Reaction Papers

Students are responsible for writing a 1–2 page reaction paper based on the readings (or another assigned topic) for each week's class for a total of eight reaction papers. Papers are due in the class for which the reading is assigned. Reaction papers are your personal response to the week's readings. These papers should offer an overview of the main points of the book or articles under consideration. It should also include your own assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of these readings and, if possible, should link the reading at hand to other readings from the course or topics discussed in class.

Reaction papers are worth 40% of the final grade.

Final Research Paper

Students are also responsible for a 20 page research paper exploring an environmental issue in which they are interested and which will be due in the final class. Students are encouraged to focus on an instance of environmental conflict as a way to explore the social, cultural and environmental issues involved as well as the differing stakes held by a variety of actors. Past topics with which students have engaged include: Contestation over health and mercury emissions in the United States; global warming as an environmental justice issue; environmental concerns over increased automobile use in China; the re-introduction of endangered species in the U.S. West; the environmental concerns embodied in architectural plans for the River Rouge car factory in Detroit, MI; air pollution debates in Mexico City; and tensions over alligator / human interactions in the U.S. South.

Each student will also give a 10 minute oral presentation based on their research paper during the last class session. The oral presentation should offer an overview of the final research paper and raise issues of broader interest and concern for debate among their classmates.

The final paper will be worth 40% of the final grade. The oral presentation and class participation will be worth 20% of the final grade.

Extra Credit (Or a Makeup if You Miss the Field Trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery)

Take a ferry boat to Spectacle Island. Write a response-style 1–2 page paper on the histories of Spectacle Island and changing conceptions of "nature" such that "parks" are increasingly built out of "wastelands."