330 - GE Area F - 4 Units
Cal Poly Land: Nature, Technology and Society
scientific investigation of the natural features of the
Cal Poly landscape and their transformations by land management
technology. Analysis of the environmental, economic, social,
and political effects of agricultural, resource extraction
and construction technology on that landscape. Emphasis
on the educational, land-use and long term planning issues
of technology presented by this case study.
OBJECTIVES AND CRITERIA
- Develop an awareness of how land management technology
influences and is influenced by nature and today's society,with
a special focus on the ten thousand acres of land belonging
to the University.
- Understand the workings of land managment technology,
including agricultural technology, resource extraction
technology, construction technology, and ecosystem survey
and restoration technology. (See Column C in Schedule--Section
- Learn to use technology to access and display relevant
spatial data from USGS topographical maps, aerial photographs
and internet map servers and to present their work on
web pages they produce individually and collaboratively.(see
week 1 in Schedule--section IV1)
- Appreciate the full range of regions, landscapes,
ecosystems and technological systems found within the
ten thousand acres of Cal Poly Land. (see Column B in
- Understand the scientific facts and principles underlying
the natural features of the Cal Poly landscape and their
technological transformation and study, including Geological,
Ecological, Biological, Historical, Aesthetic, Agricultural,
Resource Management and Recreational aspects. (see Column
A in Schedule--Section IV1)
- Critically examine the impacts of technology on the
land and on society from multiple perspectives, including
ethical, social, ecological, political, and economic
viewpoints.(See especially weeks 5-10 on Schedule--Section
- Become citizens informed and engaged enough to take
part in the ongoing political process of determining
wise long term use of land resources. (See Weeks 9 and
10 on Schedule--Section IV1)
- Develop skills in descriptive, expository and argumentative
writing by keeping a weekly journal of entries of at
least 500 words employing all three modes of discourse.
These journals will be graded and account for 60% of
their course grade.
- Develop skills not only in browsing but also in collaborative
composing for the World Wide Web. Most of the course
resource and study materials will be found on the web
site being developed by the Cal Poly Land Faculty Centennial
Seminar <http://polyland.calpoly.edu >. The
final project, counting for 40% of the final grade,
will consist of student group contributions of multimedia
components to expand and enhance this site.
- Develop oral presentation skills through short small-group
presentations to the class and presentation of their
final projects to the general public.
"Area F is designed to acquaint students with an awareness
of how technology influences and is influenced by today's
- Students will "understand the relationship between
technology and its scientific basis." They will
learn how technology furthers science and science furthers
technology in every aspect of this course. Examples:
Physics, mathematics and computer science promote development
of mapping technologies of Cal Poly land, ranging from
traditional surveys to GIS and GPS. Technological instrumentation
for measuring wind, precipitation, vulcanism, tectonic
plate movement, sedimentation, and water flow is is
required to gather the data underlying the sciences
of climatology, geology, hydrology and soil science.
These sciences affect the technology of architecture
and construction, of agriculture, and of resource and
ecosystem management applied to Cal Poly land. Botany
and zoology study living organisms and biosystems, generating
enhanced yields in agriculture and forestry and facilitating
sustainable technologies that minimize adverse impacts
on the environment. Policy decisions about appropriate
or competing uses of Cal Poly Land rely on scientific
inventories and projections which in turn rely on use
of up-to-date technologies. Empirical observation of
natural processes by earlier inhabitants of Cal Poly
Land, like Chumash and Spanish, yield differing technologies
of agriculture and resource management.
