EM SC 240N
Energy and Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Final Project Description


Throughout the semester, you have critically analyzed a number of artifacts. Now it is your turn to propose an original artifact, namely, a movie. You (or your group) are a screenwriter, and you are planning to propose an original movie to the producer (me!). As budding sustainability experts well-versed in the art of rhetoric, you are perfectly suited to write a movie that appeals to a wide audience and has sustainability as a core theme. (Fortunately for you, your producer also understands sustainability and rhetoric, so can provide feedback on both counts.)  The movie can have any story, but must meet the following criteria:

  • This must be intended for a general audience. It does not have to be a blockbuster but must not require specialized knowledge in order to be understood.
  • It cannot be a documentary. 
  • The ability (or inability) of the earth to sustainably support life must be a central theme. It does not have to be the only theme or even the main theme, but it must play a prominent role in the movie.
  • It must be an original movie.

You have the option to complete this project individually, or in groups of up to 4 people. I have created a discussion board to help you find others to be in your group. Once you find group members, one person from the group needs to email me, and cc the others in the group. I strongly suggest that you work in groups

  • First (and probably foremost) you will receive 5% extra credit on the final draft of the Final Project for participating in a group.
  • Second, it is a good way to get to know others in the course
  • Third, it minimizes your work since all assignments are the same whether you work in a group or alone.
  • Finally, you get extra space (more pages) to write you story if you work in a group. 

For group communication, I have created a discussion board that is viewable only by your group members and me. Once you tell me who is in your group, you will be able to view the discussion board.

The Final Project must have the following components for full credit. This must be double-spaced, 12 pt font, and submitted on a Word document. If your submission is longer than the prescribed length, that element's score will be reduced by 50%: You must perform your own word count and indicate the number of words in each section.

  1. One paragraph (no more than 150 words) overview: This MUST be a single paragraph. It should summarize the movie plot and should be written in a way that “sells” the movie, both to the producer and to the general audience. Do NOT give away the ending of the movie. Give the audience just enough information to want to watch the whole movie.
  2. One paragraph (no more than 150 words) Include an analysis of why a general audience would want to see the movie. Keep in mind that a strong sustainability theme is not enough to have a wide appeal. That will only appeal to a certain segment of the population. 
  3. One paragraph (no more than 150 words) summary of the specific sustainability message of the movie. This must have the following elements:
    • It must address as a MAJOR theme the ability (or inability) of the planet to sustainably provide the resources necessary to support life on earth. The movie could be set in the future, present, and/or past. Describe exactly what message the movie will present in this regard.
    • A sense of why this is an important message. How is it relevant to the audience's real life?
    • Be specific!  E.g., do not just indicate that “it is about the negative effects of climate change.”  Be specific about the cause(s) and effect(s) of the sustainability issue, e.g., what social/political/economic situations lead to climate change not being addressed, and the specific impacts that will be portrayed, etc.
  4. 1-2 sentences each: Briefly describe each major character in the movie, e.g., important character traits. Do NOT give away the plot yet!
    • It can be fun to suggest actors/actresses for these roles! Feel free to do this, though it is not necessary.
  5. Up to 2 pages for an individual, up to 4 pages for a group: Write the “story” of the movie. Describe the plot and include all major events from start to finish.
    • Feel free to provide dialogue, but you do not need to provide it unless it is essential to the story.
    • You are welcome to provide storyboards, use images (make sure you provide the link to original image source if you do), and/or include pictures of your own.
  6. No more than 1 paragraph (less than 150 words) for each rhetorical strategy below. You can probably accomplish each in a sentence or two: You must include all of the following for full credit.
    • Describe the overall use of logos – how will you establish a logical argument?  Include why/how this establishes logos. Make it clear you understand what logos is.
    • Describe 1-2 specific scenes that have pathos.  Include why/how this establishes pathos. Make it clear you understand what pathos is.
    • How will you establish ethos?  Include why/how this will establish ethos. Make it clear you understand what ethos is. 
      • Important note: You must establish ethos with the audience. Since these are fictional movies, doing something like including a scientist in the movie will not accomplish this, because they know that the scientist is just someone playing a character. Using scientifically accurate (or seemingly accurate) language may accomplish this, though, as can a number of other things.
  7. Up to 1 paragraph (150 words or less) for each bullet below: Scientific basis.
    • Include one quality source of information that you will use as reference material for the scientific basis of the movie. Summarize the relevant contentt, and indicate which part of the movie it will be used for. Find a specific article, website, book, etc., and indicate how it supports what you are writing. Cite your source.
    • Evaluate the validity of the source you use using the techniques you have learned in this course (source(s) used, author's credentials, objectivity, evaluation of the site in general, etc.).
  8. Up to 1 paragraph (less than 150 words): Describe how the movie will be effective at delivering the sustainability message, considering the rhetorical devices, plot, characters, etc. How will you convince the audience that the sustainability issue is important?

Note that you will also be graded on overall clarity and organization. The descriptions of each component must have a good flow and quality description. See rubrics for full grading description.

You must submit this via a Microsoft Word document. One submission will be provided per group.