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Race To Save The Planet
3 units

Alan Forsberg
Tel: 415-239-3104 ext. 5



Race To Save The Planet is an up-do-date look at man's effect on the environment, the resulting problems and possible solutions. The video presentations examine various locations throughout the world with implications for environmental policy both at home and abroad. The accompanying texts listed below provide a look at both the problems of environmental policy and the science behind ecosystem pathologies. You'll never look at your car or your congressman as you used to after this course..

Weekly reading assignments are an integral part of the course, and two short papers are required by the end of the course. Since students earn transferrable college credit, this course is equivalent in content to an on-campus version. Students may choose to take the course on a credit/no credit basis rather than earning a letter grade.

Students are also encouraged to communicate regularly with their professor using telephone voicemail, email and the Internet world wide web.

The core of the course is an outstanding textbook, Living In The Environment, 12th Ed. by Miller filled with graphics, diagrams and real-world scenarios. (Website for the last edition: Living In The Environment, 11th Ed.)

These course materials are posted online at two mirror sites:

An essential element of the course are the video presentations listed below.


(Fall 2001, Spring 2002 semesters)

Global Change Understanding Ecosystems
Environmental Revolution Air Quality
Environmental Policy Technology and Its Costs
Living With Nature Recycling and Reuse
Population Problems Feeding The World

Television Schedule
Watch Race To Save The Planet on KCSM Channel 60
Thursday listed below 6:00 -7:00 AM

02/07 - The Environmental Revolution 03/14 - More For Less
02/14- Only One Atmosphere 03/21 - Save the Earth-Feed the World
02/21 - Do We Really Want To Live This Way? 03/28 - Waste Not, Want Not
02/28 - In The Name Of Progress 04/04 - It Needs Political Decisions
03/07 - Remnant of Eden 04/11 - Now or Never

Assignments & Meeting Schedule


02/01 - Introductory Meeting in 14-103, 7 - 9 PM  Systems theory and the environment.
02/07 - Ch. 1, 2, & pp.50-53  Environmental Systems, Issues, and History
02/14 - Ch. 18, & pp.120-130 Ozone Depletion and Climate Change
02/21 - Ch. 17, 19, & pp.294-300  Air and Water Pollution
02/28 - Ch. 11, 26, & 198-202, 207-210  Sustainable Development
03/07 - Ch. 8, 22 & 70-86  Biodiversity, Landuse, and Conservation
03/08 - Midterm Exam in 14-103, 7 - 9 PM CLUES HERE - First Essay Due
03/14 - Ch. 14, 15  Energy, Air Pollution, and Human Health
03/21 - Ch. 12, 20, & 219-234  Soil Systems and Food Production
03/28 - Ch. 16, 21  The Hazards of Waste
04/04 - Ch. 25, 27  The Politics of Sustainablity
04/11 - Ch. 23, 28, & pp. 629-647  Environmental Worldviews, Ethics, and Sustainability
04/19 - Final Review in 14-103, 7 - 9 PM FINAL CLUES HERESecond Essay Due
04/26 - Final Exam in 14-103, 7 - 9 PM

Other Important Dates

Coursework Guidelines

 Submit papers now via email to:

Please both attach the document, and copy and paste the text into the e-mail message. No footnotes or graphics!

 Fax papers to:

"Alan Forsberg" at number on the syllabus given out in class.
(Please notify me by phone or e-mail when you have faxed something.)

 Mail papers to:

Alan Forsberg
College of San Mateo
1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd. - Bldg. 14-141
San Mateo, CA 94402
(Please notify me by phone or e-mail when you have mailed something.)

**Always save a copy of your essay -- just in case . . .


This course is a regular transferable college class and as such requires a "writing" assignment. This requirement is fulfilled by two short papers of approximately 500 words each (or two typewritten pages). The first paper is due at or before the midterm exam, the second paper is due at or before the final review session. Each essay is worth 25% of the total course grade.
These are not to be research papers, but rather you should respond to some idea in either video or text and apply it to your own experience. Be sure to describe in detail what the idea or concept is and then relate your own experience or plan with the concept e.g. "bad air" or "recycling" or reforestation. Another good topic for one of your papers is to develop a personal plan of response to a particular environmental problem. Be sure to indicate where the problem was raised in the videos or text. NOTE: you cannot receive a passing grade in the class unless you complete these papers. This is regardless of your performance on the examinations.

Your essay should include the following:


I strongly recommend the use of a videotape recorder. Not only does it give you a copy of the video for review, it allows you to control the speed of the material. This is most important. Video is a "hot" medium in which great amounts of information flow at you in uncontrolled volume You can gain control by using the pause and reverse buttons to repeat material you didn't follow or want to emphasize. If you use the clues you will be given to guide you through the videos you will find the course to be much easier. Remember, if you miss an episode, video programs are available in the Learning Center for on-site use and check-out on a first-come-first serve basis.