- Cal Poly Land's ten thousand acres in San Luis Obispo
and Santa Cruz Counties provides an extraordinarily
rich set of case studies illustrating "the mathematical,
technical, economic, commercial and social considerations
necessary for making rational ethical and humane technological
decisions." As a polytechnic institution Cal Poly
has from its inception used the land to develop, apply
and teach its students agricultural, resource management
and construction technologies. Such technological activity
has had both positive and negative consequences for
society and the environment. For example, damming Brizzolari
and Stenner creeks for irrigation destroyed steelhead
salmon migration routes, while creating Smith and Shepherd
reservoirs as stockponds created habitat for migrating
bird populations. Appropriate balancing of the complex
costs and benefits of technology requires that members
of this community be fully informed in the diverse subject
areas of this course. Extending such understanding is
particularly appropriate during Cal Poly's Centennial,
which is also the period of the initiation of the University'
Master Plan development process.
GENERAL EDUCATION CRITERIA
- This course "builds on the Area B foundation"
by requiring students' basic knowledge of mathematics
and sciences to understand principles of mapping and
computer modelling, the physics of plate tectonics and
hydrology, the chemistry of photosynthesis and fertilization,
and the biology of plant and animal communities.
- This course"will instruct students about one
or more areas of technology." Students will develop
hands-on knowledge of how to access spatial data from
internet map servers, aerial photographs and thematic
maps and how to construct web pages individually and
collaboratively. They will be instructed in the workings
of agricultural, resource management and construction
technologies, for example, water system, railroad, and
road construction, house, barn and fence design, SIMIS,
genetic engineering, organic farming, precision agriculture,
sustainable logging, and habitat restoration.
- This course "develops an awareness of how basic
scientific and mathematical knowledge is used to solve
technical problems," for instance 1)how precise
measurements of wind, atmospheric moisture and temperature
can reduce the total amount of irrigation water required
for optimum crop yields, 2)how understanding the degree
of expansion in given soils can lead to grading and
grazing practises that reduce erosion, 3)how poisoning
of competing tree species produces a forest monoculture
that can increase short term timber production.
- This course "develops an awareness of the methods
used and difficulties inherent in applying technology
to solve social, economic, scientific, mathematical,
artistic, and/or commercial problems," for instance
in its examination of the salt residues produced by
irrigation, the destruction of fish habitat created
by nitrogen rich runoff, the erosion produced by railroad
and road construction, logging and mining--all exemplified
by visits to sites on Cal Poly Land.
- This course "addresses the ethical implications
of technology" in its consideration of resource
consumption, pollution, downstream consequences of upstream
activities, examples set for students and community
by the University's high profile and public service
functions and the history of land use and acquisition
from Chumash to Mission to Rancho to ranchers to Federal
Government to Cal Poly.
- This course "includes critical examination of
technology from multiple perspectives" through
the presentations of professors of geography, architecture,
engineering, business, agriculture, natural resource
management, physics, biology, recreation administration
and literature who will staff it.
- This course "provides students with an historical,
contemporary and future-looking perspective of the technology"
by incorporating one unit on archaeology and human history
of Cal Poly Land, which includes discussion of food,
fibre and shelter production technologies from prehistoric
times to the present, one unit on construction technology
which will examine the history of infrastructure, including
waterworks, railroad, roads, fibre optic network among
others. Future looking perspectives on technology are
emphasized in the units on stewardship and land use
planning which will incorporate technologies of mitigation
of technological impacts and landscape restoration.
- This course "incorporates a writing component"
involving descriptive, expository and argumentative
writing by requiring students to keep a weekly journal
of entries employing all three modes of discourse. These
journals will be graded and account for 60% of their
- This course "requires completion of Area B"
as specified in item C1 above. The course also requires
completion of Area A.
- This course "requires junior standing."
- This course "is offered at the 300 level."
See detailed Syllabus
OF INSTRUCTION AND TEACHING STRATEGIES
Example of instructional format:
- Lectures--Mondays 3-5 in multimedia room.
These presentations will be based on a Cal Poly Land
website now in an early stage of development. It can
be accessed at
- Talk-Walks--Fridays 3-5 at various Cal Poly Land locations
Please see Column B of Schedule Table in Section IVA1
for itineraries and themes.
