Jan Term in June 2020

Jan Term is excited to offer 2 upper-division courses and a travel course for June 2020!


JAN 100-01 Energy Sustainability with Alexandra LaGatta

JAN 101-01 The Science of Cooking with Jay Chugh



JAN 170-01 Endangered Australia: Wildlife and Culture with Derek Marks


JAN 100-01 Energy Sustainability

Instructor: Alexandra LaGatta, abl4@stmarys-ca.edu

Meets: MThThF   12:00 PM - 2:35 PM

Course Fee: $200

Pre-Requisites:  MATH 14 or 27, or by Permission of Instructor


The world's population is growing exponentially. World energy consumption is expected to grow by 50% by 2050. How do we meet this demand in the face of global warming, air pollution, and environmental destruction?

One billion people still lack access to electricity. Access to electricity is directly correlated to improvements in human development (productivity, prosperity, education, gender equality, healthcare, safety).  

This course investigates our current energy supplies, and the infrastructure built on burning fossil fuels. Students will become intimately familiar with the production of electricity and the incredible amount of work that goes into flipping on a light switch. They will build a motor and simple generator during lab. They will visit a state-of-the-art co-generation natural gas-powered power plant that achieves a remarkable 58%  efficiency. Other field trips will be to the Geysers Geothermal Power Plant (largest in the world) and the NIF at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.  

We delve into the repercussions of burning fossil fuels. Increased carbon dioxide concentrations are correlated with increased global temperatures, the decline in ice sheets, and sea-level rise. Solar, wind, and micro-hydro offer promising alternatives but are they enough to replace the efficiency and low cost of fossil fuel-derived power? How do we cover our baseload when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing? How do we fuel the transportation sector without oil?  

Students will read scientific peer-reviewed papers on the latest and best ideas addressing these questions. Students will quantitatively assess various energy options, given current prices and efficiencies. Armed with information, they will slowly and deliberately piece together the puzzle of what the future of energy must look like if the human race will continue to thrive. 

Field Trips:

  • Field trip to Lawrence Livermore National Lab (3.5-4 hrs)
  • Field trip to Russell City Energy Center  (3.5-4 hrs) 
  • Field Trip to the Geysers Geothermal Power Plant (7-8 hrs)

Reading List:

  • Energy: its Use and Environment, Hinrichs and Kleinbach, 5th Ed. 
  • Climate Change Performance Index, Results 2019 
  • Global Warming's New Math, Bill McKibben 
  • Peer-reviewed articles by Dan Kammen, Richard Muller, and Ted Nordhaus

Basis for Final Grade:

  • 45%  2 Exams                                     
  • 30%  Lab/HW/Field Trips                   
  • 20%  Final Project                               
  •   5%  Participation, Professionalism     


Learning Outcomes:

  • Have a basic understanding of climate change and what is causing it
  • Be familiar with their own carbon footprint
  • Understand modern-day energy supply
  • Understand active photovoltaic systems and be able to size a system
  • Understand why climate change solutions must be tackled differently in developed versus developing nations
  • Remember the principles of sustainable living as they embark on their life journey
  • Understand the future of energy supply and consumption


JAN 101-01 The Science of Cooking

Instructor: Jay Chugh, nchugh@stmarys-ca.edu

Meets: TuWTh 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Hacienda de las Flores (Moraga)

Course Fee: $150

Pre-Requisites:  none


Cooking represents one of the earliest forms of scientific inquiry. Through curious observation, followed
by careful and repeated experimentation, our recipes have evolved over hundreds of years. But what is the science behind cooking? What molecular changes drive culinary successes (or failures)?

In this course, we will reflect on past culinary traditions and critically evaluate the ethical, legal,
biological, and political ramifications of current agricultural transformations. We then learn about the
science of cooking and apply it while we design and create our own meals through inquiry-driven, hands-on
experimentation. We will capitalize on our interdisciplinary understanding of culinary science to shape
a new vision of cooking and eating, thereby strengthening our present and future roles as nurturing family
members, responsible community members, thoughtful consumers, and productive citizens.
All students who harbor a genuine enthusiasm for the science of cooking are welcome. A basic understanding of cooking practices is recommended.

Reading List: 

  • Harold McGee, "On Food and Cooking"
  • Cooks Illustrated, "The Science of Good Cooking"
  • Kenji Alt-Lopez, "The Food Lab"
  • Michael Pollan, "Omnivore's Dilemma"

Basis for Final Grade:

  • 20% Quality of active daily participation
  • 20% lab notebook
  • 20% recipe journal
  • 20% research paper (8-10 pages)
  • 20% final exam

Learning Outcomes:

  • At the end of this course, students will be able to
  • Apply the scientific method to everyday situations, especially to food preparations
  • Describe the specific chemical processes that occur during cooking and eating
  • Contrast past and present culinary and farming traditions
  • Critically evaluate the ethical, legal, biological, and political ramifications of agricultural transformations as informed, responsible, and productive citizens, future leaders, and budding gourmands


JAN 170-01 Endangered Australia: Wildlife and Culture

Instructor: Derek Marks, dwm1@stmarys-ca.edu

Course Fee: $5000

Pre-Requisites:  ANTH 001, BIO 001, BIO 002, BIO 007, BIO 010, EES 030, EES 050, EES 092 or by permission of the Instructor.



