All course information is listed within this syllabus.

ENT 202N: Insect Connections: Insects, Globalization and Sustainability (3 credits). This course is an introduction to the diversity of insects and the ways in which they interact with humans and impact our world. This is a science course that will use an interdisciplinary approach to look at the biology and interplay between insects, nature, and society. Emphasis will be placed on critical analysis of both the costs and the benefits of insects' activities that impact our world in natural and managed systems.

Prerequisites: None

ENT 202N fulfills a general education requirement for natural sciences (GN) as well as for social and behavioral sciences (GS).


Instructor for ENT 202N

Jared Gregory Ali, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Entomology

Director, Center for Chemical Ecology
Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Endowed Chair of Chemical Ecology

Department of Entomology
535 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Educational/Professional Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University (2013), Ecol. & Evol. Biology
  • Ph.D., University of Florida (2011), Entomology & Nematology
  • MSc, University of Delaware (2008), Entomology & Applied Ecology

Research Interests

My focus is on the behavior and chemical ecology of mutli-trophic interactions. This includes plant responses to belowground herbivory, nematode and insect community ecology, chemical ecology, and coevolution. Research projects include trophic cascades, above-belowground interactions, chemotaxis of soil nematodes, and the evolution of plant defense strategies.


E-mailing me: I will endeavor to respond to every e-mail within 24 hours. If you haven't received a response within 48 hours, please check your spam folder. If you still don't see a reply from me, something is probably amiss. Please try a different way to contact me (phone, Canvas messaging). I don't want to miss any messages! Be aware that I do not check email after 7 p.m.

E-mailing you: I will occasionally e-mail members of the class. Please check your e-mail regularly to be sure you get the info I send out. Occasionally the e-mails may inform you that action is needed on your part to earn extra credit, or a deadline for an assignment has changed, etc., so it is important that you get these e-mails. By default, I will use your PSU e-mail address. If you don't use this address, or prefer I use a different e-mail address, just let me know.

Course Overview

What I want you to get from this course is pretty simple.

First, I want you to become familiar with insects, so the next time you see that thing crawling on your friend's neck you can calm their fears, using your knowledge about insects and other arthropods.

Second, I want you to get an appreciation for the important good and bad things insects do for us. Many have central roles in sustaining our world, and yet other types of insects are responsible for transmitting devastating diseases that kill millions of people every year. Through this course, you will discover that insects are so important to people that they are often a component of art, literature, and religion. Without them, life as we know it would end.

Third, I want you to come away with a little better understanding of how the process of science works. You are asked to believe something 'scientific' every day, on the morning news, in what you read, even in course materials. How do you know what to believe? Is global warming real? Does it matter? How much should you be worried about the Zika virus and mosquitoes? Some of what you hear is true, some is partly true, and some is untrue. I'd like you to know enough to tell the difference between truth and hype and maybe make better decisions based on this knowledge, for example, when voting on policies that affect our environment or shopping for insecticides at the hardware store.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of ENT 202N, students will:

  • Demonstrate mastery of the course material. During the course of this semester, you will illustrate your comprehension of the course material by correctly answering multiple-choice and T/F questions on 24 short online quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam.
  • Learn and demonstrate new knowledge about the amazing way insects and biology work through listening to or viewing podcasts and videos followed by answering questions about what you heard and/or viewed.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

There is no textbook required for this course. Everything you need to know is in the modules or found via hyperlinks in the modules.


You are required to take the Academic Integrity Quiz and pass the Orientation Quiz in Canvas with at least 80% during the first week of classes to gain access to the course content. The Orientation Quiz will walk you through questions about academic integrity and Syllabus information; you may take this as many times as you like and receive up to 10 points towards your final grade.

Online Quizzes

You are required to complete 2 modules and the quiz associated with those modules each week (unless otherwise stipulated in the Course Summary). However, for those who like to work ahead, 4 quizzes will be open at a time with the due date listed in several places, including the subheading for each quiz, on the Course Summary and on the Calendar in Canvas. Thus, during the semester there will be 24 online quizzes (taken in Canvas) and each quiz will be worth 10 points. There will be 10 questions per quiz with a 15-minute time limit; you may take each quiz twice and receive the highest score between your 2 attempts. The lowest 4 of the 24 quiz scores will be dropped, thus the total points available on quizzes is 200. Quiz questions are randomly selected from a large bank of questions for each module. You are permitted to use your lecture notes for the quizzes; however, you must take the quiz without the assistance of anyone else unless you have written permission from me. Quizzes will open at 7 a.m. and close on the date they are due at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Podcasts/TED Talks and Homework

