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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice


OER Course Conversion Projects


SCI 112: Environmental Science:
Focus on Sustainability


                                            OER for SCI 112


SCI 112: Environmental Science: A Focus on Sustainability is a ZTC (Zero Textbook Cost) Course, meaning that you do not have to purchase a textbook. This course examines the core topics in environmental science and how environmental science informs sustainability, environmental policies, economics, and personal choices.   

Course Description

This course examines the core topics in environmental science and how environmental science informs sustainability, environmental policies, economics, and personal choices.  Students will learn principles from the sciences of ecology and toxicology to study the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment.  The course will also consider environmental risks due to economic, political, racial  and cultural factors.  Discussion will focus on how the Earth’s resources are limited, and how these resources can best be used to benefit ecosystems and leave the environment healthy for future generations. 

Sustainability Science Section Course Description

The main goal of this courses is to awaken student understanding of the Earth through studying science, and to encourage good behavior in stewardship and environmental citizenship.  The United Nations Earth Charter has important principles for all areas of environmental Science:

These are 1) Respect and Care for the Community of Life  2) Ecological Integrity 3) Social and Economic Justice  4) Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace

Project Description

Field Work and e-Portfolios

This project is designed to encourage higher-level thinking about big questions and problems that undergraduate students might find more relevant to their lives. Our goal, as educators, is to foster critical thinking and problem solving skills through analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Students are expected to become familiar with the entire process of performing water analysis, from sample collection to generating a formal deliverable scientific report. Students will work in groups to complete the project.

Students are expected to complete an e-portfolio on one major assignment toward the middle of the semester. You will work in groups of two and share your knowledge and skills.  These e-portfolios may be used as an important part of your college experience as they will demonstrate your ability to use technology and share information.

Learning Outcomes

During this course of study, students will:

1. Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of a life or physical science.

  • Develop scientific literacy
  • Acquire broad background knowledge in the physical and biological sciences.
  • Correctly use basic terminology in biology and chemistry.
  • Outline the basic concepts of environmental science, including:
    • sustainability
    • human impact
    • toxicology
    • ecology
  • Recognize fundamental concepts of risk assessment and management. 

2. Apply the scientific method to explore natural phenomena, including hypothesis development, observation, experimentation, measurement, data analysis, and data presentation.

  • Critically evaluate major conflicts within the realm of the environmental sciences.
  • Understand the role of creativity in problem solving and the application of scientific principles in gathering and interpreting scientific data.
  • Recognize the significance of the scientific process in understanding controversial issues.
  • Learn how to draw appropriate scientific conclusions from evidence and experimental data in both research and legal settings.
  • Consider the dynamic relationship between politics, economics & societal issues that might influence scientific research.
  • Explain and demonstrate comprehension of how issues of social justice & ethics converge with scientific research and its applications.

3. Use the tools of a scientific discipline to carry out collaborative laboratory investigations.

  • Demonstrate lab safety and proper laboratory protocol.
  • Field work on water quality; in situ monitoring and samples for instrumental analysis
  • Students will practice the skills of collaborative learning in a laboratory environment by working in groups to fulfill laboratory and field exercises. They will do this by allocating specific responsibility to each lab member, discussing their procedure, and finalizing their results. Ultimately, students are responsible for completing their own lab report. Students will assess themselves on how responsible they are for their own work as well as how well the whole group works together.
  • Develop competence in oral and written forms of scientific communication

4. Gather, analyze, and interpret data and present it in an effective written laboratory or fieldwork report.

  • Students will practically apply observation and/or measurement in a larger scientific context and thereby assess the validity of the data they collect.
  • Participate in field studies in the NY City urban environment, including, but not limited to, Superfund cleanup sites and Jamaica Bay National Park.
  • Describe the basic practices of testing resource quality and the impacts of waste disposal on the environment.

5. Identify and apply research ethics and unbiased assessment in gathering and reporting scientific data.

  • Students will discriminate between scientific and non-scientific resources by describing the basic components of a scientific investigation, and contrast this with non-scientific statements.
  • Interpret environmental research findings as published in the popular media.
  • Interpret environmental research findings in primary documents.
  • Recognize and communicate environmental racism as observed and documented through cultural and economic bias.