MAE 124/ESYS 103: Environmental Challenges: Science and Solutions

Spring 2010


Time and Place:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00-10:50, Solis Hall 107
Discussion section: Monday or Tuesday
Instructor: Professor Sarah Gille   e-mail:  sgille [at]
Office hours: by appointment. Also available before and after class and by e-mail.
Office on upper campus: 568 EBU2. phone: 858-822-4915.
Office at Scripps: Nierenberg Hall 348. phone: 858-822-4425. (Let me know that you're coming before stopping by. Please note that UCSD distinguishes between long-distance and local phone calls, and teaching funds do not include an extensive budget for long-distance phone calls. I rarely return phone calls to out-of-area phone numbers. E-mail may be a better way to get response.)
Reader: Nicole Bilsley    E-mail: nbilsley [at]

Midterm Exam: Friday, April 30, 10:00 am
Final Exam: Monday, June 7, 8:00-11:00 am, tentatively Solis Hall 107
Please note that university policy does not allow you to reschedule exams for personal reasons.


Detailed schedule, reading and term paper assignments
Special events pertinent to this class
Class themes in the news
Interesting older news items
WebCT: access to materials for enrolled students use only (such as copyrighted materials)
Lecture podcasts (audio only)
Turnitin instructions
Exams and stray assignments can be picked up from from Pamela Buass in the ESYS program office (Galbraith Hall, Room 185, That's below CLICS). Pam's summer hours are from 9:30 - 3:30 (through July 2 and after August 23rd), and her phone number is 858-822-4604. If she's not available Caren Duncanson (858-534-8157) may be able to help you out.
Elearnor Roosevelt College students: Please be sure to pick up your graded term papers if you plan to use the ESYS 103/MAE 124 term paper as part of a portfolio of papers submitted to fulfill your upper-division writing requirement.


This is a course in environmental sustainability and sustainable development.  We will examine environmental challenges including pollution, water resources, energy, global warming, population and land degradation.  Then we will focus on strategies for addressing these challenges, through government intervention, industrial activity, design, and planning.  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.  We focus on fundamental issues rather than detailed technical and scientific analysis.  Lectures, in-class discussion, term papers and exams will ask you to think and synthesize material.


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




The course consists of two parts.

Here's the detailed schedule.

Other links

Additional Information on Term Paper 1 including information on using
Additional Information on Term Paper 2

Grading Policy

Past Exams

Library resources:  Struggling with access to the journal Science or other journal literature? UCSD has a subscription to Science and to many other journals relevant to this class. You should be able to access these library resources from any computer on campus, or from home if you use the UCSD proxy server or VPN. See here or here for details.

Over time, assignments, and other resources will be posted here. You will need a pdf reader (such as Adobe Acrobat reader, which is free) to view many of the files. 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 (or if copyrighted, on WebCT).