Environment and Society in a Changing World

Written Assignment 5: Vulnerability Reduction


This Written Assignment entails two parts. First, you must do some research on the wildfires in California in recent years.  Second, you must  write  a clear, well-organized paper which answers the questions in Part II  of this assignment, while demonstrating that you have read the material in the modules.

First and foremost, we are grading your comprehension of the course material. If you do not demonstrate that you have read and understood the content from the modules, you will not receive a good grade. To get a good grade, you must show me that you have read and understood the content in the modules we have looked at so far.

Second, we are grading for critical thinking and analysis. How well do you form and support your arguments with evidence from the course material or external sources?

Third, we are grading for the mechanics - proper grammar, well-written paragraphs, answering all the questions, correct formatting of sources (if you use external sources, please use APA or Chicago Style to cite).

Written Assignment Instructions

In this assignment  you will build upon  concepts learned in Modules 8 and 9 by applying them to studying the "natural disaster" of wildfires in California. You may draw from relevant materials from the assigned readings, other modules, and additional outside sources.  The objective of this assignment is to increase your understanding of the relationship between vulnerability, natural hazards, and disasters, and to help you develop a more complex framework for understanding how natural disasters unfold. 

Part I: Do some research

Part II: Write a paper

Write a 500-750 word paper that answers the following questions:

  1. What does Smith mean when he states that there is "no such thing as a natural disaster"?
  2. Throughout the past few years, we have witnessed an increase in the occurrence, range, and severity of California wildfires. Using Smith’s reasoning regarding the classification of "natural" disasters as human-made occurrences, analyze the wildfires that have burned in California in recent years and determine the ways in which human (in)action has contributed to the severity of these disasters.
  3. How credible do you find Smith’s arguments? Is there really no such thing as a natural disaster?

You  must engage at least three course concepts  in your paper. Remember, engaging a course concept means defining that concept and explaining how it helps you think about the theme of your paper.  Please bold the concepts you engage in your paper.

Review the grading rubric before completing your assignment.