Jun 18, 2024  
2022 - 2023 Cowley College Academic Catalog 
2022 - 2023 Cowley College Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]




5 Credit Hours

Student Level:

This course is open to students on the college level in either their freshman or sophomore year.

Classification Course:

3 cr. Lecture/ 2 cr. Lab



Catalog Description:


[KRSN BIO1040]

Topics include the relationship of the human species to the environment. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of the basic and ecological principles and the ecological crises confronting the human species. Survey studies of bodily, aquatic, and terrestrial ecosystems are included. Aspects of health ecology also are covered in the course. The lab component of the course provides hands on labs, field experiences, and case studies that promote critical thinking about factors affecting the environment.

Controlling Purpose:

This course is designed to treat environmental science as an interdisciplinary study, combining ideas and information from natural sciences (such as biology, chemistry, and geology) and social sciences (such as economics, politics, and ethics) to present a general idea of how nature works and how things are interconnected.  This study of connections in nature examines how the environment is being used and abused, and what individuals can do to protect and improve it for themselves, for future generations, and for other living things. The class consists of 3 credit hours of lecture and 2 credit hours of lab which fulfills a lab science credit for associate degrees.

Learner Outcomes:

Upon completion of the course, the student will:

  • Utilize lab and/or field safety practices and proper instrumentation.
  • Demonstrate data collection, interpretation, and reporting skills.
  • Utilize scientific inquiry to make data-informed decisions.
  • Explain physical and biological processes that shape the earth. 
  • Evaluate interconnections between organisms and the environment. 
  • Examine human interactions and impacts on the environment and natural resources.

Core Outcomes:

The learning outcomes and competencies detailed in this course outline or syllabus meet or exceed the learning outcomes and competencies specified by the Kansas Core Outcomes Groups project for this course as approved by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Unit Outcomes for Criterion Based Evaluation:

The following outline defines the minimum core content not including the final examination period.  Instructors may add other material as time allows.

UNIT 1: Humans and Nature

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of environmental problems and their causes and a brief history of resource use and conservation.

  • Describe a sustainable system and how it survives and functions over some specified time.
  • Describe a sustainable society and how it manages its economy and population size.
  • Explain Growth and the Wealth Gap including linear and exponential growth, human population growth and economic growth.
  • Distinguish between nonrenewable resources and renewable resources, and demonstrate the connections between renewable resources and the Tragedy of the commons.
  • Describe pollution and its sources, the effects of pollution, methods of dealing with pollution and prevention and cleanup.
  • List environmental resource problems and their root causes.
  • Give a brief history of resource use and conservation and cultural change.
  • Give a brief history of resource use and conservation and cultural change.
  • Distinguish between hunting and gathering societies, agricultural societies, and industrial societies.
  • Explain Resource conservation and environmental protection in the United States.

UNIT 2: Scientific Principles and Concepts

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of science, models and systems, matter

and energy resources, ecosystems and how they work, climate, weather and life, changes in populations, communities, and ecosystems and geologic processes.

  • Describe what scientists do and outline the scientific methods.
  • Distinguish between mental models, conceptual models, graphic models, physical models, and mathematical models.
  • Explain the properties of atoms and ions, compounds, and matter.
  • Describe the nature of science, technology and environmental science, system models, and basic and complex system structures and their behaviors.
  • Explain matter and energy resources, types and concepts.
  • Describe Ecosystems and how they work.
  • Explain life and earth=s life-support systems including metabolism, reproduction, mutation and evolution.
  • Be able to describe connections between climate, weather and life.
  • Describe biomes, including deserts and semi deserts, grasslands, and forests. Distinguish between polar, subpolar, temperate, and tropical climates.
  • Describe life in aquatic environments including the coastal zone, coral reefs, open sea, freshwater lakes, freshwater streams, and freshwater inland wetlands.
  • Explain changes in populations, communities and ecosystems.
  • Explain the responses of living systems to environmental stress.
  • Describe geologic processes.

UNIT 3: The Human Population

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of factors affecting human population size and urban living.

  • Explain the factors affecting human population size, including birth and death rate, fertility, age structure and solutions.
  • Describe urbanization, urban growth and population distribution.
  • Describe the urban resource and environmental problems associated with it.
  • Explain urban land use, planning, control, and solutions to making urban areas more livable and sustainable.