Homework assignments are found on the Assignments tab in Canvas and will have specific due dates associated with them, shown in the Syllabus and on the Calendar. There will be a link to a podcast or TED Talk and a link to a Word document with questions for you to answer. Download the Word doc and listen/watch the podcast or video. After answering the questions, upload your document to the same web page on which you found the assignment. These assignments must be completed and/or submitted online to Canvas by the due date. All assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. on the day they are due. Late assignments will not be accepted. Each of the 6 homework assignments is worth 10 points for a total of 60 points towards your final grade. Do not leave these assignments until the last minute because you may not be able to log in due to server demand, or the server may go down for a short time preventing you from finishing the assignment. Note that your answers MUST come from the podcast or video associated with the assignment because that is the point of the assignment. If you look up answers with information that is NOT covered in the podcast or video, your answer will not count and may even be incorrect.

Note: The only allowable formats for uploading assignments are: .doc, .docx, and .pdf. If you do not have MS Office for preparing assignments, you can download it for free from PSU at Office 365.

Midterm and Final Exams

Students will take the midterm mid-semester and the final exam during finals week online using Canvas. Each exam will consist of a random selection of multiple-choice and T/F questions from the same banks of questions used for the online quizzes and the exam will be timed; you will have 75 minutes to answer 100 questions. The final exam will not be cumulative but will be on material covered in class since the midterm unless I specifically indicate topics from the midterm that will be included in the final. Exact dates/times for these exams are shown on the Course Summary and if changes occur, you will be notified by e-mail.

To help you study for exams, I will reopen quizzes 1–11 one week before the midterm and quizzes 12–24 one week before the final to help you study. However, you may not use notes or revisit course content (modules or other websites) while taking the midterm or final exams. Doing so will be considered cheating and a violation of academic integrity. We are able to monitor web activity during an exam.

I do not expect you to know the two-word Latin name of any insect (genus and species); these names are always in italics. For example, I do not expect you to know that the gypsy moth's scientific name is Lymantria dispar. In some cases, the Latin names are shown in the text of a module, but you do not need to memorize these names. For example, you might see the phrase "gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) eat oak leaves" in a lesson. I also do not expect you to know the number of species within a given insect order; the information on this is to give you a relative idea of how common an order is and the number of named species in an order is constantly changing.

Glossary of New Terms for Your Use

A glossary of definitions of scientific terminology as used in entomology is available for your use and can be found in the Resources Module in Canvas. Terms are listed alphabetically. If at any time you are not certain of the definition of a scientific term, please ask.

Missed and Late Assignments

There will be no make-up quizzes. Students can drop 4 of the 24 quizzes, so I encourage you to avoid missing a quiz so you can use your dropped quizzes for low-scoring quizzes rather than 0's. In other words, don't assume you will get 100% on 20 quizzes so you can just miss 4; this won't happen for most of you and you will need to cover the material anyway for the midterm and final exams. If you are online taking a quiz or uploading your assignment to a dropbox and a technical problem arises, send me an e-mail about it immediately. This is your proof that a problem occurred and will permit me to help you complete the assignment.

Remember, you will need to complete 2 modules per week and the quizzes for those modules to keep up.

If you are unable to take the midterm or final exam during the dates scheduled, inform me at least 10 days in advance so that I may make other arrangements for you. If an emergency or illness should prevent you from taking your exam within the allotted time frame, e-mail me or leave me a voicemail at my office that day if at all possible so I may work with you to reschedule (814-863-6369).

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Orientation Quiz 10
Assignments 60
Quizzes (20 of 24) 200
Exams 100
TOTAL: 370

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 93%
A- < 93% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 83%
B- < 83% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 76%
C < 76% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Your grades will be updated in Canvas throughout the semester, so you will know exactly where you stand at all times. (Note that in this grading scale, the less-than symbol (<) means a value below the number it precedes. So for example, a 93 is an A, and a 92.9 is a B+). If you find discrepancies between what you think your grades should be and what you find in Canvas, please let me know as soon as possible. If you're struggling in this class, feel you could be doing better, or you're not having fun or have a question, PLEASE contact me. I will do my very best to answer your e-mail within a few hours and at most within 24 hours.

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Support Services

As a student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the following resources for more information:

Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures, and the Code of Conduct).

Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride in fostering 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 on the Bias Response page.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their Web Privacy Statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

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 AD40, 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.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. 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.

Accommodations for Persons With 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 website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

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' 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.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

Course Availability

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