White Paper
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International Environmental Issues (EnvS 225)


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Course Description
Course Objectives
bulletGeneral Course Design
bulletCourse Text
bulletE-Reserve Readings
bullet Threaded Discussions/Participation
bullet Evaluating Threaded Discussions
bulletWhite Paper
Final Grade Breakdown

Course Description
This course is designed for individuals who have an interest in understanding environmental issues from a global perspective. The course focuses on various social, political, economic, historical, religious, and physical issues related to the environment and natural resources.

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Course Objectives
Among other things, students should be able to do the following after this course:

bulletUnderstand the complexity and interconnectedness of major environmental issues
bulletUnderstand the processes of international environmental problem solving
bulletBe able to defend in writing, data-based recommendations to mitigate selected global environmental problems
bulletDemonstrate understanding of selected environmental problems from different disciplinary perspectives

Some important tips for success in this course:

Self-discipline   Online courses require a fair amount of self-discipline, organizational skills, and the ability to be self-motivated.  Because they move along at a rapid pace and are concentrated, your success as a student is dependant on your attentiveness to meeting deadlines. Your colleagues are relying on you to participate and interact with them in a timely and appropriate manner.

Reading & research   There are over a hundred pages of reading each week, so it is imperative that time for reading be incorporated into your schedule of activities.  In addition, outside research is expected beyond the required readings, so that you will need to plan on a certain amount of time devoted to research and reading in order to meet all of your obligations.

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A. Pre-requisites

1. Internet knowledge
2. Access to World Wide Web and email (at least 28.8 Kbps modem)
3. Background in environmental science not necessary, but useful

B. General Course design
All course materials, except certain printed materials described below, can be accessed from the following Internet address: http://www.webs.uidaho.edu/envs225 The course is designed in a weekly assignment format with three required components: readings, Blackboard postings and responses, and a research paper.

Students are expected to work through the assignments within the time period of a week. Assignments are to be turned in no later than the given due date. There is a threaded discussion area on Blackboard for the purposes of facilitating interaction among students. It is advisable to post by the Friday earlier than the deadline so that there will be ample time for others to respond to a posting. The Blackboard discussions will cover specific weekly questions posted under Questions in the left menu, and will involve readings from both the course textbook, Collapse, and E-Reserve readings.

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C. Course Textbook

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
By Jared Diamond

This text can be purchased at the UI bookstore, or ordered through Amazon.com

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D. E-Reserve Readings
Weekly e-reserve readings can be accessed directly by a link, or through the University of Idaho Library webpage: www.lib.uidaho.edu/access_services/reserve/




1)         Go to the UI Library homepage (www.lib.uidaho.edu).

2)        Select “Reserve” from the choices in the left-hand column.

3)        Select the link to perform a “Course Reserve Search”.

4)        You can search for a class either by department (i.e. E for Env. Science) or the professor’s last name (i.e. H for Harvey).

5)         Electronic resources will appear at the top of the page; books or files on physical reserve will appear at the bottom of the page. When you click on the citation links for the e-reserve readings, you will be prompted to enter the following username and password information:


   Username:   reserve



   Password:   Dit39tb               

             If you have any questions, please call 208 885-6495.

Finding the Articles:
bulletSearch for the name of the course on the above website
Environmental Science 225: International Environmental Issues OR
Instructor: Sharon Harvey
bulletClick on the name of the course OR instructor and
bulletSelect the reading for the week

bulletLogin to the EnvS225 Blackboard course to locate the Username & Password for E-Reserve access
bulletDownload Acrobat Reader if you don't already have it to view the articles.

The e-reserve reading questions can be accessed on the left menu of the course website under Questions.

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E. Threaded Discussions/Participation
Your active participation is required in this course. You will participate through threaded discussions. Remember to treat this like a conversation.
You are required to answer the questions on Collapse and E-Reserve readings and post them - about 1 page long each.  WARNING: Do not wait until the end for your postings. The postings should all be up by Sunday to allow adequate time for responses, and even earlier is better. You will also respond to any fellow student's postings on  Collapse and E-reserve readings by Tuesday midnight of each week of the course. Although the deadline states "midnight" for Tuesday, be informed that blackboard actually closes at 11:55 p.m. on Tuesdays! You will post twice and respond twice weekly for Collapse and E-Reserve questions. A minimum of 10 readings is expected for full credit, (about 1/3 of the entries), and more entries read is optimal. 

You are also encouraged to respond to any concerns or questions someone may have regarding your response to the topic. Your discussions will be evaluated on quantity, quality, and critical thought. Here are some thoughts that may shed some light on your discourse:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of:
    bullet The major issues in the required reading.
  2. Analyze these issues in the light of the assigned reading:
    bullet What is the author's perspective on the issues raised by the presenter?
    bulletDid the presenter miss the point given the author's perspective or is it the     other way around?
  3. In addition to the presenter's solutions, suggest other solutions to the     current issues. For example, are the presenter's, the author's, and your solutions. . .
bulletEconomically feasible?
bulletSocially & culturally acceptable?
bulletScientifically/technically sound?
bulletPolitically "palatable"?
Evaluating Threaded Discussion
Quantity Quality Critical Thought
Did the student post the required number of times? (i.e., at least two responses: one to initial question and one to a fellow student's response)

Did they exceed the minimum number of postings?


