The Ecotopia Project consists of two phases, (I) a group presentation, and (II) an individual research paper.
I. Group Presentation
In the group presentation, students will collaborate to create an ecologically sustainable society. The instructor will randomly place students into groups named after the six major biomes:
1. Temperate Deciduous Forest
2. Temperate Grassland
3. Northern Coniferous Forest
4. Tropical Rain Forest
5. Tropical Grassland
Each group will create a PowerPoint presentation to be shared with the class. Groups should think of a creative name for their society (for example “Green Paradise”). Each participant should prepare at least two slides for each responsibility (“secretariat/cabinet position”) in their portfolio (group of cabinet responsibilities). Each group should begin their presentation with a brief description of their biome. The presentation should include some collaborative slides that explain overall themes and ideas, in addition to the slides created by each member to cover their particular cabinet responsibilities. The presentation should also include introductory and concluding slides.
Individual group members will be responsible for several aspects of creating their sustainable society within the biome—their portfolio. (For the second part of the project, each individual will write a research paper on their portfolio of responsibilities.) Since everything in nature and the environment is connected to everything else, each individual will need to coordinate and negotiate the details of how the entire sustainable society will be created. For example, the geography, ecology, and weather conditions of the biome will determine which sustainable forms of renewable energy should be used in that society. The type of energy used will determine waste and ecological protections necessary. For example, if you use nuclear energy, then you will have to figure out how to deal with radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years! Moreover, your agricultural, fishery, and livestock decisions will impact your land use planning, waste recycling, food supply, and ocean ecosystem health, and your policies regarding global climate change will impact environmental security.
Ecotopia cabinet positions (responsibilities): Students are responsible for their portfolios and coordinating with other members of their teams to make sustainable decisions in their biome. There will be overlapping responsibilities and concerns. You can form ad hoc task forces to negotiate sustainable solutions.
Equally divide up the following cabinet positions into portfolios. Each student will have several cabinet positions in their portfolios. Negotiate within your group for your choices of positions. All cabinet positions must be filled:
1. Secretary of Sustainable Energy
2. Recycling Czar (waste, toxic waste, nuclear waste, environmental hazards)
3. Secretary of Sustainable Agriculture and Humane Livestock Policy Czar (food, soil, pest management, livestock)
4. Secretary of Sustainable Transportation
5. Secretary of Aquatic Sustainability and Water Czar (oceans, lakes and rivers, fisheries, aquaculture, sewage)
6. Secretary of Sustainable Forestry, Parks and Recreation
7. Secretary of Mineral Sustainability
8. Secretary of Sustainable Economic Policy
9. Secretary of Sustainable Industrial and Business Policy
10. Sustainable Tax and Revenue Policy Czar
11. Secretary of Environmental Protection and Chair of Environmental Ethics Advisory Board
12. Clean Air Czar
13. Secretary of Sustainable Cities (urban planning, building codes, zoning)
14. Secretary of Biodiversity and Natural Capital
15. Population Policy Czar
16. Global Climate Change Czar
17. Environmental Politics Advisor
18. Secretary of Sustainable Trade
19. Secretary of Environmental Security (considers the effects of potential environmental degradation on global geopolitics, water scarcities, environmental refugees, potential armed conflict over scarce resources)
20. Chair of Seventh Generation Protectorate (considers effects of decisions on future generations)
Group discussion boards: The instructor will assign students to groups during the first week of class. In the Course Home menu, a discussion board has been created for each group that only the members of that group (and the instructor) can access. Group members can use this discussion board to communicate and share files, although a collaboration tool such as Google Docs may also be beneficial. Group members should exchange contact info and establish how they will communicate with each other as soon as possible.
II. Individual Research Paper
Each student will write a paper covering their portfolio of responsibilities for their Ecotopia group. The paper should include several diagrams.
If you include phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that did not come straight from your own mind, then you must enclose them in quotation marks and add a footnote/endnote. If you fail to do so, you are committing, a serious violation of the Saint Leo Honor Code. If you put the ideas of your sources into your own plagiarism1 words you still must use footnotes/endnotes to give credit to the author(s) of the ideas. Do not cut and paste from the Internet without properly citing your source. Without quotation marks and footnotes/endnotes, you have plagiarised.
Module 1: Begin communicating with group members to determine team responsibilities
Module 2: Submit progress reports for both project phases to receive peer and/or instructor feedback
Module 3: Submit both project phases per the instructions below:
- Group presentation: Each student should attach a copy of his/her group presentation to a post in the Ecotopia Discussion board in Module 8.
- Individual research paper: Each student should submit to the Dropbox.
Module 8: Provide feedback on group presentations. Instructions for this are included in Module 8.