ESRM100/ENVIR110 Frequently-Asked Questions

Do you have questions about this class? Sure you do! Most of these questions have been asked before multiple times. There is no punishment for asking them again, but if you sort through these, you will find out all kinds of things about the class without having to wait for me or a TA to respond.

Question: What is ESRM100/ENVIR110?

Answer: ESRM100 is designed primarily as an elective to meet the Natural World (NW) and the Individuals and Society (I&S) requirements.  There is no pre-requisite except an interest in the environment. However, we will give students a broad exposure to Environmental Science, ranging from the general structure of the earth and how it works to address issues like biological diversity, pollution, and global warming.  Case examples range from local to global environmental issues.  This is a fun course for both students and the instructor, and we think we will change your present opinion of environmental science. Click here for SYLLABUS for the course.

Question: How do I get added the ESRM100/ENVIR110 email distribution list, which is absolutely required for the course?

Answer: Instead of giving out numerous handouts, and having the chance that you might miss something important, all class announcements will be distributed by email.  When you register for the class, your UW email address will be automatically added to the ESRM100/ENVIR110 distribution list by the end of the day. 

To Forward UW Email to Another Account:
Some students find the UW email system cumbersome.  However, for simplicity, we require that you obtain a UW email account.  If you wish to use another account to receive your UW email (for example, a Hotmail  account), you must forward your UW email to that account.  To do this, log into MyUW with your NetID, find the Email section on the main page, and click on "Email Forwarding."  Then:
1. Highlight the circle for "Forward my incoming UW email to a different email address."
2. Type in your FULL email address for your non-UW account (ex:
3. Click the "Next" button to send your updated information.  If your changes were successfully implemented, you will receive a message that says "Forwarding successfully completed."

Look for emails from us during the first week of classes.  If you receive emails that are addressed to, you are on the list.  Do not reply directly to these messages.  Only the instructors and TA's are authorized to use the distribution list, so any message you send to the address listed above will be bounced back to you and not received by us.  If you need to send the TA's a message or ask a question, use

To Obtain a UW Email Address:
If you did not have a UW account prior to registering for our class, simply go to the UW Computing and Communications web site for obtaining a UWNetID at: and follow the instructions.   To test your new UW email account, go the Student MyUW web page and log in with your new NetID.  If it works, you should enter a web site with your quarter's class schedule at the top.   You can also check your new email account via the WebPine system.  You cannot post to the ESRM100/ENVIR110 list, nor can anyone except the instructor and TA's. You should not receive anything not directly related to the course.

If you don't receive aabout one email from us per week, you are not on the list.  In this case, you need to contact us at quickly, as you might miss an important announcement.

To View Previous Emails:
Visit to view previous emails to the class.   

Question: Where is the syllabus?

The syllabus can be accessed from a link near the top of the
ESRM100/ENVIR110 home page.  You can also access it by clicking HERE.

The syllabus has all due dates posted on it, so you should check it out if you have a question.  If there is a change in plans, it will reflect those changes.  If you do not meet a due date, by all means, do the requirement as soon as possible and post, publish, or otherwise finish it. Please check your assignments to make sure they have been posted correctly.  

Question: Can I get writing credit for ESRM100/ENVIR110?

Answer: The requirements for getting a "W" are more formal than they used to be.  These requirements are listed at:

You must make arrangements with the ESRM100/ENVIR110 TA's ( to complete the extra work required to meet the W-credit criteria. We require that you ask to do this by the end of the first week of classes.

Please read the W credit requirements page for more detailed instructions.

Question: How do I send an email to the help account?

Answer: Send questions to  This is the first place to ask a question about ESRM100/ENVIR110 material and requirements. All instructors and TA's will try and answer the question quickly and accurately.  If you type in a short description of the problem in the subject line, this can also help us to prioritize answering.

Since we receive a considerable amount of spam, it will be difficult to deal with emails that don't come from your UW account.

Question: How do I send an email to Rob? 

Answer: Send email to from a UW email account. This is for grading questions, personal questions, questions about TA's and other students, and anything you don't feel comfortable to send to a TA.  Don't worry about hurting my feelings or the possibility of reprisal.  I welcome complaints as a way of improving the course.  I don't hold grudges. 

Any email originating from a UW account or that contains "ESRM100" or "ESRM 100" in the subject line will not be filtered into the trash and will be read and responded to.

Question: How do I send an email to one of the TA's? 

Answer: Our TA's are divided up according to the sections and parts of the class.  Some are responsible for coordinating things, etc.  For questions about the technical material in the class, including grading, please ask Rob.  To get together with a TA, send an email to 

The course email address for all TA's is:   This is the email address that will be checked daily and from which you will receive the most prompt reply.   If you would like to speak with a specific TA, you may request an appointment with that specific TA through the eschelp account.  We will forward your request directly to the TA you request.