UNIT 4: Ultimate Global Problems

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of deforestation and loss of biodiversity, global warming and ozone loss.

  • Describe the types and importance of forests
  • Explain tropical deforestation and the causes and consequences of biodiversity losses.
  • Explain global warming and its effects, and list solutions dealing with the threat of global warming.
  • Explain ozone depletion and solutions for protecting the ozone layer.

UNIT 5: Energy Resources

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and nonrenewable energy resources.

  • List and describe energy resources and understand the importance of improving energy efficiency.
  • Compare and contrast solar energy, moving water, heat stored in water, wind and biomass for producing heat and electricity.
  • Distinguish between oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy as nonrenewable energy resources.

UNIT 6: Risks, Health, Resources and Pollution

Outcomes:  The student will gain an overview of risk toxicology and human health; air and air pollution; water resources; water pollution; minerals and soil;

  • Explain the atmosphere, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution, the effects of air pollution on living organisms, and materials and solutions for preventing and controlling air pollution.
  • Explain water=s importance and unique properties, including the supply, renewal and use of water resources, water resource problems and solutions.
  • List and describe types and sources of water pollution.
  • Describe mineral supplies and environmental impacts, soil erosion and solutions for soil conservation.
  • Explain reuse, recycling and hazardous waste regulation in the United States.

UNIT 7: Sustaining Biodiversity and Biological Integrity

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of food resources, protecting food resources, sustaining ecosystems and wild species.

  • Describe food production, world food problems, methods of increasing world food production, agricultural policy, food aid, and land reform.
  • Distinguish between pesticide types and uses and the regulation of pesticide in the United States. Describe other ways to control pests.
  • Explain managing and sustaining forests, rangelands, national parks, biodiversity sanctuaries and public lands in the United States.
  • Describe wildlife management, protection of wild species from extinction and fishery management.

UNIT 8: Environment and Society

Outcomes: The student will gain an overview of economics and environment, politics and environment and environmental worldviews, ethics, and sustainability.

  • Explain economic goods, resources and systems, growth and external costs.
  • Describe politics and environmental policy and anti-environmental groups.
  • Describe human centered environmental worldviews in industrial societies.
  • Describe life-centered and earth-centered environmental worldviews.

UNIT 9:  Lab Safety

Outcomes: Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able to utilize lab and/or field safety practices and proper instrumentation.

  • Identify the necessity for lab safety protocols.
  • Properly perform all aspects of lab safety.
  • Identify the appropriate equipment or instrument for various experiments.
  • Utilize various instrumentation to collect accurate data.

UNIT 10:  Scientific Process

Outcomes:  Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able utilize scientific inquiry to make informed decisions by properly collecting, interpreting, and reporting data.

  • Identify and utilize key steps of the scientific method.
  • Identify dependent and independent variables in an experiment.
  • Construct valid hypotheses.
  • Identify and construct appropriate methods of representing data.
  • Construct valid conclusions from collected data.

Projects Required: 

Some field experiments may be required for the course that will extend beyond normal class times.

Textbook: N/A

Materials/Equipment Required:

Computer Access

Attendance Policy:

Students should adhere to the attendance policy outlined by the instructor in the course syllabus.

Grading Policy:

The grading policy will be outlined by the instructor in the course syllabus, but at least 50% of the grade will come from proctored assessments.

Maximum class size:


Course Time Frame:

The U.S. Department of Education, Higher Learning Commission and the Kansas Board of Regents define credit hour and have specific regulations that the college must follow when developing, teaching and assessing the educational aspects of the college.  A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally-established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester hour of credit or an equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.  The number of semester hours of credit allowed for each distance education or blended hybrid courses shall be assigned by the college based on the amount of time needed to achieve the same course outcomes in a purely face-to-face format.

Refer to the following policies:

402.00 Academic Code of Conduct

263.00 Student Appeal of Course Grades

403.00 Student Code of Conduct

Disability Services Program:

Cowley College, in recognition of state and federal laws, will accommodate a student with a documented disability.  If a student has a disability which may impact work in this class and which requires accommodations, contact the Disability Services Coordinator.

Disclaimer: This Information is Subject to Change. For the Official Course Procedure Contact Academic Affairs.