So, first of all, you all did an amazing job on your list-building from last week, so you should have a good jumping-off point for this assignment. The goal here is to help you narrow down your ideas even further, look a little more deeply at the contexts surrounding specific issues (including legal, financial, political, historical, and environmental contexts), and get a little experience trying out the search strategies covered in the library modules (so, yes, you will need to be able to log in to the VPN and access the library’s databases).
If at any point you get stuck, go back and watch the screencast for a good, specific example of this same basic idea, and/or go back through the Library videos for more help. As always, feel free to come by office hours or send me an email, too, if you have a question that can’t be answered through the materials on the Modules.
To begin, start a free Coggle account here (Links to an external site.), or use whichever brainstorming tool you prefer (paper and pen is also totally fine, as long as you can take & upload a picture of that work later). Then, begin a new Diagram/ Mind Map–you will use this to help you brainstorm.
Choose a topic related to Food Systems and the Environment, and make it the central point on your diagram. This might be something that you came up with last week, a spin-off of an idea that one of your peers had, or a new idea altogether. Either way, it should be a topic that you’re genuinely interested to know more about. Summarize it briefly in the central point–“Antibiotics in Fish Farms,” for example.
From that central point, create several branches by using facts, questions, vocabulary words you find (or found) in your searches. There are no right or wrong answers yet–jot down anything that comes to mind, and extend each branch as far as possible, doing preliminary research as necessary to fill in your information gaps, find new possible directions for research, and/or illuminate issues that you were not already aware existed.
This is important: In the process of doing preliminary research, you should use the Library’s databases to find at least TWO potential sources of information for your topic. You will add a Works Cited page to the materials you turn in for this assignment, so make sure you download or otherwise save the articles you find! Add all of the useful information from those sources to your brainstorm, too (and leave yourself page numbers/other notes so you can find that information later, if you need it!)
Here’s a far-from-complete example of my own, just to give you an idea of what it might look like when you’re done. I encourage you to think outside of this, push deeper into your different branches, and begin and end in different places than I have:
When you are finished, you will notice that, though you started with a seemingly narrow enough topic, there are several different directions that you could go in from here. Choose THREE of these potential topics, making sure that they could all be feasibly connected back to the ecological impacts of the particular issue. For example, “The impacts of aquaculture-related antibiotics on native species in the Atlantic Ocean” is pretty obviously connected to the environment, but “The lack of transparency in labeling for consumers” could be connected if there’s a way to show that, for instance, better and clearer information would change our behavior, leading to fewer antibiotics because of demand.
Write these into your Discussion post, explaining, as applicable:
… the specific topics/issues, and any interesting information you’ve learned about them
… the relevant geographic regions (and how geography/available resources, etc. play into the issue).
… potential stakeholders (i.e., those who have a vested interest in, or are impacted by, the issue that you have defined)
… the historical scope (i.e., what important developments have happened in the timeline of this issue?)
… any other key contexts (e.g., law, economics, politics, etc.)
In addition, briefly explain which of these three potential topics seems most promising and/or most interesting to you at this stage. Include any questions or concerns that you have–treat this as a Reddit-like open forum, because it is!
What you will post:
- Your Coggle map (or an image/photo of the clustering you did elsewhere);
- a clear explanation of your three potential topics;
- a Works Cited listing for the two library sources you found;
- questions and concerns.
To post, click “Reply” below.
When you have finished, please respond to at least ONE of your peers in depth. Answer their questions, address their concerns, and respond to their own sense of the topics. If you have an idea, or if you think that one of the topics on their list seems even better suited for research than the one they’re leaning towards, let them know. If YOU have questions or concerns that you think your peer should consider at this stage, let them know that, too.
Responses should be lengthy and thoughtful–at least 300+ words.
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