Jamie BaxterWestern Social Science


This syllabus is "dynamic" or a "living document", it will change throughout the term. Come back here before each lecture.

Lecture Schedule

Lecture Topic Readings
1. Scope of Course None

Introduction - Key Concepts

Discussion Assignment 1

Draper and Reed Ch 1

Role of Science in Environmental Decision-Making

Draper and Reed Ch 2

Connections between physical and human systems on earth 

Field camp week, some students may be away

Draper and Reed Ch 3, 4
5. Our changing atmosphere Draper and Reed Ch 5

Agriculture and Food Production

Assignment 1 Due

Draper and Reed Ch 6

Midterm Exam


Water, Oceans and Fisheries

Discussion, Assignment 2 

Draper and Reed Ch 7, 8
9. Forestry and Mining Draper and Reed Ch 9, 10


Karen Van Kerjoerle to provide tips on creating posters

Draper and Reed Ch 11

Sustainable Cities

Guest Speakers: Jamie Skimming and Pat Donnelly (City of London): Sustainable London

Draper and Reed Ch 13

Meeting environmental challenges

Course instructor evaluations

Draper and Reed Ch 14

Assignment 2 Due - In class poster session adn peer grading 

Review for exam


These lectures are available in the resources section of OWL.

Course Description

This course concerns the human uses of and impacts on the environment and resources through a social science and policy lens. While we will use the concept of "sustainability" throughout, we will critically analyze the meaning of this term in various contexts. We will examine contemporary environmental and resource issues using case examples throughout the term.


This course consists of three lecture hours per week. The lecture hours will consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion. Some lecture class time will be devoted to tutorial-style break-out group discussion. Students are responsible for i) completing readings prior to each lecture and; ii) being prepared to engage in active group discussions.


Lecture: Tuesday, 3 hours, 10:30 - 13:30, B&GS 0165


Assignments (two) - 40%

Assignment 1 - There's more to the story. Critical appraisal of environmental issue reporting in the media vs. academia (20%)

Assignment 2 -Raising awareness for environmental change (group poster)(20%)

Midterm Exam - 25%

Final Exam - 35%

You must complete all course components to pass the course.

No electronic devices - e.g. phones, calculators, are allowed at the midterm or exam

For a full description of assignments and exams please click here.


Course Text: Draper, D. and Reed, M. (2009) Our Environment: A Canadian Perspective (Fourth Edition) Toronto: Nelson.

All other material will be made available via Sakai

Handing in Material

I cannot get it in on time!

For cases where your reason is not medical, compassionate grounds (e.g., family death) etc. as per below there is a 5% per day penalty - a weekend counts as one day. The clock starts at 9am every morning. You can slide the paper under my door (I typically arrive before 9).

University Policies

Accommodation for Illness, Family Death etc.

For UWO Policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness and a downloadable SMC see:


Downloadable Student Medical Certificate (SMC): http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/appeals/medicalform_15JUN.pdf

Students seeking academic accommodation on medical grounds for any missed graded course components must apply to the Academic Counselling office of their home Faculty and provide documentation. Academic accommodation cannot be granted by the instructor or department.

And now some messages from our lawyers...

Mental Illness

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you. Please visit http://www.uwo.ca/uwocom/mentalhealth/ for more information on these resources and on mental health.


The Department of Geography has a zero tolerance policy towards plagiarism. If a student commits plagiarism, the instructor will assign a grade of zero to the assignment. A second instance of plagiarism is regarded as a scholastic offense and will be dealt with according to The University of Western Ontario policy for Scholastic offenses - more on our policy on plagiarism via this link. The most common offense is failing to cite properly - if you quote directly, cite the author! You do not get the benefit of the doubt (you are not presumed innocent until proven guilty) when such offenses are committed. That is, the burden of proof is reversed. Can you prove "it was an accident" (this is a rhetorical question)?

The following is an excerpt from the university secretariat: Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/appeals/scholastic_discipline_undergrad.pdf

Not citing the work of others is generally the main violation - ignorance is no excuse! See next...


Unfortunately turnitin has "caught" several offenders in my classes, please do not be the next one - it is awkward for everyone involved. If you do original work and write and cite properly you have nothing to worry about. The university has provided this mandatory wording: "All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism. All papers submitted will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and Turnitin.com"

Once logged in to Turnitin copy the id and pass below to the appropriate fields at the Turnitin website.

1. Login to turnitin - register if you do not have an account.

2. Join the course with the following credentials:

TA "All Students" ID: 10691701
"All Students" password: Reed