Mar - Wed 7 Mar (Class 13 - 14) institutions, Commons, Ethics
  • Mon 12 Mar - Wed 14 Mar (Class 15 - 16) Risks and Hazards
  • Mon 26 Mar - Wed 28 Mar (Class 17 - 18) Political Economy
  • Mon 2 Apr - Wed 4 Apr (Class 19 - 20) Review and Midterm 2
  • Mon 9 Apr (Class 21) Intersections and Problem-Posing
  • Wed 11 Apr - Mon 16 Apr (Class 22 - 23) Climate Change
  • Wed 18 Apr (Class 24) Sustainability Days (No Class)
  • Mon 23 Apr - Wed 25 Apr (Class 25 - 26) Indonesia Case Studies
  • Mon 30 Apr - Wed 2 May (Class 27 - 28) California Case Studies
  • Mon 7 May - Wed 9 May (Class 29 - 30) Review and Midterm 3

Reflection Essays

You will complete a number of short essays that ask you to connect the concepts in class to current events or to your own experience. The lists and topics are below along with the dates we will discuss them in class. You will be provided with online links for the assignments. These are due the night before the class where we will discuss them.


Below is a schedule of the readings and the dates we will discuss them in class. We may have an open notes reading quiz on any of these days. You can find the readings in this folder.

  • Wed 24 Jan 2018 - Miller 1 Environmental Problems
  • Wed 24 Jan 2018 - Miller 2 Science, Matter, Energy, and Systems
  • Wed 31 Jan 2018 - Miller 6 Human Population
  • Mon 5 Feb 2018 - Miller 3 Ecosystems
  • Mon 5 Feb 2018 - Miller 7 Climate and Biodiversity
  • Wed 7 Feb 2018 - Miller 8 Aquatic Biodiversity
  • Mon 12 Feb 2018 - Miller 18 Air Pollution
  • Wed 14 Feb 2018 - Miller 20, 21 Pollution
  • Mon 26 Feb 2018 - E&S 3 Markets and Commodities
  • Mon 26 Feb 2018 - NC 13 Making Markets Work
  • Mon 5 Mar 2018 - E&S 4 Institutions and the Commons
  • Wed 7 Mar 2018 - E&S 5 Environmental Ethics
  • Mon 12 Mar 2018 - E&S 6 Risks and Hazards
  • Mon 26 Mar 2018 - E&S 7 Political Economy

Midterm and Exam Schedule

Midterm 1 Wed 21 Feb 2018 In class
Midterm 2 Wed 4 Apr 2018 In class
Midterm 3 Wed 9 May 2018 In class
200.1 Finale Wed 16 May 2018 8 am -- 9:50 am
200.2 Finale Mon 14 May 2018 5 pm -- 6:50 pm

You can verify the final exam dates at this link.


Respectful tone in classroom

Civility is required from all students during discussions and interactions. In general, I expect students to be completely supportive of each others learning goals.

Minimize electronic distractions

Internet-connected electronic devices (phones, tablets) may be used in class for learning purposes. If these devices distract from your learning or your classmates learning I reserve the right to limit their use.

Willingness to take risks and experiment

I frequently try new approaches to teaching and learning. These are always with the intention of making this class as beneficial to you as possible.


We will maintain a forum where anyone in the class can post questions and answer them. If you have a question that doesn't require privacy, please post it in the forum. This allows everyone to benefit from the question and contribute to a solution.

Course-level Learning Objectives

  • Understand the relationship between social, political and economic systems affect wealth, power, and natural resources within and among nations.
  • Identify and describe the role of natural science and social science concepts in global environmental issues
  • Identify and interpret reliable materials on global environmental issues
  • Construct evidence-based arguments addressing global environmental issues
  • Develop consistent and sustainable work habits.

University Policies

There are important University policies that you should be aware of, such as the add/drop policy; cheating and plagiarism policy, grade appeal procedures; accommodations for students with disabilities and the diversity vision statement. Go to this URL to find them.

Basic Needs

Any student who believes their performance in the course may be affected by their access to sufficient food, stable housing, or their citizenship status is encouraged to seek out assistance from Sonoma State. If you are comfortable with it, please notify me as well so I can help direct you to any available resources.