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Mitigation and Adaptation Studies

Course: IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466 (three credits)
Course title: Introduction to Mitigation and Adaptation Studies
Instructors: Dr. Hans-Peter Plag and Dr. Tatyana Lobova
Term: Fall 2016


I. Purpose

This project provides an opportunity to investigate a real-world issue of regional interest and its global impact and to apply the mitigation and adaptation concepts we have discussed in class to the kinds of issues you will be expected to understand as a professional, an informed citizen and voter. Working on the project will also allow you to develop and/or improve your skills in research, writing, oral communication, and working in a cooperative, group setting.

II. Content

You will be provided with a list of potential topics but you are encouraged to identify and propose your own topic. Only one student may work on each topic. Your job is to research the topic with the goal of developing options to address the problem in the context of mitigation and adaptation science. For that, you will present the following information, with appropriate attention to detail throughout and the appropriate bibliography.

  1. What is the nature and scope of the problem: What, exactly, is the issue? How widespread is the problem; how long has it been going on? What are the hazards that constitute a threat and what are the vulnerabilities of the system considered? You should include some hard data (numbers, etc.) here and give us a reason to care about it. Be realistic and precise.
  2. Why it happened: What was/were the causes that led to the system being exposed to threats? Here, you should explain how and why the problem arose (and/or is currently unfolding) and you should relate the causes to specific principles we’ve discussed in class. What foresight is there with respect to future challenges?
  3. Who are the stakeholders involved and impacted by the problem and how do they make decisions? You should consider that the problem is embedded in a societal framework with many stakeholders with potentially conflicting interests. The viability of any option proposed to improve the situation will depend on the decision making of these stakeholders, in particular those that can address the problem.
  4. What is the prognosis: What are the long-term consequences of the “no action” option? This is another area in which you should refer to general principles to help you explain what the small-scale (local) and large-scale (global) consequences of the problem might be. What potential remedies have already been suggested? Which remedies (if any) are being implemented? Are current efforts having the desired effects?
  5. What are options to address the problem: What are viable options to address the problem through mitigation of the causes, managing the impacts, and adapting to the changes. Be sure to address the practical advantages and disadvantages of competing options (remember that no problem is completely one-sided, and most realistic options are not going to be simple). Think about who the competing stakeholders might be and what they stand to gain/lose from each option. What options do you want to propose to the stakeholders?
III. Mechanics

Each student must use and cite at least 6 references for the project. These can be web-based or print, but be sure they’re legitimate. For most topics, you will be able to find good material from websites provided by government, conservation, and/or academic organizations. Be sure to evaluate the source of the information carefully; remember that anyone can put anything on the web, and that conservation organizations vary in their degree of balance and bias. All references must be cited in the written Bibliography that you submit on the day indicated in the Timeline. If you make any changes to the list you will need to resubmit a new bibliography as soon as possible. Failure to adhere to these guidelines will result in a reduction in the score.

IV. Timeline and Activities
  1. Class 5: Each student will select or propose a topic. Instructor will assign the final topics.
  2. Class 14: During this weeks you will need to do the research on the topic and find the best and most appropriate sources (websites and papers) that will have all the information to address the four questions. You have to use at least 6 sources. Make a list of the all sources, format it following the MLA guidelines posted on the BlackBoard, and submit it via email by Class 15.
  3. Class 15: Bibliography list should be submitted via email to both instructors. You will not get the points for the Bibliography but the failure to turn it in by the due date or the failure to submit it in a required state/format will result in a 5 penalty points.
  4. Class 21: Work on writing the draft of the paper.
  5. Class 22: Submit the draft of the paper before 11am via email. Please note: the draft does not mean something you put together at the last minute. It should be the best paper version you can produce. The draft will be corrected and edited and returned to you as soon as possible.
  6. Class 27, 28: Final presentations will be scheduled. Your paper and presentation is due on the day before class 27.

Except in extraordinary circumstances, you will receive NO credit for the presentation if you are not in class the day it should be presented.