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I. Overview and Objectives

Choose a social movement that interests you and examine its relationship to environmentalism. This could be a social justice movement (feminists, labor unions, anti-racist organizers, global justice activists), a group driven by a particular political ideology (libertarianism, neo-conservatism, anarchism, etc.); or one grounded in a religion (evangelical Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.). There are lots of possibilities here.
There are two goals of the project: First, you will gain an understanding of how the social movement that you’ve chosen thinks about sustainability, and how a specific organization within that movement has attempted to realize its particular vision of a sustainable future. Second, you will improve your critical writing and thinking skills by producing a polished, 10-12 page research paper.

II. Structure
The paper will be structured in four parts:
a. Introduction (1-2 pages)
In a paper of this length, your introduction should really only be 2-3 paragraphs. This
section should introduce the social movement and organization that you’ve chosen to analyze, and should tell the reader why this movement/organization matters. Your intro should contain a thesis statement, followed by a roadmap that describes for the reader how you’ll proceed.
Examples of thesis statements:
“This paper will use the organization, the Cato Institute, to explore how libertarians think about sustainability.

“In my paper, I will employ the group, the AFL-CIO, to consider how labor unions have worked to achieve sustainability.
Examples of roadmaps:
“In order to do so, I will proceed in three parts: first, I will review the scholarly literature on the relationship between libertarianism and environmentalism; second, I will analyze how the Cato Institute conceptualizes and works to bring about sustainability; and finally, I will conclude by offering my opinion on whether or not their vision of sustainability is accurate.”
“My analysis will be divided into three sections. The first section provides a
literature review of relevant work on the relationship between labor unions and environmentalists. The second section builds on the first in considering what.

AFL-CIO can tell us about labor’s vision of sustainability. The third section offers my concluding thoughts.”

b. Literature Review (4-5 pgs.)
This section will review the scholarly literature on your topic. So, for instance, if you’ve chosen to analyze a labor union, you will explore what scholars have to say about the relationship between labor unions and environmentalists/sustainability. If you’ve chosen to study a conservative group, you will explore the literature on the relationship between conservatism and environmentalism. If you are unclear on how to write a literature review, please read the article that I’ve posted (Knopf, “Doing a Lit Review”).

There is one crucial thing to remember here: I am not looking for summaries of what various author’s say; I’m looking for syntheses. You should be identifying major themes in the literature, and sources of debate or agreement. I already know that you all are smart enough to summarize what an author said. That is easy. It is your job to impose an intellectual order on the material. I realize that this is much more difficult – but it’s also a crucial part of critical thought.
Example of what not to do:

In an article titled, “Environmentalists and Labor,” Johnson says _____ (goes on for a page). Then, in an article called, “Labor and Sustainability” Smith says ______ (goes on for a page). Then, in a book called, Jobs versus the Environment, Rodriguez says ____ (goes on for a page).
Example of what to do:

In reviewing the literature exploring the relationship between labor and environmentalism, three key themes emerge: class differences between the two movements; racial differences between the movements; and the struggle to balance the need for jobs with the need to protect the environment. I will now discuss how a variety of authors approach these themes.
(You can then bring the insights offered by the authors into each of your discussions, but you do not simply summarize their whole chapter or article)

c. Analysis of Organization (4-5 pgs.)
You will choose one organization that represents the movement you’ve selected, and explore how it tries to make connections between its core political commitments and environmentalism. So, if you’ve chosen to focus on the relationship between business and the environment, you might study the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. If you’ve chose to study the global justice movement, you might focus on the World Social Forum. Be sure to bring in evidence (e.g. quotes from the group’s website or publications) to support your findings. Here are a few questions to help guide your analysis:

  • When did the group emerge? What is their stated goal?
  • When did the group begin to incorporate environmental goals? Why?
  • What is sustainability, according to the group? Do they tend to emphasize one pillar (i.e. economic, social or environmental) over the others? Or do they balance the three?
  • What is nature for the group? Do they emphasize wilderness or urban air pollution? Protection of animals or public health? Is there an area of environmental protection that they dedicate most of their effort to?
  • How do they connect their environmental concerns to social issues (e.g. economic equality, economic growth, national security, cultural identity, etc.)
  • Who is included in the group? Who are members? Are its members representative of the broader public or do they come from particular races, classes or genders?
  • Who are they trying to build alliances with? (e.g. business, environmentalists, labor, immigrants, indigenous populations, etc.)
  • What types of policy goals does the group support? In your estimation, do these goals further or undermine efforts to achieve sustainability?

d. Conclusion (1-2 pgs.)
What does your analysis tell us about the relationship between your chosen movement and sustainability? Does it reinforce or challenge what the scholarly literature says? Does it reveal any gaps in the literature? Does it point to any areas that need further research? What is your opinion on how the group that you’ve studied thinks about and works to achieve sustainability?

III. Nuts and Bolts
The project is worth 20% of your total grade. Do not wait until the last minute to get started!
Your final product should be 10-12 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font, 1 inch
margins. You will be docked if the paper is significantly longer or shorter than this range.
For this paper you are required to use at least 10 total sources – 7 of these must be academic sources. Up to 2 of these sources can be book chapters or articles that we’ve used in class.
Please include a title page with your name, date and some sort of creative title.
Any plagiarism will result in both an F on the paper and an F in the class. If you are unsure of what constitutes plagiarism, ask me or consult the university’s academic integrity policy:
In the next couple weeks, I’d encourage you to shoot me an email or to set up a time to meet on skype to go over your idea and make sure you’re on the right track.
The paper is due Tuesday, August 4th. It must be emailed to me ( by the end of the day.
Late papers will be penalized one letter grade per day. I cannot accept any late papers turned in after Thursday of finals week.

IV. Grading

A 18-20 Analyzes the organization and examines the movement in a manner that is
clear, accurate and consistent. Demonstrates an excellent grasp of the concepts and theories that have been discussed in class. The paper flows nicely from section to section; it is well-written and contains few, if any, grammatical errors.

B 16-17 Makes a strong effort to describe the organization and movement’s approach to sustainability, although there may be a few over- simplifications or areas of misunderstanding. Has obviously put significant effort into the paper, and has addressed all the components. There are some grammatical errors, but they do not detract from the overall argument.

C 14-15 Shows some effort to describe the organization/movement, although
certain aspects might be glossed over or poorly explained. Makes a real attempt to understand how the organization/movement conceptualizes sustainability, although there are some errors and omissions. Has at least made an attempt to cover all four parts of the assignment. Significant grammatical errors, but they do not make deciphering the author’s points impossible.

D 12-13 Shows little effort and little understanding of the concepts discussed in
class, and of the organization/movement. The paper is too short, lacks structure, or simply did not follow the guidelines of the assignment. Major grammatical errors that make interpretation impossible.

F 0-11 Simply turned in a paper for the sake of turning something in. Shows little
to no effort, is illegible, or is plagiarized.
Remember, I am here to help you succeed! I am happy to read over and give feedback on early
drafts (but these must be sent to me at least a week before the due date in order to give me ample time to respond). I also encourage those of you who struggle with grammar (and are in Flagstaff) to bring a draft to the Writing Center. Proofreading is key here – the quality of writing really matters on a research paper (much more so than on your weekly discussions).

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