Geos 220: Environmental History of the Southwest
Class times: T, Th 2:00-3:15
Location: Harvill 101
Professor and TA
Dr. Paul Sheppard
Lab. of Tree-Ring Research
407 Tree-Ring Building
sheppard @ ltrr.arizona.edu
office hours: MW 11:00-12:00
or by appointment
Ms. Erana Loveless
Lab. of Tree-Ring Research
3rd Floor Tree-Ring Building
taylor2 @ email.arizona.edu
office hours: TTh 12:00-1:00
or by appointment
Course Objectives and Summary
- UA On-line catalog description for Geos. 220: Environmental and cultural history of the Southwest emphasizing discovery of the past using historical science techniques of tree-ring and packrat midden analyses and repeat photography.
- This course will cover several paleoenvironmental tools that have been involved extensively in reconstructing the natural and cultural history of the Southwest (as well as for other regions, too). They include:
- Tree rings
- Packrat middens
- Alluvial stratigraphy
- Repeat photography
- Historical documents
- Whereas the overall scope of this course encompasses broad time scales, its focus increases in detail as it moves from the distant to the recent past.
- Spatially, the greater Southwest includes most of Arizona and New Mexico as well as southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and northern Mexico.
- This course has been described in detail in an article published in 2008 in the Journal of Geoscience Education. Click here to see it.
Please be sure that you have fulfilled the stated course prerequisites: two courses from Tier One, Natural Sciences (NATS 101, 102, 104).
UA General Education
- Geos. 220 is a General Education course. The UA on-line catalog states that General Education "helps students attain the fundamental skills and broad base of knowledge that all college-educated adults must have, whatever their specific areas of concentration (i.e., the major and minor). The experiences of General Education encourage students to develop a critical and inquiring attitude, an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of subject areas, acceptance of persons of different backgrounds or values, and a deepened sense of self. The goal of General Education is to prepare students to respond more fully and effectively to an increasingly complex and ambiguous world." Geos. 220 is designed to fulfill these mandates.
- More specifically, Geos. 220 is a Tier Two general education course, which means it includes a "more in-depth examination of particular disciplines." Please accept that content of this course will be covered in more detail than might have occurred in Tier One courses.
According to UA policy, students are expected to be regular and punctual in class attendance and to fully participate in courses. Students themselves are primarily responsible for attendance and class participation, so in this course attendance will not be monitored directly. In general, students who have attended lectures regularly and attentively have done well in this course, and vice versa. Click here for a Daily Wildcat op-ed piece about attending class, and click here for a Daily Wildcat cartoon about attending class.
The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable. Assignments and/or exams may be fulfilled late after such absences.
The UA policy on absences preapproved by the UA Dean of Students (or dean's designee) will be honored. Assignments and/or exams may be fulfilled late after approved absences.
Content lectures have a graded exercise for critical thinking, which has the effect of taking attendance. After each lecture, go to D2L to do that day's exercise. The exact topic will be given in lecture. Critical thinking answers should be about 150 words, i.e., approximately a letter to the editor to the newspaper. Critical thinking will be evaluated on the basis of (1) providing an opinion backed up by data about the topic of the day and/or (2) considering multiple sides of the topic of the day. This exercise will be open on D2L from 3:30 to 11:59 PM on each lecture day that has a content lecture.
If you become ill with the flu, do not come to class until you have had no fever for 24 hours. You are responsible for contacting the instructor via email or phone as soon as you can to inform that you are ill. You are also responsible for any work missed while you are ill including assignments and exams.
- There is no textbook for the course, simply because no single book covers all of the varied content of this course while not including other, non-relevant topics.
- Instead of a single textbook, specific short readings will be available through this course web page. The reading assignments will be updated as needed.
- For some readings you will need the Adobe Reader application loaded onto your computer; that is pretty common these days and most university computers already have Adobe Reader installed. If you need it for your own computer, it's a free download from here: Adobe.
- For some readings you will need to know a password, which will be divulged in class. If you forget the password, contact the instructors.
- If you have problems with computer access to any readings or assignments, contact the instructors.
Course Web Page
- The url for the course web page is http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/geos220/.
- This page contains the course syllabus plus links to notes for each lecture, homework assignments, quiz and exam dates, professor and TA contact information, and other important sites of interest.
- Students who access the web syllabus regularly during the semester do well in this course.
- Details of the writing assignments, quizzes, and/or outside activities are posted only on the web page and will not be distributed in class.
- For seeing your own scores, check in with D2L. BTW, here's a Daily Wildcat comic about D2L.