- Web and multimedia workshops--scheduled as needed
to keep up with 2001 technology.
Week 2s study assignment and lecture is the effect
of Physical Geography on land management technlogy. It covers
the geological processes and features defining Cal Poly
watersheds in Brizziolari, Stenner and Pennington canyons
and the surrounding mountains and watersheds and how they
affect agriculture, resource management and construction
Week 2s Talk-Walk starts at the mouth of the water
tunnel through Cuesta Ridge near the highest point of Cal
Poly Land, proceeds downstream through Stenner Cayon, and
terminates at the City Water Processing Plant and Railway
Trestle adjacent to Cheda Ranch. Observation focuses on
natural processes, particularly hydrological ones, local
history, and technology. The class observes hill and valley
formation, erosion and slippage, serpentine landforms, and
soils. The itinerary includes historic buildings at Serrano
Ranch, recently upgraded waterworks belonging to Cal Poly
and the City of SLO as well as irrigation system hand-dug
by Ernie Cheda between 1927 and 1932 and still functioning.
Railway history and technology is presented while crossing
the landmark Cuesta Grade right of way and passing under
the Stenner Creek Trestle. Attention is also focussed on
the current development of the railroad right of way as
a major intersection of trans and intercontinental fiber
Both lecture and talk-walk link particular sites on Cal
Poly land with statewide social and environmental issues
growing out of technological advances in water, transportation,
and communication systems.
- Lectures synthesize general concepts raised in the
assigned readings and on the website. They provide an
overview and outline of the weeks subject matter,
entertain questions, and prepare students for field
observations on Talk-walks. They present multimedia
materials best apprehended in a classroom situation,
e.g. photographs, maps, films, documents, diagrams,
flow-charts, readings of philosophical or literary merit.
They provide the opportunity for short group presentations.
- Talk-walks take the students to the places which constitute
the specific subject matter of the course, develop their
powers of observation and on-site analysis, allow them
to draw, photograph and describe what they find, make
for intense small group discussion between mini-lecture
stopping points, and invite participation by guest lecturers.
- Web multimedia workshops provide optional instruction
and practice for students not skilled in the basic technology
of web browsing and composing and for students who wish
to develop more sophisticated skills to apply to their
final group web technology projects.
- Students keep a weekly journal--on paper or or
as web site. Entries include written prose as well
as maps, diagrams, drawings, photos, and other forms
- Journal entries center on the weeks place
on Cal Poly Land, combining what students learn
from lecture-presentations and reading with what
they discover during the talk-walk and independent
- The weekly Journal entry has three elements, each
counting one third of the grade: 1) a descriptive
account of a place on Cal Poly Land 2) a scientific
explanation of how something observed was made and
how it works 3) a discussion of both sides of an
issue regarding land and technology.
- Journals are commented upon and graded regularly.
The total of journal grades comprises 60% of the
- Final Project
- During the time scheduled for the final exam,
the class makes a public presentation of its collaborative
work. The presentation is an updated and expanded
version of the Cal Poly Land website developed by
- Like the course itself, the website is divided
by abstract topic as well as by concrete place.
In groups of four, selected by major or previous
expertise, students assemble, elaborate and design
materials relevant to one of the first eight units
of the course, maintaining a focus on the central
theme of land management technology and the interplay
among nature, technology and society on Cal Poly
Land. For example, one group might work on the topic
of the railroad, including materials on the creation
of the Cuesta Grade right of way and trestle, the
role of the railroad in the founding of the University,
the constraints to Poly's Master Plan development
created by present railroad policies, and the safety
and maintenance of the section of track running
through the University, augmented by sounds of engines
and engineers. Each group is responsible for delivering
a high-quality component of the final website and
for a brief presentation to the whole class during
lectures and talk-walks. This ongoing group-work
encourages specialization to balance the multidisciplinary
scope of each students journal.
- The final grade on the group project counts 40%
of each students grade.
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