Syllabus for EAS-201

THE SCIENCE OF NATURAL DISASTERS


COURSE DESCRIPTION

Designed both for professionals working in the field and for students seeking a science elective, The Science of Natural Disasters focuses on developing a scientific understanding of the causes and mechanisms of common natural disasters. The perspective is global and historical while focusing on contemporary events and potential for catastrophe. The emphasis of the course is on earthquakes, volcanic activities, flooding, and severe storms and the consequent secondary disasters they can trigger. The course also addresses some of the social, economic, and political ramifications of these events.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define basic terminology foundational to the study of natural disasters and apply this vocabulary to specific situations.

  1. Identify and discuss major geological and meteorological theories and concepts (including specific facts and classifications of phenomena).

  1. Articulate how and why specific events occur, explaining specific causal factors and where these situations coincide.

  1. Develop mitigation strategies or evaluate existing mitigation plans.

  1. Differentiate between natural disasters and human-induced phenomena.

  1. Interpret real and hypothesized scenarios, some involving multiple variables operating simultaneously.

  1. Identify specific risks associated with specific geographical locations and resulting from specific phenomena.

COURSE MATERIALS

You will need the following textbook to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

  1. Natural Disasters, 9th ed., by Patrick L. Abbott (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014).

    ISBN-13: 978-0-07-802287-6

COURSE STRUCTURE

The Science of Natural Disasters is a three-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include an overview, list of topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: Introduction; Energy Flows and Plate Tectonics

  1. Module 2: Earthquakes

  1. Module 3: Volcanism and Mass Movements

  1. Module 4: An Introduction to Weather and Climate

  1. Module 5: Floods and Fire

  1. Module 6: Mass Extinctions and Impact of Asteroids

ASSESSMENT METHODS

For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in eight (8) graded discussion forums (six module discussions and two ongoing, weekly forums), complete six (6) written assignments, and take two (2) online examinations: a proctored midterm and a proctored final exam.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

The Science of Natural Disasters requires you to participate in eight (8) graded discussion forums (six module discussions and two ongoing, weekly forums). There is also an ungraded but required Introductions Forum in Module 1.

The two weekly forums—titled What Is a Natural Disaster? and Disasters Update—enable you to address questions like, What constitutes a natural disaster? and What role does humankind play in creating and exacerbating natural disasters? on an ongoing basis throughout the course.

In the What Is a Disaster? forum, you post weekly updates to your definition of what constitutes a natural disaster based on your reading and your growing awareness of the field.

In the Disasters Update forum, you report on one natural disaster (or potential disaster) in the news each week, providing a link to the story, if possible, and writing a brief summary of what is happening and why you think it is significant. You may report on a natural disaster in progress or update information about the impact, recovery, or mitigation plans of a recent event.

Communication and collaboration among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation, including your use of relevant course information and your awareness of and responses to the postings of your classmates. Remember, these are discussions. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

For posting guidelines and help with discussion forums, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete six (6) written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules. They consist of short essay questions based on the assigned reading.

Read through the written assignment questions before you begin each module. Your answers to the assignment questions should be well developed and convey your understanding of the course materials. Formulate responses in your own words (do not merely copy answers from your reading materials), citing text materials where appropriate and in an appropriate manner.

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

For help regarding preparing and submitting assignments, see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.

Examinations

You are required to take two proctored examinations: a midterm and a final. See the course Calendar for the official dates of your midterm and final exam weeks.

For both of these online examinations you are required to use the College’s Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

 

Online exams are administered through the course Web site. Consult the course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Midterm Examination

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material from Modules 1–3 of the course. The exam consists of forty (40) multiple-choice questions and three (3) essay questions.

Final Examination

The final is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two hours long and covers all material from Modules 4–6 of the course. Like the midterm, the final exam consists of forty (40) multiple-choice questions and three (3) essay questions.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find an answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or, in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your exams. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take an exam.
  5. Copying any part of an exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at an exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

GRADING AND EVALUATION

Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (6)—12 percent
  2. "What Is a Disaster?" forum—2 percent
  3. "Disasters Update” forum—3 percent
  4. Written assignments (6)—33 percent
  5. Midterm exam (proctored, Modules 1–3)—25 percent
  6. Final exam (proctored, Modules 4–6)—25 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:

A

=

93–100

C+

=

78–79

A–

=

90–92

C

=

73–77

B+

=

88–89

C–

=

70–72

B

=

83–87

D

=

60–69

B–

=

80–82

F

=

Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a nonarea of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments and taking module tests, posting group activities, and scheduling and taking your examination.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.

Plagiarism

Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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