- UA gen-ed courses are required to be writing intensive (see here). There is one 1000-word writing assignment in this course. This is intended to provide a chance for in-depth research on a complex topic, to foster critical thinking, and to allow practice for writing.
- This writing assignment will be broken into two parts:
- A topic-sentence outline, complete with cited references, the more references the better, with a good mix of kinds of references (50% of grade)
- The written essay, again with cited references (50% of grade)
- The grading of these written assignments will be rigorous, based primarily on the effective use of research material and the overall quality of the writing. In general, the more reference material cited the better, and having just one topic in each paragraph, including an identifiable topic sentence, would be good. To improve writing quality, check out the free UA Writing Skills Improvement Program, which includes presentations on essay organization and paragraph structure, two areas of consistent difficulty in this course.
- More specific guidelines for the essays and grading criteria will be provided.
- Grading will be based on:
- critical thinking for each content lecture (D2L)
- 4 in-class quizzes (quick)
- 2 outside activities (easy and fun)
- 1 writing assignment (difficult)
- 3 exams (two midterms and a unit final exam with a comprehensive section)
- The distribution of credit and grading will be as follows:
Points Lecture critical thinking 50 (2 points per content lecture) Quizzes 80 (20 pts. each x 4 quizzes) Outside activities 50 (25 pts. each x 2 activities) Writing Assignment 200 (100 pts. each for outline and essay) Midterm Exams 400 (200 pts. each x 2 exams) Final Exam
220 (200-pt. unit exam + 20-pt. comp.)
Total Points 1000
- Letter grades for the course will be determined from the percentage of earned points relative to the total, as follows:
900-1000 points (90 to 100%) = A 800-899 points (80 to 89%) = B 700-799 points (70 to 79%) = C 600-699 points (60 to 69%) = D below 600 points (60%) = E INCOMPLETES WILL BE CONSIDERED
ONLY FOR DIRE MEDICAL EVENTS
Exams and Other Graded Assignments
- Students can arrange with the instructors to take exams or quizzes in advance of scheduled dates if a valid reason for missing the scheduled dates is offered, such as: personal or family emergency, medical reasons, or UA Athletic obligations. If an exam or quiz is missed for unforeseen reasons (e.g., car accidents, sickness, emergencies, etc.), a make-up may be arranged within three days of the scheduled exam so long as proof of the necessity of the absence is provided (e.g., a written statement from a medical doctor, etc.).
- According to UA policy, the Final Exam MUST be taken during the scheduled time, unless you're unfortunate enough to have two at the same time or four on the same day, in which case please see the instructors.
- Completely missing exams or failing to do other graded essays and activities makes it difficult to succeed in any course. For example, if nothing is turned in for an assignment, a score of 0 will be entered for that grade.
- Students who are late on a graded assignment and don't have an acceptable excuse may turn in that assignment late for up to one week past the due date.
- However, the maximum score for late work will drop 10% after the due date.
- In short, it's best to turn in assignments on time, but if an assignment is late, it's still worth turning it in. After one week late, the door closes on assignments.
Extra credit is offered to all students, as follows:
- "Extra" credit does not mean "instead of" credit. That is, an extra credit score can be added to the final point total only by students who have turned in everything else. Click here for a cartoon on this concept.
- Only one extra credit assignment per student may be turned in.
- The extra credit project is to be a self-directed field trip to an approved prehistoric cultural site in the Southwest. The exact details of extra credit assignments can vary between students, and many possibilities exist near Tucson and throughout the Southwest:
- Near Tucson: Murray Springs mammoth kill site, Casa Grande, Tumacácori, Besh Ba Gowah, Tonto, Pueblo Grande, Mesa Grande.
- Farther away: Homolovi, Montezuma Castle and Well, Flagstaff Sinagua sites (Wupatki, Sunset Crater, and Walnut Canyon), Petrified Forest (with emphasis on Puerco Pueblo), Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Tsegi Canyon, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Pecos, Salinas Pueblos, and Coronado Kuaua.
- No extra credit trip need last more than a day, and many could be a mere stop-in while traveling for other reasons. Spend at least a couple hours at the site learning about its prehistoric human-environment interactions.
- Four things will be required to earn extra credit points from a field trip:
- You must consult with Dr. Sheppardin person, not just by email, and preferably during office hoursbefore your trip to be sure that your proposed trip is acceptable and to help prepare yourself to maximize your visit. For example, you will get recommended reference material to take with you. If you're already traveling and see some place appropriate to spend time at, do it and come see me after.
