Soc 2213: Introduction to Human Ecology


Contact Information:
Dr. Frank Elwell
Office Hours: Daily 8:00 to 11:00
Office: 202-B Prep Hall
Phone: 918.343.7851

Required Texts:

Lenski, G. 2005. Ecological-Evolutionary Theory: Principles and Applications. Boulder: Paradigm.

Elwell, F. 2013. Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change. Canada: Athabasca University Press.*

Heinberg, R. 2011. The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality. Canada: New Society Publishers.

Pollan, Michael 2007. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Books.

Important Notice: E-mail communications with students will only be through the RSU student e-mail system. Students are responsible for checking their RSU student accounts on a regular basis.

Catalog Description: The study of complex and varied patterns of interaction between people and the environment with special attention to concepts, concerns, and methods of Environmental Studies.

This course is a requirement in the Environmental Studies Option of the BSSS, and an elective in the Sociology Option as well as in a Sociology Minor. The course can also be used as "Social Science Elective Credit" in any of the BSSS Options, the BALA Liberal Arts Electives Option taken in lieu of a minor, or for straight elective credit in any program. The course is also recommended for anyone interested in sociocultural evolution.

Writing Center: The RSU Writing Center is in Baird Hall 206. There you may access free writing help with any paper at any point of time while you are a student at RSU. Call 918.343.7838 to set up an appointment. The Writing Consultants are friendly and professional and can help you with any writing issue.

Course Objectives:

Course Goals

Program Goals Supported in B.S. in Social Science

How Evaluated

Acquisition of the macro-sociological approach in relating the various parts of the sociocultural system to one another and to the whole.

To develop a level of competence in the core disciplines of the social sciences to allow for further inquiry and study.

Exams & Class Discussions.

An appreciation for and ability to apply ecological-evolutionary theory in understanding and explaining sociocultural system stability and change.

To prepare students to function successfully in a society that is heading toward globalization and becoming more culturally diverse

Exams & Class Discussions.

An understanding of the historical/ comparative method as the basis of sociological/anthropological science.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Exams & Class Discussions.

Demonstrate the ability for inductive and deductive reasoning; that is reasoning from the specific to a general perspective as well as from a general perspective to a specific case.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Exams & Class Discussions.

Americans with Disabilities Act: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended. Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs. Students needing more information about Student Disability Services should contact Kendra Cagle, Coordinator of Student Disability Services at Rogers State University, 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017 or 918-343-6828. Rogers State University, 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017 or 918-343-6828.

Work Required & Grading: Students should have the indicated units (see below) completed by the examination dates. Completion of the unit means doing all required reading and participating in class discussions.

This course is quite demanding and requires higher order skills of synthesis, critical thinking, and integration. The vocabulary words are measuring the far more basic skill of memorization. While most undergraduates are good at it (and thus it boosts many grades), there are a few in every class who struggle with it (I was never very good at it either). For students like us it takes discipline, repetition, and actual use to finally sink in. I suggest handwritten flash cards to people who are in our predicament. I should add that in addition to boosting grades mastering the vocabulary is really the first step in mastering a subject area—it can only help you in the rest of the course (and in life itself).

For help in completing writing assignments in this class I highly recommend that you visit the RSU Writing Center in Baird Hall 206.

The essay and short answer questions on your exams are questions that are designed to do the following:

    1. Solicit the main points of the readings and presentations, thereby helping you master the course material;
    2. Draw comparisons to other readings;
    3. Elicit your evaluations of the material;
    4. Give you opportunity to improve your course grade.

Exams: There will be three exams given in class on the days indicated unless other arrangements have been made. For the short-answer questions you must address the question specifically and in accordance with your readings. For the essays, you must do more than simply answer the questions, you must demonstrate to me that you have actively read and mastered the material. It is expected that you will answer these questions in considerably more detail. The final exam will be in the same format, and will be given on Thursday, May 9 at 9:30 am in PH 203.

 Grading: As stated above, there will be three unit examinations in this class each worth 100 points. In addition you are to turn in your completed Study Guide essays and short-answers by the day of each exam; at 100 points each these assignments are worth a total of 300 points as well. Finally, you will have 10 vocabulary quizzes worth a total of 100 total points:

Two Exams


Book Reviews


Class Participation




Final grades will be based on the percentage of points earned:

    • 90 - 100% =A
    • 80 - 89% = B
    • 70 - 79% = C
    • 60 - 69% = D
    • below 60% = F

All exams and written assignments are graded in accordance with the standards explained on the attached Grading Rubric.

Make-up Policy: The student must have a valid excuse for missing an exam. Arrangements must be made to take the make-up at the end of the semester during Finals Week.

Student Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): I know that this seems like a significant amount of work. This is not an easy class. But if you are of average intelligence, have some interest in social issues, and have a good work ethic ("Life is easier when you work hard.") you will do fine. So that this is clearly understood I ask each of you to print, sign, and turn in the Student MOU.

Course Outline: Directed studies students will do two 7 to 8 page book reviews on two of the four books in the course, one for the mid-term and one for the final. Directions for this Review will be emailed to students the first week of class.

The course and reading assignments are in two parts, with an examination at the end of each unit:

Unit 1: Sociocultural Systems
Ecological-Evolutionary Theory: Principles and Applications.
Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change.
Mid-term Exam

Unit 2: Hyper-Industrial Societies.
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Final Exam

Attendance: Both physical and mental attendance should be regular. Traditional lecture material is presented off of this web site. Class time will be spent in discussion, occasional presentations, and perhaps the viewing of films. To take full advantage of this class (and to get a passing grade) you should attend all scheduled class meetings. Inappropriate classroom behavior (sleeping, talking, and other disruptive behavior) will be cause for dismissal from the classroom. This is a blended course. It is important that you attend both physically and mentally. Studying the texts and the lecture/ presentations are key. Inappropriate classroom behavior will cause you to be dismissed from the class.

Academic Integrity: By signing your name to a test or paper you are indicating that the work is yours and yours alone. Any academic cheating will result in failure of the course. "Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted, e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge" (Office of Academic Affairs, Rogers State University). One of the social problems that appears to be on the rise in American society is academic dishonesty. Don't do it!

Classroom Organization: Much of the class will be given over to informed discussion. You should begin your reading immediately, in the order stated below. In addition, you should go through the "Introduction" and the "World Problems" class presentations by the second meeting. I will keep you informed in class (or more likely through e-mail) of the specific due dates of your reading assignments. While the occasional articles I will send through e-mail are usually optional, reading them will help you master class material. Class discussion will often center on the required readings and the instructor presentations. It is therefore imperative that all assigned reading be done in a timely fashion.

A Final Point: You are encouraged to ask questions on the readings either in class or through e-mail. It is not expected that you will always agree with the perspectives of the instructor or the authors of other texts. As have all human beings we have been influenced by the values of our society as well as our roles in various social structures. However, it is the duty of the social scientist to acknowledge these influences and attempt to minimize their effects upon social analysis. Should the resulting analyses be counter to your perceptions, challenge them on the basis of empirical fact, logic, and reason--not ideology, prejudice, wishful thinking, or "politically correct" assertions. The goal of this course is for you to develop your own critical thought processes and world view, not for you to blindly accept any one perspective.

 Updated Continuously
©Frank Elwell Send comments to felwell at

*Any royalties earned from the sale of my books at the Rogers State University Bookstore will be donated to the RSU Foundation and be used to strengthen the Liberal Arts.