MAE 124/ESYS 103: The Human Earth
(Introduction to Environmental Engineering)

Spring 2006


Time and Place:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:50, WLH 2204
Fridays, 9-9:50, HSS 1330
Instructor: Sarah Gille
Office hours on upper campus: Tuesday, Thursday, Fridays, 8:15 until 15 minutes before class. 473 EBU2. phone: 858-822-4915. I'm also available before and after class and by e-mail.
Office at Scripps: Nierenberg Hall 348. phone: 822-4425. (Let me know that you're coming before stopping by.)
Questions for Sarah? Send me e-mail:

TA: Geoff Rapoport
Questions for Geoff? E-mail:

Midterm Exam: Thursday, May 11
Final Exam: Thursday, June 15, 8-11 am.
Please note that university policy does not allow you to reschedule exams for personal reasons.


Detailed schedule, reading and homework assignments
Special events pertinent to this class
Internship Opportunities
Term Papers, Final Exams, and Quizzes can be picked up during regular office hours from Janet Meade, EBU II 573. Janet can be reached at 858-534-0233. She works from about 7:15 to 3:45 (with a lunch break during the noon hour.)


The natural environment, consisting of the earth, the atmosphere, and both fresh water and sea water, is a finite resource of crucial importance to human existence. Human (economic) activity inevitably involves interactions with the natural environment. For our way of life to be sustainable, it is vital both to understand this interaction, and to ensure that economic activity does not affect the environment so strongly that future generations will be unable to meet their own needs for a high quality of life.

This course aims to introduce and discuss the important issues involved in the interaction between human activity and the environment. Particular attention is paid to the role of the engineering process and technological advances in sustainable development. In particular, the course aims to show that it is essential to understand, quantify and embed the environmental dimension (in its broadest sense) at every stage of consideration of industrial and economic activity. Inevitably, this requires discussion of

which will constitute the central thrusts of this course. Emphasis will be placed not on detailed technical and scientific analysis, but rather on broader discussion and appreciation of the underlying fundamental issues. Lectures, homework and exams will be structured accordingly.


Specifically, by the end of the course, you should understand, and be able to discuss clearly:


Dorf, Richard C. "Technology, humans and society: Toward a sustainable world." (2001) Academic Press.

Fundamentally, the course consists of three parts.

Here's a tentative schedule (subject to timing changes):

Other links

Grading Policy

Additional information for Paper 1

Additional information for Paper 2

PDF version of Midterm from Spring 2001
PDF version of Midterm from Spring 2002
PDF version of Midterm from Spring 2003 (Also used in Spring 2005.)
PDF version of Midterm from Spring 2004
PDF version of Midterm from Spring 2006

PDF version of Final from Spring 2001
PDF version of Final from Spring 2002
PDF version of Final from Spring 2003
PDF version of Final from Spring 2004
PDF version of Final from Spring 2005
PDF version of Final from Spring 2006

Over time, homework questions, and other resources will be posted here. You will need a (free) Adobe Acrobat reader to view the homework files, which may be downloaded from here. Please check back frequently, as much of the assigned work will expect significant research on environmental issues, some of which will be facilitated by suggested links and resources posted here.