- Make a short (2 to 3 minutes is all) video showing lots of pictures of what you saw and explicitly linking your site to lecture topics of the course, the more the better. See this one by Paul as but an example of a trip video: https://youtu.be/aWB3rxLDneQ. Discuss dates, how dating was done, where and how food and water were obtained, and when and why the people left. In the video credits, include at least TWO citations, one of material obtained at the site AND one of a published or web-based reference related to your site. Include narration and music in your video.
Note: If you hate the thought of making a video, and won't do an extra credit trip because of the video thing, then a written report is allowable.
- Include in your video (report) an aerial photo of the site, with at least one comment of discussion about what is visible about the site from above.
- Include in your video (report) at least one picture of you at the site. Make it obvious that you were at the site.
- Small groups of two or three students may travel together, but each student must do a video (report) independently.
- The total possible points available for extra credit is 50.
- Extra credit videos (reports) may be turned in at any time up until November 15, 2018.
Code of Conduct
It is expected that we allprofessors, TAs, and students alikeobserve rules of common courtesy, such as:
- Adhere to the ABOR code of conduct and the UA Code of Academic Integrity.
- Adhere to the UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibiting threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself.
- Adhere to the UA Policy creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination and harassment.
- If you must arrive late or leave early (something not encouraged), please do so quietly.
- If you have a phone (who doesn't, besides the instructor?), please turn it off during class. If you must talk on your phone (does anyone talk on the phone anymore?) or text message someone during lecture, please do that outside of class.
- If you must read the newspaper (anyone?), tackle the Wildcat crossword and sudoku puzzles (anyone?), study for other courses (occasionally), sleep (lots), surf the web, update Facebook, Farmville, shop Ebay, play online poker, watch DVD movies, binge watch Thrones, or do anything else not related to this course during our lecture time, please do it elsewhere, not in class. These activities are obvious (click here for an example) and are officially considered disruptive. See here for a UA student opinion about surfing the web in class.
- Click here to see research saying people who multitask really aren't good at multitasking.
- There will be no racism, sexism, or violence tolerated in the classroom.
- It's acceptableeven encouragedto study together, of course. However, cheating will not be tolerated, including but not limited to:
- Copying work of others during exams or quizzes.
- Turning in work of others as your own, including work of students from past semesters.
- Plagiarism on papers. Click here for a definition of plagiarism.
- Special note on plagiarism: Some definitions of plagiarism imply that all that is necessary to avoid it is to put someone else's text in quotes and then cite the original source. While technically this may be true and acceptable in some academic settings, copying someone else's text (put in quotes or otherwise) is hereby NOT acceptable in this course. This includes text from fellow students or students from past semesters, published articles or newspapers, and web sites. In short: Citing yes, quoting no.
- Another note on plagiarism: If you'd like a fictional account of plagiarism, try Stephen King's, "Secret Window, Secret Garden," definitely a horror story. The movie, "Secret Window" with Johnny Depp and John Turturro, wasn't bad either.
- Students found cheating on any assigned work will receive a score of 0 for that assignment.
- In compliance with Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990), students who require special assistance will be suitably accommodated. Students must be registered with the University and a minimum of 5 days notice for such accommodations is requested.
- If the schedule outlined below conflicts with major religious observances, please let the professor know.
- If English is not your native language and you feel that you must use a translation dictionary during exams, please contact the professor.
- Students requiring accommodation in testing or note taking: Please notify the professor and provide the Disability Resource Center letter within the first few days of the course.
- Student athletes and others who need signatures periodically: Please notify the professor that you'll be needing signatures generally, and please alert the professor before a particular signing period is due so that your most up-to-date grade can be calculated.
- Honors College students: An Honors Contract is allowable. See the instructor to arrange those details.
Tentative Lecture Schedule
(subject to change, though not much change)
Part I - Southwest Background
Date Topic Reading Class Events BOD = book of the day, not required nor even expected for now, just encouraged for later Tue
Course introduction: Defining the Southwest
Getting started Thu
Geology: General and SW Required: US Geological Survey: The Great Ice Age
Optional: Anthropocene #1?
Optional: Anthropocene #2?
