The Planet Assignment #4: Ecological Struggles – Part II: Research Essay

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. Scholars disagree over how these ecological struggles are defined and how they might be addressed. Your task in this assignment is to describe a specific ecological vulnerability related to natural resources and to propose an original strategy for addressing it based on substantive academic research.

Audience: The scholarly community within and beyond the class

Format: 2500 words (7-8 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best essays will build from the existing scholarly debate over the ecological vulnerability under discussion in order to propose an original solution. All elements of the best essays, from the order in which the topics are introduced to the style and syntax of the sentences, will serve the arguments being advanced and the solution being proposed.


Type: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to engage students in a current scholarly debate and to give them practice with synthesizing information gathered from various sources. Students apply their emerging understandings of ecology, natural resources, and vulnerability in a real-world context: the vulnerability of a specific socio-economic or geographical group related to natural resources.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. In-class activities with “making room in a debate” using Mark Gaipa’s strategies
  2. In-class writing and peer review activities focused on developing and reinforcing thesis statements through structure, analysis and reflection
  3. Peer review focused on clarity, organization/structure, and proper formatting of in-text citations and Works Cited page entries

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