ENVIRON 210D: Conserving the Variety of Life on Earth

Reader requirements: legislative experience, local, state, fed; congress, staffers, NGO presenting testimony, etc.

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Stuart Pimm

An overview of biological diversity, its patterns, and the current extinction crisis. Historical and theoretical foundations of conservation, from human values and law to criteria and frameworks for setting conservation priorities; island biogeography theory, landscape ecology, and socioeconomic considerations in reserve design; management of endangered species in the wild and in captivity; managing protected areas for long term viability of populations; the role of the landscape matrix around protected areas; and techniques for conserving biological diversity in semi-wild productive ecosystems such as forests.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Congressional Testimony
For whom? Members of Congress, Government officials, staffers, etc.
Where would such writing typically be found? Congressional Hearings
Why would someone usually read it? To get a scientifically informed perspective on a pending bill that may impact the survival of particular species or ecosystems.

Examples of Readers


Student – Reader Interactions

No later than October 22 Introductory Meeting. Student should orient reader to format and goal of the assignment.

Early November – Student sends reader draft of written testimony and meets with reader real time (via in person/phone/webcam) for feedback on draft.

Mid-November – Student records draft video of testimony, and shares with reader via email or link.

  • Within a week of receiving link to video – Students and readers meet in real time (via in person/phone/webcam for feedback on video.

Late November – Students review reader feedback and make revisions. Optional additional meeting at discretion of student and reader

Dec ()– Final Video Testimonies due to Prof. Pimm and to readers

* – Students: The earlier you submit the draft the more time you will have to revise and perhaps get feedback from your reader in time to turn in to the professor.


Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More

Instructor’s response suggestions:

Focus on the effectiveness of the testimony.

  • Where are the ideas coming across clearly and where are they muddled?
  • What gaps are there in the argument?