Managing for a Changing Climate

August 21, 2017
W 4:30-5:45
METR 3523.001


McPherson, Renee
Adjunct Associate Professor


STRC 1030   View map


Fall 2017

            Managing for a Changing Climate – GEOG/METR 3523


This course will provide an integrative understanding of the components of the climate system including the range of natural climate variability and external drivers of climate change, in addition to impacts of a changing climate on multiple sectors such as the economy, policy, ecosystems, and indigenous populations.

Class: GEOG/METR 3523 – Managing for a Changing Climate

Time: Tuesdays, 5:00-6:15pm

Location: Stephenson Research and Technology Center, Room 1030 (The Core) Instructors: Dr. Renee McPherson ( and Emma Kuster (primary contact at,  Five  Partners  Place,  Suite  2100, 405-325-0539

TA: Briana Lynch (

Office hours:

Dr. Renee McPherson: Mondays from 5:30-7:00pm (Wagner Hall, Room 240) Briana Lynch: Mondays & Thursdays from 1:00-3:30pm (NWC, Room 5110) Emma Kuster: By appointment only.

Course design: This course will use Janux, an interactive learning community created in partnership between OU and technology leader NextThought. Janux is the first-of-its-kind in OpenCourseWare, combining multimedia-rich content with interactive social tools and a broader learning community to connect learners and teachers in an unparalleled learning environment. Portions of the Janux environment will be open to members of the general public registered for the online portion of the course.

OU students registered for credit will be expected to watch 2-6 instructor-developed videos per week, read assigned material, and interact with each other and the instructors through comments and discussion in the Janux environment. These activities will be in lieu of attending a regular lecture, and it is absolutely imperative that they are completed in a timely manner. Once per week, students will meet for a 1hr 15min session in which instructors will connect course concepts to management decisions and students will participate in active learning via discussions, peer review, and project work. The instructors strongly suggest that students create a weekly study schedule which includes meeting times, course content, and deadlines to help them stay on track.

Materials: There is no required text. All videos, assignment details, and additional information will be available on The instructors will not be able to help if you encounter any problems with the platform. Needs for technological assistance should be addressed to the NextThought Tech Support for website issues and OU IT for all other technological issues.

Grading                      The final grade will be calculated based on the following weights:


Individual Writing Assignments35%
Online Assignments10%
In-Class Participation10%
Online Discussion Participation10%
Semester Project35%


Percentages necessary to earn a given final grade will be no higher than the following (i.e., a curve may be applied at the end of the semester to raise grades, but not to lower them):



Individual Writing Assignments

Over the course of the semester, students will individually complete four short papers worth 10% of their grade each. Homework assignments are to be posted on the Janux dropbox pages by midnight on the due date. Late assignments will be graded at a deduction rate of 10% per 24 hour period after the deadline. Late assignments will not be accepted more than 72 hours after a deadline. There will be no makeup homework exercises without prior approval by the appropriate instructor. Each writing assignment will have a rubric that reflects how instructors will score the assignment.

Online Assignments and Quizzes

Students will also complete online auto-graded assignments on the Janux platform. These include an online code of conduct (.5%), a course readiness quiz (.75%), and seven additional short online quizzes (1.25% each) addressing the content of the videos and

readings. Each online assignment must be completed by midnight on the due date.


Participation will be graded every four weeks (5% per quarter) and will encompass student involvement in the Janux environment and the in-person sessions. Students have a responsibility to inform instructors prior to absences whenever possible. Students must obtain written notes for medical appointments. Instructors will make every effort to reasonably accommodate students who miss class due to Provost-approved University- sponsored activities or legally required activities (ex: emergency military service, jury duty).

Please look at the participation rubric to see how instructors will score your in-person and online participation.


Semester Project

Students will apply the knowledge learned in the course to a country that is active in the United Nations. At the start of the semester, students will be assigned to pre-selected countries. Students will participate in group activities throughout the semester that will help them translate the course material into a real-world context. The project will encompass four assignments worth 8.75% each.

These group activities will culminate in a mock United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation. Groups will debate each other about potential international policy actions, ending in a formal vote for policy adoption. Each student will be individually evaluated on their ability to synthesize the material from the semester into a successful negotiation strategy for their country team.

Other Information

Students will read materials for a particular class period before the start of class.

All cell phones must be turned off. There will be no text messaging or web surfing during class unless the instructor requests or approves that you do so.

Should you decide to drop the course for whatever reason, you must submit the relevant forms to the Office of the Registrar by the appropriate date. Failing to do so will result in an F grade for the course. If at the time you withdraw from the course you are scoring a failing grade, you will receive an F grade. If not, you will receive a W for withdrawn.

It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required classwork that may fall on religious holidays. Please contact us as soon as possible to make appropriate arrangements for classwork or rescheduling of exams.

The University is committed to providing reasonable accommodation for all students with disabilities. If you have a disability that may prevent your from fully demonstrating your abilities, contact us directly as soon as possible so that accommodations can be made.

Students must be registered with the Disability Resource Center (620 Elm Avenue, Suite 166, phone 405/325-3852) prior to receiving accommodations in this course.

You are expected to be familiar with and abide by the OU Academic Misconduct Code. Information on this code is at AllCampusStudentCode.pdf Anything that appears to be cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Apparent misconduct will be dealt with by immediate referral of the circumstances through the regular University channels.

We have the right to institute new policies during the semester to ensure safety and a positive learning environment for all students.

Title IX Resources and Reporting Requirement

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, or stalking, the University offers a variety of resources. To learn more or to report an incident, please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at 405-325-2215 (8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday) or Incidents can also be reported confidentially to OU Advocates at 405-615-0013 (phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Also, please be advised that a professor/GA/TA is required to report instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination to the Sexual Misconduct Office.

Inquiries regarding non- discrimination policies may be directed to: Bobby J. Mason, University Equal Opportunity Officer and Title IX Coordinator at 405-325-3546 or For more information, visit


Course Outline


Week ofLesson to CompleteAssignments
Aug 21Course OverviewCode of conduct due Aug 25
Course overview quiz due Aug 25
Aug 281.1 Energy in our Climate SystemQuiz 1 due Sep 4
1.2 Climate & Carbon
Sep 41.3 Natural Climate Variability
2.1 Modeling our Global ClimatePaper 1 due Sep 15
Quiz 2 due Sep 11
Sep 112.2 Modeling our Regional ClimateRecorded presentations due Sep 18
3.1 Using Climate ProjectionsQuiz 3 due Sep 18
Sep 183.2 Observing our Climate
Sep 253.3 Assessing Climate Change & ImpactsPresentation Q&A session on Sep 26
Quiz 4 due Oct 2
Oct 24.1 Intro to Policy & EconomicsPaper 2 due Oct 20
Oct 94.2 Vulnerability & Culture (Part 1)
Oct 164.2 Vulnerability & Culture (Part 2)Quiz 5 due Oct 23
Oct 235.1 Decision-Making & Climate ImpactsPolicy Proposals in class Oct 31
Oct 305.2 Impacts to Coasts & WildlifeQuiz 6 due Nov 6
Nov 65.3 Impacts to EcosystemsPaper 3 due Nov 17
Nov 135.4 Human Health & SecurityQuiz 7 due Nov 27
Nov 205.5 Adaptation Strategies
Nov 27Team Speeches in class on Nov 28
Dec 4Mock UN Debate in class on Dec 5
Reflection papers due Dec 5


Specific assignment and project details to be given in class