The Planet Assignment #3: Ecological Struggles – Part I: Annotated Bibliography

John Bellamy Foster suggests that vulnerability to ecological violence may be correlated with socio-economic or geographical characteristics rather than being distributed equally across all humanity. These unequal effects are played out in struggles over access to natural resources, consumption and the disposal of harmful industrial byproducts. For this assignment, you will conduct research into the current debate over a specific ecological vulnerability related to natural resources. Your tasks are 1) to create a preliminary bibliography of 20 sources and 2) to summarize and put into conversation 5 of those sources in an annotated bibliography. This assignment prepares you to complete your next assignment, a research essay that intervenes in a current debate over ecological vulnerability.

Part 1: Preliminary Bibliography. Create a bibliography of twenty (20) scholarly sources that investigate the use of that resource by humans. For this exercise, you need not read the texts but you should include only texts to which you have access through the CUNY library system.

Part 2: Annotated Bibliography. Narrow your list of sources by focusing on five (5) that discuss the ecological vulnerabilities of a specific socio-economic or geographic group related to a natural resource. For each item on this bibliography, write an annotation of 300 words (1 page) that succinctly summarizes the source and provides a brief critical evaluation of the source’s argument. You will also write a 500-word (1.5 pages) introduction to your annotated bibliography in which you briefly describe the ecological vulnerability you have researched and provide an outline of the current scholarly debate.

Audience: The scholarly community within and beyond the class

Format: 5 academic sources, 300 words per source, plus 500 word introduction (6-7 pages)

Advice: The best bibliographies will include entries from a range of sources, including: academic journals accessed through the library databases, books accessed through CUNY+, general interest publications such as Nature, Science, and National Geographic, among others; and the websites of governmental or non-governmental organizations. The best summaries will be focused on the source’s main contribution to the debate you are researching and will evaluate its usefulness for understanding ecological vulnerability.

(FOR INSTRUCTORS ONLY)

Type: Present research within the conventions of a genre that is particularly relevant to the course topic

Rationale:  The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice identifying, accessing, and interpreting academic sources. The sequence of identifying 20 sources and then selecting and analyzing 5 in greater depth provides a model for narrowing the focus of a research topic in order to develop a specific argument.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. A workshop in the library focused on databases and other sources related to ecological debates
  2. A follow-up session in class focused on using keywords to access academic sources
  3. In-class writing and discussion on annotating, paraphrasing, and summarizing sources
  4. In-class activities to practice formatting entries for a Works Cited page

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