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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sally J. Warner
BIS 293
Bothell Campus

Special Topics

Examines different subjects or problems from an interdisciplinary framework.

Class description

As citizens of the Puget Sound region, we often hear in the news about environmental issues affecting the Sound such as hypoxia, fish kills, harmful algal blooms, sewage spills, pollution and endangered fisheries. In this class, students will learn about the geology, physics, biology and chemistry of the Sound, then using that scientific knowledge, they'll explore the problems mentioned above in the form of case studies. For each case study, not only will the science be explored, but so will the media's reporting of the issue and the work being done by government and citizen groups to ameliorate the problems. At the end of this course, students will have a broad awareness of the ecological issues affecting the Puget Sound and understand the science behind them.

Student learning goals

Discuss how Puget Sound impacts our lives as citizens of this region.

Explain the science behind the primary ecological problems affecting the Puget Sound.

Identify the key players (government agencies, research institutes, and nonprofit groups) that are working toward a healthier Puget Sound.

Critically evaluate the biases of the media when reporting on scientific issues.

Demonstrate an enhanced ability to communicate scientific information, methods, and concepts.

General method of instruction

This class will be composed of lectures, hands-on activities, and group discussions.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this course. The course will focus on the oceanographic science of the Puget Sound at a level that will be accessible to non-science majors. Students should have an interest in learning about their local environmental surroundings.

Class assignments and grading

Students will be expected to participate in class discussions based on assigned readings, write short essays about the case studies, and take both a midterm and final exam. For the final project, students will have the option of doing a Community-Based Learning project where they volunteer 15 hours for a non-profit organization that does work related to the health of Puget Sound, or they may do a research project that involves interviewing an individual who does work related to the Puget Sound such as a scientist at the University of Washington or the Seattle Aquarium.

Grades will be based on assignments, exams, a final project and class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sally J. Warner
Date: 01/14/2011