Biology 4400 Environmental Issues Instructor Joanne Tippett

 

Written paper, Spring 2002

This assignment is instead of a final exam. It is an opportunity for you to explore an idea or topic in depth. The paper will be evaluated on synthesis of information during the course and from your reading, evidence of critical thinking, originality and writing (spelling, grammar, etc.) Essays should be typed.

This assignment is due in two parts. There is a mid-way assessment that MUST be handed in, and which is worth 10% of your overall grade. The essay is worth 30% of your overall grade. If you do not hand in the mid term part of the assignment you WILL NOT get credit for the 10%.

The final essay will be 1500 - 2000 words in length. Remember, these essays are to be typed, and there is a word count function in most word programs. In Microsoft Word, this is under 'Tools'. Your instructor also has a remarkable in-built capacity to estimate the amount that you have written. Double spaced 12 point type is roughly 250 words per page.

Part One - Mid Way Assessment

Each student will hand in work towards the essay on Monday, March 18. This will consist of:

      A thesis statement. This is the idea or proposition which your intend to explore.

      A Mind Map of the overall structure of your essay. This will show the arguments that you will cover in exploring your thesis statement, and should demonstrate the overall structure of your essay. The order and structure can, and probably should, change as you write your later draft of the essay, but is a very important first stage in planning your reading and research to cover your topic. It will also assist you in writing a clear paper, with a beginning, middle and end - or thesis, exploration of ideas showing links to information you have learned on the course, and a conclusion which draws some major themes and points from your exploration.

      A working bibliography, properly referenced (see information on referencing below). This is a list of books and articles that address the ideas in your paper - these should look at related issues, and can be supportive or counter to your argument. The best papers will present a balanced point of view that shows both quotes and documentation that is supportive of your thesis and that which runs counter to your thesis. You must read and quote from at least four books or journal articles outside of the textbook. See below for more information on resources.

 


Part Two - Final Essay:

Essay assignments are due Monday April 29, in lecture. You MUST hand in the work that you did towards the mid term assessment, with the instructor's comments at the same time. I wish to look at how you have developed your ideas from the original piece of work. You do not need to redo the mid term assessment work - hand it in as you did earlier, as it will not be remarked. What I will be assessing is the final product, and the use you made of the comments I made on your midterm assessment.

I expect you to formulate an argument and explore it, showing evidence of your own thinking as well as of reading around the subject (there are many books on reserve in the library, there are some articles in a folder under reserve in the library, there is a list of recommended readings, and many articles and links can be found from the web site for this course). Of course, you can also find your own readings.

I am looking for a clear structure, a logical argument and evidence that you have thought about the subject in some depth. When reading other people's ideas, pay attention to the mental models which underlie that person's assumptions. In particular, look to see if research has been funded by groups with vested interests (for instance research on climate change funded by large oil companies may have a different interpretation of data, or may ask very different questions than research funded by the United Nations.)

I am NOT looking for a book-report, or encyclopedia type writing, in which you just place a lot of facts together. I am looking for analysis and exploration of your own ideas in relationship to the ideas of others. Remember that it is perfectly valid to present an argument that you feel that the instructor will disagree with, as long as you back up your thinking with a logical argument and supportive evidence from your outside reading.

Make sure you spell check and proof read your essay.

Please note that there is a lot of very useful information in the Academic Services Center in the library, with hand outs explaining many aspects of the academic process. You may also come and see me after class if you would like further explanation and help. In the folder in the library, there is an example of an A level essay.

Notes on referencing:

Referencing to follow the Harvard Style, notes below.

When quoting directly, you must place quotations marks around the quote.

e.g. Hardin Tibbs has described industrial ecology as a shift in industrial patterns which "takes the pattern of the natural environment as a model for solving environmental problems, creating a new paradigm for the industrial system, ...[which involves] designing industrial infrastructures as if they were a series of interlocking ecosystems." (Tibbs, 1992, pg. 5).The words in [ ] are words that I added to make sense of the quote in this context. The .... implies that I left out a few words from the quote. Always put the year of publication, and if quoting directly, the page number.

The reference for this quote goes in the bibliography, and should look like this:

Tibbs, H. (1992) Industrial Ecology, An Environmental Agenda for Industry, Whole Earth Review, Winter 1992 pp. 4-19

If you refer to a person's ideas, but do not quote that person directly, you should place the person's name after the idea, as below, and should also place a reference in the bibliography. Remember that if you do not do this, and claim the idea as your own, that is still considered to be plagiarism.

e.g. Design decisions depend on whether or not time is considered to be a commodity to be saved or a quality with many variables. (Whitelegg 1993).

