Social Science Seminar

Title of Course 
Freshmen Social Science Seminar: People and the Environment 

Dave Stutz 
e-mail: or click here 
Class webpage: 


Course Description 
People and the Environment is a yearlong freshman social science seminar designed as an overview of contemporary themes in the social sciences. Much of the early focus will be on developing social science skills and exploring ancient history; later units will center on present-day topics of global concern. Subject matter covered will include: 

    • development of personal and social identity 
    • the role of social scientists in researching humankind’s past
    • human origins and migrations
    • culture and myth
    • meso-American, eastern, and Mediterranean civilizations (rotated yearly)
    • population and population-related issues
    • natural resources, pollution, and human-created disasters
    • war, intolerance, and genocide in the 20th century
    • additional subjects of current and future concern
All topics will be addressed in an interdisciplinary style, thematically integrated with activities in English, science, and math courses, and set in the context of examining world history and environmental concerns. 

Course Outline/Calendar 
Semester 1: You Are Here 
A. Why are you here? 

    • Weeks 1-3
    1. Personal identities 
    2. School identities
    3. Group identities
    4. Cultural identities
    5. National identities
B. How do we know?  
    • Weeks 4-6
    1. Social scientists and the ‘ologies’
    2. Methods of obtaining information
    3. Examples of significant finds
    4. Hieroglyphics

C. Where are we from?  

    • Weeks 7-18
    1. Human origins
    2. People and migrations
    3. Culture and myth
      1. Creation Mythology
      2. Greek, Egyptian and/or Native American Mythology
    1. Ancient empires
      1. Near East
      2. Middle America
      3. Rome
Semester 2: Forks in the Road 
A. Population and disease
    • Weeks 1-2, 4-7
    1. Growth
    2. Energy, food, and resource use
    3. Human/animal origins of disease
    4. Social and historical effects of diseases
      1. Bubonic Plague (Europe)
      2. Smallpox (Americas)
B. Natural Resources 
    • Weeks 12-14
    1. Environmental holocausts
    2. Bio-destruction and pollution
C. Human Rights, prejudice, and intolerance
    • Weeks 3, 8-11, 15-18
    1. Civil Rights in the USA
    2. The Holocaust and present day genocide
    3. Vietnam and the 60’s
D. Which path to follow? End of unit discussion topics:
    1. Current events and technological development
    2. Future alternatives
  • Text - Perry, M. (1985). A History of the World
  • Assignment Notebook
  • A three ring binder, loose-leaf paper, and pen/pencil daily
  • 5 floppy discs (PC formatted) and a plastic disc protector
  • Additional resources and readings as supplied in class
General Information about homework and other assignments 

Grades in the class are not weighted. That means that points are worth the same, whether on a test, quiz, homework, or in-class assignment.  

As a general rule: 

    • In-class assignment = 5-10 points
    • Reading/Question set = 10-20 points
    • Test/Quiz  = 25-50 points
    • Presentation/PowerPoint = 25-50 points
It is very important that all assignments are completed, as those points do add up. No student that has turned in all assignments has ever failed. This is not because of a mercy policy; it is because just doing all the work puts you into the best possible situation to do well.  

Extra credit is generally not given out, although some (unannounced) assignments may be graded as extra credit. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all work is turned in- it is of great benefit to your grade to do so! 

Make up procedures and extra help opportunities 

*Mr. Stutz is always in the school until at least 4PM. This is the single best time to meet with him and get extra help. Make arrangements and stick around for a bit - during the school day it is virtually impossible to meet for extra help* 

Make up work can be completed in accordance with the House of Biotechnology/Environmental Studies policy: 

  • Students who miss class will have 1 day per absence to turn work in ‘on time.’ Thereafter, the assignment will be ‘late.’
  • Late assignments will only be accepted within three days of the ‘on time’ due date upon receipt of a parent/guardian phone call granting permission to accept said assignment. Such assignments will receive a maximum grade of 82%.
  • If the work is graded on the basis of being completed during a class period, no late work will be accepted.
  • It is the student's responsibility to approach Mr. Stutz to determine what work is missing and make arrangements to redo such assignments.
Grading scale 

Per Kenosha Unified School District policy, the grading scale is as follows: 
    • 99% and above- A+
    • 95 - 98% - A
    • 93 -94% - A-
    • 91 - 92% - B+
    • 87 - 90% - B
    • 85 - 86% - B-
  • 83 - 84% - C+
  • 79 - 82%- C
  • 77 - 78% - C-
  • 75 - 76% - D+
  • 72 - 74% - D
  • 70 - 71% - D-
  • Below 70% -F
Classroom Procedures and Rules 

Students at the start of the year set class-specific rules. There are 4 general rules Mr. Stutz expects to be followed: 

    1. Arrive in class on time with paper, binder, writing utensil, and any previously designated materials
    2. Students are to remain in their seats until Mr. Stutz has dismissed the class
    3. Swearing and derogatory remarks have no place in the classroom and will not be tolerated
    4. Accord those who are speaking (including teachers and students) the respect, courtesy, and quiet they deserve
course standards and benchmarks