Science & Policy of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

ANSC/GEOG/METEO 332N: Science & Policy of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lecture Location: Sackett 322
Lecture Time: T/H 3:05-4:20PM 

Lead Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Baka 
Office: 320 Walker Building             
Office Hours: T/H 1:30-2:30PM                                                                                   

TA: Lily Campbell                       
Office: 416 Walker Building
Office Hours: W 1-3PM 

Instructor: Professor Ken Davis                              
Office: 512 Walker Building    
Office Hours: T/H 4:30-5:30PM 

Instructor: Professor Alex Hristov                          
Office: 352 Ag. Sciences & Industry            
Office Hours: TBD 

This is a co-taught course amongst Dr. Baka (Geography, lead instructor) Professor Ken Davis, Meteorology (weeks 1, 2, 3 & 6); Professor Alex Hristov, Agricultural Sciences (weeks 10 & 11); 

Course description:

This interdomain course introduces students to the science and policy of greenhouse gas emissions. The course focuses on emissions from natural sources, energy production and food production. Policy components will introduce students to the fundamentals of environmental policy and examine key policy options for mitigating and managing emissions. Global in scope, the course will also address how emissions and policy options differ in developed and developing countries. Topics will include overviews of the global carbon cycle, agriculture and land use change emissions, history of global energy use and production, overview of global climate change policy, frontiers in climate, energy and agriculture policy, amongst others. 

The course is divided into two parts: 1) science and policy of the carbon cycle (weeks 1-8); 2) science and policy of the agricultural sector (weeks 9-15). Course assignments consist of: 1) homeworks; 2) in class quizzes; 3) two exams; 3) one final, individual, paper.   

Anticipated learning outcomes:

By the end of this course the students will be able to:

  1. List GHGs that change the earth’s climate.
  2. Describe the major sources and sinks of natural and anthropogenic GHGs.
  3. Describe, quantitatively and qualitatively, the contribution of various human activities to global GHG inventories.
  4. Formulate sector-specific GHG mitigation practices and policies and analyze their potential efficacy.
  5. Evaluate the climate, economic, and ethical impacts and implications of specific GHG mitigation strategies, considering available resources, projected population growth, and cultural constraints.
  6. Understand the policy tradeoffs of GHG management and mitigation strategies from more than one socio-economic or cultural perspective.
  7. Integrate and apply concepts from the natural and social sciences to evaluate different policy options for mitigating GHG emissions. 

Course materials:

Readings consist of articles and policy documents. All articles for the course are posted on the course Canvas website.

Course assessment

Final grades will be determined by a number of factors. The course breakdown is as follows: 

  • Homeworks: 5 @ 1% each for a total of 5% of grade. Homework questions are meant to help prepare you for the quizzes and exams. You will receive credit for turning in homework and demonstrating a reasonable effort to complete the questions. 
  • Quizzes: 6 @ 6.6% each for a total of 40% of grade. Quizzes will be given in class and last approximately 20 minutes each.
  • Exams: 2 @ 15% each for a total of 30% of grade. Exam 1 will cover materials from weeks 1-7 and Exam 2 will cover materials from weeks 9-14. Exams will consist of a mix of quantitative problems and short answer questions.
  • Final paper: One 5-page final paper will count for 20% of grade. You will be assigned a policy scenario and will be asked to analyze the scenario drawing on concepts/methods from the course. You will be asked to integrate materials from both parts of the course in the paper. The paper will be due the Tuesday of Finals Week. 

Participation: 5%. Participation grades will be assigned based on class attendance and contributions in class. 

Grading rubric

Final grades will be assigned using the following classification:


Late assignment policy

All assignments are to be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on their due-date. Late assignments are subject to a 10% penalty per-day, effective as of midnight of the original due-date (i.e. an assignment submitted at 12:00 am will be penalized). Weekends count as 1.5 days or 15%. Assignments will not be accepted (i.e., will receive a grade of 0) after 11:59 pm of the Thursday following the original due date.

  • A 100% to 94%
  • A- < 94% to 90%
  • B+ < 90% to 87%
  • B < 87% to 84%
  • B- < 84% to 80%
  • C+ < 80% to 77%
  • C < 77% to 70%
  • D < 70% to 60%
  • F < 60% to 0%


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy: Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Accommodation for disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

Academic integrity

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations.  Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately.  Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others.  Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course.  Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Plagiarism and cheating are both academic crimes. Never (1) turn in an assignment that you did not write yourself, (2) turn in an assignment for this class that you previously turned in for another class, (3) cheat on an exam or quiz. If you do so, it may result in a failing grade for the class, and possibly even suspension from the college. Please see me if you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism. Anyone caught cheating on an assignment or exam will be reported to the provost in line with recognized university procedures. Any violations of academic integrity will be dealt with following the University’s procedures, which are described in detail at 

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Penn State E-mail accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. 

Course copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws. 

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 

Classroom disruption

Behavior occurring within the academic arena, including but not limited to classroom disruption or obstruction of teaching, is within the jurisdiction of the Office of Judicial Affairs ( In cases of alleged campus and/or classroom disruption, a faculty member, teaching assistant and/or administrator may take immediate action to restore order and/or to prevent further disruption (e.g., removal of student(s) from class or other setting).  Instructors have original jurisdiction to address the immediacy of a situation, as they deem appropriate. When necessary and appropriate, Public Safety and/or the local police may be contacted to assist with restoring peace and order. Instructors response is forwarded to the department head (or his or her designee) for review, and if necessary, further action. Examples of disruptive behavior range from allowing cell phones to ring/texting during class, surfing the internet, using social media, arriving to class late, reading newspapers in class to the more serious offenses of making physical threats to instructors, and/ or other students. These physical threats would include challenging the authority of the instructor in a threatening manner.  Harassment of the instructors or other students as a result of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality or disability, is not tolerated by the university and will be immediately forwarded to the department head ( If you have any questions or concerns about this classroom disruption policy, please bring them to the attention of your instructor or department head.

Diversity, inclusion, and respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Reporting bias-motivated incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Mandated reporting statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework.  For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

Counseling and psychological services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Disclaimer statement

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes will be posted to the course discussion forum.