Did the student utilize the required learning resources in their response?

Was the student's response well reasoned and thoughtful?

Did the student stay on topic?


Did the student's response attempt to synthesize the postings of their fellow students and the learning resources?

Did the student attempt to engage in professional "dialogue" with other members of the course?

Did the student respond professionally to the critique of fellow students?

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G. White paper

White Paper Timeline and Guidelines 
All weekly drafts are to be submitted via the assignment drop box on Blackboard

A major component of this course is a "White Paper," or policy paper. You will be assigned a major environmental category (air, water, biodiversity, waste management, soil, or marine and coastal resources) to research in one of the following countries: India, China, Kenya, Haiti, Australia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, or Argentina. You will present a problem statement, the background surrounding the problem (the causes or why such problem exists, and what has been done already), identify stakeholders, and propose 2-3 alternatives to mitigate the problem based on your research.  (I will be giving feedback on your drafts all along the way so that you will continually revise your work.) Note: The last week is a shorter week than the rest, so plan your work accordingly to be done on time.

1. THE PROBLEM: Selection of an issue to analyze (Issue definition):  
(Due on June 12th)
bullet Write the issue in one sentence (or in the form of a question).
bulletBe sure to mention the specific environmental issue, country, and specific locality of your proposed research (see White Paper on course menu for the general issue and country that is assigned to you).

2. BACKGROUND: Identification of salient variables creating the problem or hindering its improvement, and efforts of the past to address the problem:
(Due on June 19th)
bulletAccompany your problem statement with a background. Most likely the problem will be subject to further refinement as you gain more knowledge and insights into the issue.
bulletConsider any relevant historical, cultural, religious, political, scientific, or economic variables that have affected the problem.
bulletFocus on the cause or causes of the problem at hand.
bulletResearch and evaluate former attempts at addressing the problem.

3. STAKEHOLDER'S ANALYSIS: Identification of stakeholders concerned with the issue: 
(Due on June 26th)
bullet Identify the stakeholders that are active on the issue you have selected. Some may fall under the following broad categories:

1. Management agencies
2. Environmental groups

     a. Domestic/local
     b. International/regional

3. Products interests
4. Citizens/local

bullet What are the objectives of each stakeholder surrounding the issue selected? Different stakeholders might have competing interests or their interests might be similar.
bullet What resources (financial, political clout . . . etc) do the various stakeholders bring to bear in attempts to further their interest(s)?
bulletDiscuss how will you need to appeal to the stakeholders (what's in it for them?) with your recommendations.
bulletWho is going to implement your policy?

4. ALTERNATIVES: Construction of alternatives related to the issue: 
(Due on July 3rd)

Identify and analyze 2 or 3 alternatives for mitigating the problem.
Number them, and each alternative should be stated as conclusive and specific as possible in the first sentence. You can then elaborate further the remaining details of implementation, procedure, etc.

5. DEFENSE: What are the possible outcomes of each of the alternatives from the perspective of each interest group? What does each stakeholder gain or lose? (Due on July 10th)

6. CONCLUSION: Choose your BEST policy alternative to mitigate the problem and defend it. Is the policy alternative:  
bulletScientifically (technically) sound?
bulletPolitically palatable?
bulletSocially and culturally acceptable?
bulletEconomically feasible?

(Due on July 17th)

FINAL DRAFT of the Completed White Paper: Due the last day of class -

July 25th, by 5 p.m.

The format of the final policy paper is to have clear designations throughout with each of the section titles bold or highlighted, (e.g., Problem, Background,...), rather than a smooth flowing paper style. The papers should be double-spaced, 12 font, Times New Roman, 1.5'' side margins, with a length anywhere from 8-18 pages. All research should be clearly documented with a bibliography or references at the end. Avoid last minute referencing by making those insertions as you present weekly drafts. Please note these paper guidelines, as you will lose points for incorrect formatting, etc.

Late assignments (drafts) will not be accepted for credit without prior arrangement with the instructor.


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This section explains the weekly required activities for this course.

  1. Reading assignments in Collapse and E-Reserve
  2. Threaded discussions on Blackboard on questions from Collapse and E-Reserve
  3. Research and write a paper on an environmental problem from a selected country

(Drafts of specified sections of the paper are due weekly)

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Evaluation/Grade Breakdown
Your final grade for the course will be calculated from the course requirements and will be weighted as follows:

12 Postings (15 pts. ea) 180 pts
12 Responses (10 pts. ea) 120 pts
6 Sections of Paper Draft (20 pts. ea) 120 pts
Final Paper 215 pts
Total =   635 pts

Your final grade will be determined by the total number of points you earn. The basis for letter grades is shown below:

A = at least 90% of 100, 572-635
B = at least 80% of 100, 508-571
C = at least 70% of 100, 444-507
D =   at least 60% of 100, 381-443  
F =      less than 60% of 100, 380 or less  

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