Question: How is ESRM100/ENVIR110 graded? Is a curve applied?
Answer: Grading is as follows:

There are 3 exams. The top 2 grades make 50% of your final grade.

50% for Exams;

25% for GoPost Discussion List
25% for Project
100% of grade

Instructions for most of this is given below, as well as on the syllabus.  A "curve" may or may not be applied depending on class performance.  In previous years, a curve has always been applied to bring the class average up to the UW average for a 100-level course.  For such a large class as this, I use the University of Washington average for 100-level classes, which is presently 3.3.  If the class average is higher than 3.3, I give those grades without a curve.  If the class average is less than 3.3, I scale the average up to 3.3.  The curve will be applied at the end of the quarter on the entire class grade, not on individual requirements (exams, projects, etc.).  The following link shows the normal grading scale (click here).  

Here is an example of how the grading works:

<>Item             Grade   %grade    Grade*%grade
Exam 1             90.0    25%       22.5
Exam 2             80.0    25%       20.0
Exam 3             75.0    dropped    
GoPost Discussion  90.0    25.0%     22.5
Project            80      25        20.0
            final score    100.0%     85.0

Your final grade would be at least 3.1, depending on any curve 

Question: What is the project all about?

Answer: You can opt to do one of the three following projects:

1)  Research Project - literature research on an environmental issue.

2)  Book Report - Read one of the selected environmental books and write a report.

3)  Environmental Service Work - volunteer 1 full day of work with an environmental organization and write about your experience.

   Address a topic related to the environment.  The topic should focus on basic features, processes, or environmental problems.
   See the 
project information   page for further details.  Projects are worth 25% of your final grade.

Question: What about Extra Credit?
Answer: You can do an addition optional Environmental Service work option for an extra maximum of 0.2 added to your grade. Service options organizations are shown on the web site and will be announced during the quarter. See the project information page. We also may offer additional service options, seminars, lectures and other types of environmentally related extra credit opportunities throughout the quarter. You will be notified of these via email.

Question: What is plagiarism and how can I avoid it?

Answer: Plagiarism, in plain and simple terms, is the stealing of someone else's words or ideas.  If you don't know what constitutes plagiarism, please visit the UW site at:

We love to see YOUR work, and that is certainly the best way to get the best possible grade. Don't worry that the English may not be perfect, though you should strive to use the clearest English possible. Get a friend to read your material and suggest changes. Rob has taken and taught courses in Portuguese and Swahili, and can certainly relate to the problems a person that knows English as a second language has. Only know that the more you write, the easier it is and the better you will be. Strive to relate ideas as best you can. Using pictures and figures certainly helps, as this language is Universal.  

For help in how to avoid plagiarism on your web site:

This is one way you can check for plagiarism:

Question: What is the format of the Exams?  How can I study for Exams 1, 2 and 3?

Answer:  Exams will include 40 multiple-choice questions.  Scantron sheets will be provided for students to take the exam. Questions will come from the reading, the online lectures, the current issues slides, and perhaps two from the discussion list, so we suggest you study from all of these sources. The exams are non-cumulative. Exam 1 is on Chapters 1-7, Exam 2 Chapters 8-13, and Exam 3 Chapters 14-19. You can study some of the previous exams available on the class website, but we'd suggest you also study the text and online lectures.

We hope to offer a CLUE session where you can review time material.

Question: What is the ESRM100/ENVIR110 Grade Appeal Policy?
Answer: Grading quizzes, exams and projects fairly is a difficult job, and I fully realize mistakes will be made, as I have made some big ones in the past.  Please make sure and check over any grades given to you and ask me if there is a question.

However, I also realize that it is unfair to give more credit that is warranted by the answer given.  In ESRM100/ENVIR110, requesting additional points isn't a fishing expedition, so you need to demonstrate to me that you actually did answer the question better than I thought.

The following policy applies to asking for more credit for any work done in the class:

1) You will become the "grader" for your answer.

2) Write down your SPECIFIC reasoning for more points than you were initially given. You should explain exactly why the grade wasn't correct, and how an answer or work was worth more credit than credit given.

3) State exactly how many points you feel the answer deserved.  I will only give that amount of points or nothing.  You could break down specific parts of the answer by the amounts of point, with the total not exceeding the number of points for that question.

4) Submit your reasoning by email with the subject heading "ESRM100 GRADE APPEAL-your name."  I'll grade it and return your exam with my reasoning for why I accept your reasoning or not.