Dr. Alycia Lackey: Bio 103-Saving Planet Earth at Murray State University

About this Course

An introductory course for non-majors.

Two 75-minute lecture sessions

Bio 103 Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 169kB Jul5 17)

At the end of this course that covers a broad spectrum of human impacts on the earth, we used Unit 1 Introduction to Environmental Justice to discuss how people make decisions about their interactions with the environment. Earlier in the course, students had already developed an understanding of human impacts on the environment and political, philosophical, and social perspectives.

Incorporating this unit strengthened students' understanding of environmental justice, which prepared them to answer application questions related to making decisions about human interactions with the environment.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

These materials strengthen class content on environmental justice by having students discuss the history of environmental justice and identify examples of cases where decisions would involve environmental justice principles. This greatly improved how students applied these ideas to climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies we had covered earlier in the semester.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

Unit 1 comprised about 60 minutes of a 75-min lecture session. I implemented this unit in our last week of class. Earlier in the semester, we covered a variety of ways humans interact with the environment including human population growth, threats to biodiversity, agriculture, pollution (air, water, solid), and climate change.

I integrated this unit into content on environmental ethics and law. I modified the activities and PowerPoint slides given my students' previous experience with human interactions with the environment. I revised the assessment to challenge students to apply ideas of environmental justice to a recent topic (climate change response strategies) we had covered.

Classes were usually 50% lecture and 50% in-class group work and discussion. Thus, students were used to interactive, small-group activities as well as whole-class discussion.


I assessed students using the group worksheets, which I graded for completion. I had planned to have groups synthesize their answers and present them to the class in a single PowerPoint slide, but we ran out of time in class. The group worksheets reflected that students realized that decisions about responses to human interactions with the environment involve weighing out costs and benefits from perspectives involving justice and economics as well as values placed on outcomes for humans and the rest of the environment. The worksheet encouraged students to discuss these topics and apply ideas of environmental justice to a topic we had recently covered.


My goal for incorporating this unit was to develop student understanding of environmental justice so they could complete the worksheet activity with a stronger background about making decisions involving human interactions with the environment. Student responses reflected their understanding that environmental decisions involve costs and benefits for different groups of people as well as other organisms and habitats. We had discussed worldviews and economic choices earlier in the semester, but using this unit provided the students with a much stronger foundation in environmental justice that allowed them to address application questions.

Classroom Context