Internet Resources

For an earth viewer see EARTHVIEW
Protecting endangered species see
Environmental News see
For an Environmental Directory see

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General Telecouse Information
[Telecourse Student Characteristics]
Watching the Televised Programs]
Are You a Good Candidate?]

Taking telecourses is a convenient way to earn college credit toward an AA Degree, or for transfer purposes. Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared for the responsibilities that come with the convenience of telecourses. We hope this information page will acquaint you with how the program works.

Telecourses work best for the self-motivated student.Since class meetings are few, it is easy to fall behind. Therefore, we suggest that you develop a routine--read the text, watch the televised program, and do your homework at a set time each week. Consider joining a study group where members of your class share ideas and keep each other up to date.

Know your viewing options. The College of San Mateo broadcasts its telecourses on KCSM-TV Channel 60, a UHF Public Broadcasting Services station, and many cable stations carry KCSM as part of their lineup. It is important to inform you that KCSM operates 2 stations, one is UHF Channel 60, the other is our cable station, SAMNET, an alternative viewing option for subscribers to TCI Cable in San Mateo County. SAMNET may not carry the same programming as KCSM Channel 60, and does not normally reair programs that were not transmitted because of technical difficulties. KCSM Channel 60 does reair programs. Call 574-6120 option 3 to hear possible make-up airing dates and times.

Is a telecourse for you? The following little quiz will help determine whether a telecourse will fit your circumstances and life-style. Select one answer per question, and note the letter a, b, or c on paper. Score the points as directed at the end of the quiz.

  1. My need to take this course now is:
    a. High - I need it immediately for degree, job or other important reason.
    b. Moderate - I could take it on campus later or substitute another course.
    c. Low - It's a personal interest that could be postponed.

  2. Feeling that I am part of a class is:
    a. Not particularly necessary to me.
    b. Somewhat important to me.
    c. Very important to me.

  3. I would classify myself as someone who:
    a. Often gets things done ahead of time.
    b. Needs reminding to get things done on time.
    c. Puts things off until the last minute.

  4. Classroom discussion is:
    a. Rarely helpful to me.
    b. Sometimes helpful to me.
    c. Almost always helpful to me.

  5. When an instructor hands out directions for an assignment, I prefer:
    a. Figuring out the instructions myself.
    b. Trying to follow the directions on my own, then asking for help as needed.
    c. Having the instructions explained to me.

  6. I need faculty comments on my assignments:
    a. Within a few weeks, so I can review what I did.
    b. Within a few days, or I forget what I did.
    c. Right away, or I get very frustrated.

  7. Considering my professional and personal schedule, the amount of time I have to work on a telecourse is:
    a. More than enough for a campus class or a telecourse.
    b.The same as for a class on campus.
    c. Less than for a class on campus.

  8. When I am asked to use VCRs, computers, voice mail, or other technologies new to me:
    a. I look forward to learning new skills.
    b. I feel apprehensive, but try anyway.
    c. I put it off or try to avoid it.

  9. As a reader, I would classify myself as:
    a. Good - I usually understand the text without help.
    b. Average - I sometimes need help to understand the text.
    c. Slower than average.

  10. If I have to go to campus to take exams or complete work:
    a. I can go to campus anytime.
    b. I might miss some lab assignments or exam deadlines if campus labs are not open evenings and weekends.
    c. I will have difficulty getting to the campus, even in the evenings and on weekends.

Scoring: Add 3 points for each "a" that you selected, 2 for each "b" and 1 for each "c."


  1. Telecourse students sometimes can end up neglecting telecourses because of personal or professional circumstances, unless they have compelling reasons for taking the course.
  2. Some students prefer the independence of telecourses; others find it uncomfortable.
  3. Telecourses give students greater freedom of scheduling, but they can require more self-discipline than on-campus classes.
  4. Some people learn best by interacting with other students and instructors, but telecourses often do not provide much opportunity for this type of interaction.
  5. Telecourses require you to work from written directions without face to face instruction.
  6. It may take as long as two weeks to get comments back by mail from your instructor.
  7. Telecourses require at least as much time as on-campus courses.
  8. Telecourses frequently use technology for teaching and telecommunication.
  9. Printed materials are the primary source of directions and information in telecourses.
  10. All telecourses require some on-campus work: introductory and review sessions, exams, and labs. Student schedule flexibility is important.

How to Register

This syllabus is based on the original developed by Ken Kennedy