(In the bibliography) Whitelegg, J. (1993) Transport for a Sustainable Future, The Case for Europe, Bellhaven Press, London

I will only accept web sites as sources if you write a 1-2 sentence explanation of why this web site is valuable and why it is a credible source of information (an example might be the Environmental Protection Agency Web Site in order to gain up-to-date information on wetlands designation, credible because there is much research funded by the US government to support its ideas. You may use some of the web site article of thinkers that I have mentioned on the course, or that appear on the recommended reading list - such as Herman Daly's work. This is because these thinkers are well respected and many of the articles have previously been published in peer-reviewed journals.

If quoting from the web, please look for author, date, name of the publication where the article was first published (if this is appropriate), the URL of the page you found the web site on, and if possible, the name of the organization which posted the web page, and the URL of the home page, and the date you accessed the site.

If you wish to use examples and quotes from the Bible, please note that these must be backed up with an exploration of their meaning, and preferably also with an exploration of another thinker who has written about that idea and has explored it in some depth. It is not enough to simply quote from the Bible as a way of backing up your ideas without taking the analysis further.

Notes on Plagiarism and Cheating

You will be given an F grade for plagiarism, or the copying of other people's ideas and claiming them as your own. This includes taking a person's ideas and simply rewording the idea without referencing the person who developed the idea in the first place. (see above on referencing).

I encourage you to use the readings and ideas that you are developing in other classes to assist with this essay. Please note, however, that you must write an entirely original essay for this course, and that you cannot hand in work that you have completed for another class for this course. If you wish to explore an idea, for which you have already written another paper, in more depth, you may use some of the same ideas and reading material, but you must write another essay from the perspective of this class.

Essay questions:

Choose one question from the following list. You may request to answer a different question that particularly interests you, as long as it is of similar depth and relevance to the course as the ones above. This must be agreed upon between student and instructor before the mid term assessment work is due.

1.      It is essential that we look at whole watersheds when restoring creeks. Discuss.

2.      Discuss the importance of river restoration to creating a sustainable society, with reference to economics, ecology and social equity.

3.      Discuss the value of looking at patterns in nature for enhancing sustainability in planning decisions.

4.      "If trade is made freer, the world will get richer, and that is the surest way to make it cleaner too." The Economist, October 9, 1999. Discuss.

5.      Theories of natural selection (Darwinism) have been used to justify many economic and social decisions. Discuss the relationship between mental models of evolution and economics, exploring how a view of Gaian evolution, - interaction between organisms and environment, and symbiosis, or co-operation among species, could change our view of economics.

6.      Explore the role of a particular species in a wetland environment, with reference to the wetland's function within the watershed of which it is a part.

7.      How could urban agriculture be encouraged, and what are the potential effects of a great increase in urban agriculture?

8.      Should ecological tax reform be instituted in the USA? Discuss.

9.      Discuss the opportunities and potential difficulties that would come from a comprehensive adoption of ecological design in Higher Education facilities.

10.  World peace is inextricably linked with regional self-sufficiency in food, resources and energy. Discuss.

 

Recommended Readings: (also a folder of articles and resources will be placed in library on reserve)

There are many resources for these papers on the web - linked from: www.holocene.net/sustainability/dominican.htm - under Notes on Assignments

 

General reading:

Any of the books on reserve in the library for this class

Nattrass, Brian and Altomare, Mary The Natural Step for Business: Wealth, Ecology & the Evolutionary Corporation (Conscientious Commerce) http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/insider/april99/tns.cfm

Hawken, Paul and Lovins, A. and L. (1999), Natural Capitalism

Hawken, Paul, 1993, The Ecology of Commerce, Harper Business

Van der Ryn, Sim, and Cowan, Stuart, Ecological Design

Johnson, Huey, D., Green Plans, Greenprint for Sustainability, 1995, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

 

 

Books recommended by Question

 

1. It is essential that we look at whole watersheds when restoring creeks. Discuss.

Riley, A. (1998). Restoring Streams in Cities: A Guide for Planners, Policymakers, and Citizens. Washington DC, Island Press.

 

2. Discuss the importance of river restoration to creating a sustainable society, with reference to economics, ecology and social equity.

Riley, A. (1998). Restoring Streams in Cities:A Guide for Planners, Policymakers, and Citizens. Washington DC, Island Press.

