ENVIRON 214S: Ethical Challenges in Environmental Conservation

Readers requirements: Anyone with professional experience in environmental science or environmental-related policy.

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information:

Instructor: Prof. Rebecca Vidra

Examination of current ethical challenges in environmental conservation. Topics include the philosophical basis and challenges of mankind’s responsibility to the natural world; prioritization of often conflicting conservation efforts; balancing the needs of humans and the environment; the disputed role of scientists as advocates; and the philosophical and political obstacles to conservation efforts. Analysis of the evolving environmental movement, in relation to current issues.

Student Writing Assignment:

What are students writing?

For essay #2, students will delve into the ethical dimensions of an environmental issue of their choice. This is an argumentative essay, for which they will draw from the academic literature, primarily, and our key text, Rambunctious Garden. Students will write a 5-6 page paper but also lead a short discussion in class (20 minutes), so they will need to assign appropriate readings to their peers and facilitate a discussion that focuses on the ethics. The written essay will be written as a perspectives/opinion piece for a popular academic conservation journal, such as Frontiers in Ecology and Environment or Conservation Biology.


Here are the deadlines for students and readers as they pertain to the Reader Project:

Assignment #2 (Mtg 1): Schedule btwn February 1-13. This will be students first meeting with readers. The idea is due by February 10 but the actual essay is not due until March 8. I would encourage students to have 2 meetings with the reader between now and March 8, perhaps one to discuss the idea for the assignment and another to discuss a draft.

Assignment #3 (Mtg 3): Working with your reader on this assignment is OPTIONAL. The third assignment will happen after Spring Break. Students should alert readers of their interest in continuing to work with them by March 8.


Syllabus (this is a working syllabus – NOT the final):

ENV 214_820 Syllabus

Giving Feedback (general information that will apply to most courses):

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