GEP 200 Syllabus

Instructor Professor Daniel Soto
Office Stevenson 3016E
200.1 Meeting Time M/W 1:00 -- 2:15 pm
200.1 Classroom Stevenson 1002

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] in your subject line. This helps me identify and respond to student emails more quickly.

Course Catalog 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.

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.

The section-level learning objectives are available on the course website.

Class Organization and Schedule

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 20 Aug - Mon 27 Aug (Class 1 - 3) Fundamentals and Science
  • Wed 29 Aug (Class 4) Human Population
  • Wed 05 Sep - Mon 10 Sep (Class 5 - 6) Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Climate
  • Wed 12 Sep - Mon 17 Sep (Class 7 - 8) Pollution
  • Wed 19 Sep - Mon 24 Sep (Class 9 - 10) Review and Midterm 1
  • Wed 26 Sep - Mon 01 Oct (Class 11 - 12) Markets and Commodities
  • Wed 03 Oct - Mon 08 Oct (Class 13 - 14) Institutions, Commons, Ethics
  • Wed 10 Oct - Mon 17 Oct (Class 15 - 17) Risks and Hazards
  • Mon 22 Oct - Wed 24 Oct (Class 18 - 19) Political Economy
  • Mon 29 Oct No Class
  • Wed 31 Oct - Mon 05 Nov (Class 20 - 21) Review and Midterm 2
  • Wed 07 Nov Intersections and Questions
  • Mon 12 Nov - Mon 19 Nov (Class 24 - 25) Climate Change
  • Mon 26 Nov - Wed 28 Nov (Class 26 - 27) Indonesia Case Studies
  • Mon 03 Dec - Wed 05 Dec (Class 28 - 29) Review and Midterm 3

Coursework Components and Requirements


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. There is frequently an assignment the night before to prepare for our work in class.

Class Texts

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


  • Homework 30%
  • Classwork 30%
  • Exams 40%

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. You will find the assignments on Canvas.


You can find the PDF files for the readings in this folder. The reading assignments will be available on Canvas and announced in class.

Midterm and Exam Schedule

Midterm 1 Mon 24 Sep 2018 In class
Midterm 2 Wed 24 Oct 2018 In class
Midterm 3 Wed 5 Dec 2018 In class
200.1 Finale Wed 12 Dec 2018 2:00 -- 3:50 pm

You can verify the final exam dates at this link.

Class Norms and Agreements

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.

Excused Absences

If you miss class due to an unexcused absence, you will receive a zero on that day's classwork grade.

I grant excused absences when I receive a notification before the start of class with a brief and compelling reason for the absence. You do not need to reveal any personal information in your reason.

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

Question Forum

We will maintain a forum on Canvas 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.

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

An important skill is self-regulation against distractions and electronic devices are a potent source of distraction.

However, 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.

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.