EM SC 240N
Energy and Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Lesson 7: Critical Analysis of a Book, Part I



Welcome to Module 3, and congratulations on successfully completing Module 2!  I hope you enjoyed applying your energy, sustainability, and critical analysis skills to the media selections from the last lesson.

In this lesson, you will begin reading the first of the two main artifacts that you will be analyzing this semester.

For this lesson, you have the choice of analyzing one of the following books. In your Lesson 6 journal post, you chose which one to analyze. You must analyze the book that you chose, unless you get approval from the instructor:

  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert, or
  • Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert

I want you to think critically about the book as you read it, especially with regards to how the content relates to sustainability (all 3 E's) and the ability of humans to live within the ecological limits of the planet. It is important that you think as objectively as possible, trying to see past preconceived ideas, and consider the science behind the writing. It is important that you look at the specifics of your self-reflection paper in Module 9 before you begin reading the book, because it will indicate key pieces of information to focus on.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • recall key facts/themes from the reading;
  • critically analyze claims made in the book; and
  • analyze the evolution of your own thinking with regards to key energy and sustainability issues related to the book.

Required Reading/Viewing

  • Chapters 1 - 6 of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (124 pages) OR
  • The first 3 chapters of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, (through the second part of "Into the Wild") (90 pages)

Note that per the syllabus, you are responsible for finding your own copy of the book. You are welcome to use any legitimate version, including e-books.

What is due this week?

You have two assignments this week. You must analyze one thing that is presented as fact that you found surprising and/or challenging, and analyzing it. As always, I suggest reading through the assignment and rubric to see how you will be graded.

You will see that there is also one quiz for those who read The Sixth Extinction, and one for those who read Under a White Sky. Please only take the quiz for the book that you are reading

Please note that the quiz can only be taken once. This quiz is timed - you have exactly 1 hour to complete it once you begin. You cannot stop and save - it must be completed in one sitting. Once you submit the quiz, you cannot change answers. All saved answers will automatically be submitted at the deadline if you have not submitted them. The test is not meant to be "tricky," or even to dig deeply into the material. It will consist of two components: First, a review of key concepts from Lessons 1 and 2. Second, it will cover major facts and/or themes from the reading. Again, these questions will be relatively straightforward. There will be no essay questions.

I strongly encourage you to look over at least the "Language of Energy and Sustainability" term list at the end of Lessons 1 and 2 to prepare for this week's quiz. I'm happy to help you review.

Lesson 8 Checklist
Requirement Submission Location
Lesson 7 Quiz Canvas - Modules tab > Lesson 7
Lesson 7 Analysis Canvas - Modules tab > Lesson 7


If you have any general course questions or questions about this lesson's content, please post them to our HAVE A QUESTION? discussion forum located under the Modules tab. I will check that discussion forum regularly to respond as appropriate. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses and comments if you are able to help out a classmate. If you have a question but would like to remain anonymous to the other students, email me through Canvas Inbox.

If you have something related to the material that you'd like to share, feel free to post to the Coffee Shop forum, also under the Modules tab.