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 do the work of the course. The first required textbook (Miller and Spoolman) is available from the University’s textbook supplier, MBS Direct. The second is an open-source text that you can obtain freely online.

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.

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:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University 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.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University 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 University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

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, or without identifying it as a direct quote, 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.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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