Australia is one of the most important nations on Earth for biodiversity, as it is home to more species than any other developed country. Most of Australia’s wildlife is found nowhere else in the world, making conservation even more critical. Sadly, however, Australia is facing an extinction crisis. It has the planet’s worst mammal extinction rate and a high proportion of their surviving animals and plants (over 1,700 species) are listed as endangered!

Over the centuries, Indigenous Australians (Aboriginals) have suffered a similar fate as the wildlife. They have been brutally mistreated and forced out of their native lands where they had lived for millennia. Currently, however, a quiet revolution is growing where Aboriginals are fighting to preserve their culture and the natural environment through work with conservation programs throughout the country.  This symbiotic relationship is helping bring Aboriginals back to their native lands while playing a critical role in the wildlife conservation movement. 

This mission of this course is to survey and participate in Australian wildlife conservation efforts while developing a hands-on understanding of the relationship it shares with Aboriginal culture. We will visit and volunteer at wildlife conservation programs, Aboriginal sites, and national parks in order to gain an appreciation of how these organizations operate and to witness how Aboriginal culture is contributing to the wildlife conservation movement. Conservation professionals, park rangers, biologists, and Aboriginal leaders will provide us educational opportunities to help us better understand effects that habitat damage, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species, and climate change are having on native species and ecosystems.

Our journey begins in the ecologically and culturally diverse state of New South Wales where we will explore rainforests, eucalyptus forests, coastal wetlands and beaches. A 5-day community engagement experience at the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park, a unique animal sanctuary that combines wildlife conservation with Aboriginal traditions will highlight the tour of this region.  It will provide us with a first- hand experience on how a conservation program is organized and managed. We will also spend several days working with two community-based wildlife conservation programs; Wombat Care Bundanoon and the Southern Highlands Koala Sanctuary. We will provide them with facilities maintenance and development as well as habitat management services while working alongside the organizations’ volunteers and organizers.

The second half of our journey brings us to the city of Cairns, known as “the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef” in tropical north Queensland. While there, we will visit the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest on earth, and experience a Dreamwalk with Aboriginal Elders. We will spend a day at a crocodile sanctuary and farm where a unique, and successful approach to Saltwater Crocodile conservation is being practiced. We will take an environmentalist-led ‘jungle cruise’ to spot wild crocs and learn about river ecology. A full-day will be spent on the Great Barrier Reef with marine biologists and Aboriginal Rangers to provide us a unique education on the status of one of the worlds’ quickly diminishing natural wonders. Finally, our trip will conclude with 3 days on the tropical, rainforest-covered national park of Fitzroy Island. This pristine island sits on the outer boundary of the Great Barrier Reef and will provide ample opportunity to experience marine wildlife both in and out of the water. We will work with the “Save Our Sea Turtles” organization on the island and will also assist their marine biologists to gather data for an ongoing reef shark research project.

Other activities and opportunities during this course include ample hiking, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, and visiting cultural sites during free time.  Accommodations will include fully-equipped self-contained cabins and some hotels. Throughout the course, students should expect to participate in regular, moderate to heavy physical activity, especially during volunteer experiences. Conditions will often be hot and humid with ample rain.


Reading List:

  • After the Future: Australia's New Extinction Crisis. Black Inc.; 48th edition (November 19, 2012). ISBN-13: 978-1863955829
  • Little Red Yellow Black Book. Aboriginal Studies Press; Third Edition, Third edition (January 1, 2013). ISBN-13: 978-1922059147

Basis for Final Grade:

  • 35% Communityengagementandwildlieconseationeseachpaper
  • 25%   Daily Reflective Journal
  • 10% Final exam on reading material and from experiences during the class 
  • 15% Day Trip - Group Presentation 
  • 15% Quality of participation. This is a subjective grade based on enthusiasm, teamwork, and participation in required activities, as well as consideration of the group, country, its citizens, and culture.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the ‘five principle pressures’ facing Australian wildlife and what their specific impact is on the environment, habitat, and wildlife in the country.
  • Describe how the Aboriginal and Australian conservation cultures work together to protect and preserve wildlife.
  • List the outcomes of Aboriginal involvement on the Australian wildlife conservation movement and on how their participation has helped their own culture.
  • Discuss the various wildlife conservation strategies utilized in New South Wales and Queensland and how they differ based on the environment, habitat, and wildlife.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Australian history and culture.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world from a specific non-U.S. and non-Western European viewpoint. (GP)
  • Apply academic methods and/or theories in a way that promotes collaboration and mutual benefit in a community setting (CE)
  • Demonstrate critical reflection throughout their experience (CE)
  • Express their understanding of the interconnections between their experience and their responsibilities as members of social or professional communities (CE)