Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ESR 160
Course Title:
Intro to Environmental Systems
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the structure and function of terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric systems, including the human actions that affect them. Includes lab sections that introduce basic quantitative techniques for collecting and analyzing data from environmental systems. Prerequisites: ESR 150 (may be taken concurrently). Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Science Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

  1. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  2. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation "science" is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation "science" is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Science (ESR) instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

A student will be able to collaboratively and independently:

  1. Identify and express orally and in writing basic functions of ecosystems
  2. Identify and express how humans interact with the environment
  3. Utilize field and laboratory methods/technologies to measure and describe ecosystems
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of ecosystem functioning and human impacts.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment Tasks:

  1. Essay and multiple choice exams
  2. Write-ups of field and laboratory experiences
  3. Research paper on environmental topic
  4. Oral presentations of lab results
  5. Self-assessment of group dynamics

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts and Themes:

  1. Energy relationships and environmental systems
  2. Biogeochemical cycles
  3. Fundamentals of ecology
  4. Atmospheric system
  5. Land, Soil,, Watershed
  6. Water Quality
  7. Human Impacts
  8. Field sampling
  9. Measuring of environmental parameters --Lab skills
  10. Computer Modeling

Process Skills (Competency skills):

  1. Read and process scientific papers
  2. Write using the scientific format
  3. Use basic math and statistics appropriately
  4. Apply scientific method
  5. Field and lab techniques and equipment
    1. Perform water quality analysis
    2. Use of taxonomic keys
    3. Equipment to analyze forest microclimates and systems
  6. Locating and accessing information
  7. Think critically
  8. Collaborate with peers -- Work effectively in groups
  9. Present conclusions logically