Syllabus for ENS-360



This course is designed to enhance the student’s awareness of global sustainability and of the relationship between sustainability and social justice issues. Students will analyze the principles of sustainability and relate them to their understanding of environmental science and U.S. environmental policy. Biodiversity, population growth, extinction and resource use are just a few of the topics that students will view in a sustainable and socially equitable context. This course will provide students with the background required for developing strategies for a sustainable and just future.



After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Analyze the concepts of sustainability and social equity in their modern contexts.
  2. Appraise the history of environmental policy in the United States and the major factors that have contributed to unsustainable practices.
  3. Examine the scientific principles underlying ecosystems, biodiversity, speciation, and extinction, as well as the effects of human activity on ecosystems.
  4. Illustrate the fundamental principles of population growth and population dynamics.
  5. Examine the effects of unsustainable practices on water and air quality as well as the role of human activities in climate change.
  6. Appraise social equity issues related to food production and availability as well as water quality.
  7. Interpret issues related to energy use and initiatives in energy production.
  8. Examine societal methods for developing sustainable living habits that will be socially equitable for all.


You will need the following materials to complete your coursework. Some course materials may be free, open source, or available from other providers. You can access free or open-source materials by clicking the links provided below or in the module details documents. To purchase course materials, please visit the University's textbook supplier.

Required Textbooks

(Open Source Textbook Initiative)  View online or obtain free download from:

The following is an alternate source for the Theis/Tomkin text:]


Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice is a six-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, answer case study questions, take a proctored midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for details.

Consult the course Calendar for due dates.

Promoting Originality

One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.

Discussion Forums

In addition to an ungraded Introductions Forum, you are required to participate in six (6) graded online class discussions.

Communication with your mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online class discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses.

All of these responses must be substantial. 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 or your mentor, state and support your position.

You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation, including your use of relevant course information to support your point of view, 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, mature, and respectful.

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. and it is within the assignments that you will most fully demonstrate your mastery of course objectives. Specific directions for content and length are included in each Module Details page. However, the written assignments include between 2 and 5 questions, and you are expected to write at least one page--usually more than one page--for each question.  Because this is a 6-credit course, the reading and writing assignments will be more extensive than in many other courses. Often you will be asked to take a position on a topic and will be expected to use academic sources (properly cite, see next paragraph) to support that position.

Your response must follow APA format guidelines and should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document file. (If you cannot submit your file in in Word, please discuss other options with your mentor before submitting your first assignment.)

Case Studies

You are required to read case studies and answer questions in modules 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. (There is no case study in Module 2).

Your answers should be thoughtful and complete, and may include references to the textbook or to outside sources.


Midterm Examination

You are required to take one (1) proctored online examination: a midterm exam. For the midterm, you are required to use the University'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.

You are required to take a proctored midterm examination. The exam is two and a half hours long and covers material in Modules 1 through 3. The exam consists of two essay questions. For each essay, you will be asked to formulate a thesis and defend your position by synthesizing and evaluating what you have learned in your coursework.


Both essays on the exam will be graded using a rubric. You can view the rubric at any time by navigating to the Examinations section of the course Web site.

The exam is open book and open notes; the e-text can be accessed via the online exam. No other materials will be permitted. If you have specific questions about the exam, please contact your mentor at least a week in advance of the scheduled test.

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

Statement about Cheating

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

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

Final Project

You will be required to submit a final project, a paper of  between 2500 and 3000 words. This paper will allow you to synthesize the material you learned over the duration of this course.

See the Final Project area of the course site for a full description of this assignment. You are strongly advised to choose a topic and have it approved before Week 11 of the course so that you have enough time to research and write your paper.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

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:






























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 course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

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

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


To ensure success in all your academic endeavors and coursework at Thomas Edison State University, familiarize yourself with all administrative and academic policies including those related to academic integrity, course late submissions, course extensions, and grading policies.

For more, see:

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