Optional: NGM 2014: Goldilocks Earth
Begin studying for in-class Quiz 1: Geological Time
100th Birthday of the National Park System
Upheaval from the Abyss
Climate: General Circulation Optional: Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later
Optional: NGM 2009: Solar Power
Optional: NGM 2016: Surface Albedo
Optional: NGM 2016: Arctic Sea Ice
Optional: Earth Null School
Optional: AGU 2017: Policy statement on geoengineering
Worst Hard Time
Climate: SW features Required: Gutzler: SW monsoon (password protected pdf file)
Optional: NOAA web pages on El Niño
Optional: NGM 1999: El Niño-La Niña
Take in-class Quiz 1: Geological Time Glen Canyon, A Novel
The Emerald Mile
Dating Techniques Required: Emil Haury: Recollections of Dramatic Moment in Southwestern Archaeology
Optional: Try the video version: In the Field of Time (Main E57.H3I5 1995)
An example clip: Haury on Douglass
And another clip Haury on Bridging the Gap
Optional: NGM 1929: Dating SW Ruins
Optional: NGM 2001: How Old Is It?
Begin Activity 1:
Crossdating Tree Rings
Tree Rings and Telescopes: The Scientific Career of A.E. Douglass
George E. Webb
Paleo-Ecology and Climate Techniques Optional: Diamond: Packrat Historians
Optional: USGS: Repeat Photography
Optional: Dendro video, LTRR alumnus
Optional: Sierra snowpack by tree rings
Tree Rings' Tale
SW Ecosystems: Deserts Optional: Buffelgrass Coordination Center
Optional: NGM 2013: Number of species worldwide
Optional: NGM 2013: Nitrogen in environment
Turn in Activity 1: Crossdating Tree Rings
Begin studying for in-class Quiz 2: SW Rivers
Check this out for AZ Rivers
A Sense of Place
The Desert Year
SW Ecosystems: Mountains Required: Sky Islands video The Mountains Next Door
Take in-class Quiz 2: SW Rivers Wed
Extra review session:
LTRR Conference Room,
4th floor, see map above
4:00 PM, led by TBD Thu
Part II - Prehistoric Environmental Issues Date Topic Reading Class Events BOD Tue
Deep-time history: Vegetation and climate history Optional: Landscape Changes in the Southwest
Optional: Story of Tucson's Past in Sediment. A Requiem for Arroyos
Early Humans: Megafauna
Required: Martin & Burney: Bring Back the Elephants
Optional: Ice Age Death Trap
Optional: A graceful gazelle becomes a pest: an example of how exotic species introductions might go awry
Optional: La Brea Tarpits, 100th anniversary in 2013
Optional: Bering Land Bridge animation
Optional: Gomphothere-human site
Optional: Paul S. Martin homage UA
Optional: Paul S. Martin homage TW
Optional: Mammoth overkill led to warming?
Optional: Impact theory on the extinction
Optional: Clovis points
Optional: NGM 1979: In Search of First Americans
Optional: NGM 2010: Megafauna Extinctions Worldwide
Optional: NGM 1955: Ice Age Americans
Optional: NGM 1942: Ice Age animals
Optional: Sports Illustrated 1956: Lehner AZ mammoth kill
Begin Essay: Wolf Re-introduction to the SW Silent Sky
Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan): Chaco Canyon Optional: NGM 1955: Ice Age Hunters
Optional: Russell Cave: Lifeways of the Archaic period
Optional: Provenance study of Chaco timbers
Optional: Vanishing in prehistoric American Southwest
Optional: 2015 provenance study of Chaco timbers
Optional: NGM 1921: Chaco #1
Optional: NGM 1922: Chaco #2
Optional: NGM 1923: Chaco #3
Optional: NGM 1925: Chaco #4
Please look over the wolf module and ask questions today as needed New Light on Chaco Canyon, SAR Series
Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan): Mesa Verde and Kayenta Optional: Mesa Verde video in 3-D (red & blue glasses needed)
Optional: Haury 1958: Kayenta migration
Optional: NGM 1923: Tsegi Canyon, AZ
Optional: NGM 1979: Navajo National Monument, AZ
Begin preparing for Quiz 3: SW Cultural Geography Tue
Hohokam Required: Where do the salts go? A 4-page, sobering description of soil salinization in Arizona
Required: Looking at Hohokam may help us live today: A rationale for studying past cultures.