General texts on sustainability

 

3. Discuss the value of looking at patterns in nature for enhancing sustainability in planning decisions.

Alexander, C. (1977). A Pattern Language.

Briggs, J. (1992). Fractals, the Patterns of Chaos. London, Thames and Hudson.

Gleick (1987). Chaos. New York, Penguin.

Capra, F. (1996). The Web of Life. New York, Anchor Books.

 

4. "If trade is made freer, the world will get richer, and that is the surest way to make it cleaner too." The Economist, October 9, 1999. Discuss.

Lappe, F. M. and J. Collins (1986). World Hunger, Twelve Myths. London, Earthscan Publications.

Shiva, Vandana (1989) Staying Alive, Women, Ecology and Development, Zed Books, Bath

Real Life Economics: Understanding Wealth Creation, edited by Paul Ekins and Manfred-Max-Neef, 1992.

Human Scale Development: Conception, Application and Further Reflections, by Manfred Max-Neef, E. Antonio and M. Hopenhayne, Apex Press, New York, 1991.

For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Towards Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future, by Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb Jr., Greenprint, London, 1990.

Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics, edited by R. Costanza, O. Segura, and J. Martinez-Alier. Washington D.C.: Island Press.

Galbraith, John Kenneth, and Salinger, Nicole, 1978, Almost Everyone's Guide to Economics, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston

 

5. Theories of natural selection (Darwinism) have been used to justify many economic and social decisions. Discuss the relationship between mental models of evolution and economics, exploring how a view of Gaian evolution, - interaction between organisms and environment, and symbiosis, or co-operation among species, could change our view of economics.

Capra, Fritjof (1996) The Web of Life, Anchor Books, New York

Goldsmith, Edward, (1993) The Way, An Ecological World View, Shambhala Publications, Boston

Lovelock, James, 1991, Gaia, The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, Gaia Books, Ltd. UK

Margulis, Lynn, and Sagan, Dorion, 1987, Microcosmos, Allen and Unwin, London

Ornstein, Robert and Ehrlich, Robert, 1989, New World New Mind, Doubleday, NY

Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

6. Explore the role of a particular species in a wetland environment, with reference to the wetland's function within the watershed of which it is a part.

 

7. How could urban agriculture be encouraged, and what are the potential effects of a great increase in urban agriculture?

Register, Richard, 1987, Ecocity Berkeley, Building Cities for a Healthy Future, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California

Bookchin, Murray, 1987, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco

McHarg, Ian (1967) Design with Nature, The Natural History Press, USA

Fukuoka, M. and L.-t. a. e. Korn (1978). The One Straw Revolution, an Introduction to Natural Farming.

 

8. Should ecological tax reform be instituted in the USA? Discuss.

Daly and John B. Cobb Jr., Greenprint, London, 1990.

Real Life Economics: Understanding Wealth Creation, edited by Paul Ekins and Manfred-Max-Neef, 1992.

Hawken, Paul and Lovins, A. and L. (1999), Natural Capitalism

Hawken, Paul, 1993, The Ecology of Commerce, Harper Business

 

9. Discuss the opportunities and potential difficulties that would come from a comprehensive adoption of ecological design in Higher Education facilities.

Van der Ryn, Sim, and Cowan, Stuart, Ecological Design

Johnson, Huey, D., Green Plans, Greenprint for Sustainability, 1995, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Lyle, John Tillman, 1994, Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development, John Wiley and Sons, New York

Postman, Neil and Weingartner, Charles, 1969, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Delacorte Press, New York

 

10. World peace is inextricably linked with regional self-sufficiency in food, resources and energy. Discuss.

Real Life Economics: Understanding Wealth Creation, edited by Paul Ekins and Manfred-Max-Neef, 1992.

Bookchin, Murray, 1987, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco

Jacobs, J. (1985). Cities and the Wealth of Nations - Principles of Economic Life. New York, Vintage.

Prugh, T., R. Constanza, et al. (1995). Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival. Solomons, MD, ISEE Press.

Shiva, V. (1989) Staying Alive, Women, Ecology and Development, Zed Books, Bath

Aberley, D. (ed.) 1993) Boundaries of Home, Mapping for Regional Empowerment, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada

Wendell Berry, The Futility of Global Thinking

Korten, David, When Corporations Rule the World

For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Towards Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future, by Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb Jr., Greenprint, London, 1990.

Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics, edited by R. Costanza, O. Segura, and J. Martinez-Alier. Washington D.C.: Island Press.