Optional: Pueblo Grande Hohokam
Optional: How to Make a Hohokam pithouse
Turn in wolf outline The Hohokam: Ancient People of the Desert
Sinagua and Mogollon Blank Sand
14th & 15th Century Transition Optional: Report on 1927 1st Pecos Conference
Optional: NGM 1968: Casas Grandes, Mexico
Turn back wolf outline
Start wolf essay
Pecos: Gateway to Pueblo & Plains Thu
Spanish-Mexican Optional: NGM 1992: Spain in Americas, Map 1
Optional: NGM 1992: Spain in Americas, Map 2
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Essay discussion session:
Re-introduction of the Wolf
LTRR Conference Room,
see map above
led by Paul
Navajo-Apache Turn in wolf essay Navajo Long Walk
Sing Down the Moon
In-class review Part II - Prehistoric Environmental Issues
Extra review session - Prehistoric Environmental Issues LTRR classoom,
see map above
led by TBD
Exam II - Prehistoric Environmental Issues Part III - Modern Environmental Issues Date Topic Reading Class Events BOD Thu
Anglo-American arrival to SW Required: The Arroyo Problem in the Southwestern United States
Optional: NGM 2014: Eating meat in America
Critical Thinking: Taking Stock on Grazing
Keep reviewing for Quiz #3: SW Human Geography Legacy of Change
View From Bald Hill
Bock and Bock
Kill the Cowboy
Sharman Apt Russell
SW Forest Fire History Critical Thinking: NAm Fire-CO2 numbers Fire Season
Living With Fire
The Big Burn
On The Burning Edge
SW Forest Health Take in-class Quiz #3: SW Human Geography
Begin Activity #2: Arizona State Museum
The Forester's Log
The Forest Unseen
The Quiet Crisis
SW Flooding Floods, Drought, and Climate Change
SW Drought Optional: Understanding and Defining Drought. From the National Drought Mitigation Center
Optional: Is "hoping environmental science to be wrong" good public policy? Arizona Daily Star, March 3, 2003.
Optional: North American Drought Atlas
Extra credit videos are due
(email or D2L a link)
Turn in Activity #2:
Arizona State Museum
Global Change and the SW Required: Southwest may see warmer, wetter climate in the future
Optional: Sonoran desert may be coming apart at the seams
Optional: Climate Change Effects on Southwest Water resources
Optional: Assessment of Potential Future Vegetation Changes in the Southwestern United States
Optional: Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems. A very readable "white" paper, 13 pages of text with pictures.
Optional: Glacier Retreat. A USGS report on retreating glaciers, perhaps evidence of "global warming."
Optional: Drought and Climate Change. From the National Drought Mitigation Center
Optional: Study predicts dust-bowl Southwest. Are we headed for serious environmental changes?
Optional: Op-ed on sustainability in the SW. Especially good for Business majors.
Optional: The Carbon Bathtub. A National Geographic model.
Optional: Climate Change. AZ Daily Wildcat.
Optional: Millennials Driving Less. Baltimore Sun.
Optional: NGM 2014: Coal.
Optional: CO2 emissions. Sobering numbers.
Optional: NGM 2016: Thoreau's plants flowering earlier.
Optional: NGM 2017: Global change, essential facts.
Critical Thinking: Comparing CO2 and methane.
Optional Critical Thinking: Cutting down on cow methane.
Cartoon Intro to Climate Change
The Weather Makers
A Great Aridness
Merchants of Doubt
Earth's Changing Climate
The Great Courses
Thanksgiving Day, no classes Tue
SW Water Issues
Required: ADWR: Arizona's Water Supplies and Water Demand
Required: ADWR: Tucson Active Management Area
Required: AZ Daily Star: 2007: Pumping of groundwater spurs surge in earth fissures
Follow-up: AZ Daily Star: 2017: Update on earth fissures in Arizona
Optional: Irrigate and die
Optional: Agriculture in AZ
Optional: AP report on water use in AZ
Optional: The Colorado River's Future
Optional: 2013: Endangered Colorado River
Optional: 2015: Colorado River Valuation
Optional: 2015: Stop evaporation!
Optional: 2016: The latest on water desalination
Optional: NGM 2016: Ogallala Aquifer
Optional: Saving water at home
Critical thinking: Economic impact of agriculture
Begin reviewing for Quiz 4: SW Cultural Chronology Cadillac Desert
Video: Southwest, Are We Running Dry?
The Water Knife
In-class review Part III - Modern Environmental Issues Tue
Final Course Review
Optional: A summary of this course Student course evaluations
In-class Quiz #4: SW Cultural Chronology
Re-survey of course
Final Review Sessions and Final Exam Date Instructor Time Place Fri
Erana 4:00 LTRR
Paul 4:00 LTRR
Final Exam: Part III plus a comprehensive section 3:30 - 5:30 Harvill 101
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721 USA
Comments to Paul Sheppard: sheppard @ ltrr.arizona.edu
Copyright © 2000-2018, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Univ. of Arizona
Revised August 2018