GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Final Essay Information


Final Essay and Components

During the semester, you will complete one final essay on a topic of your choosing. The topic should fit into the content we are covering in this course (Social Construction of Nature, Overpopulation and Scarcity, Commodity Chains, Food and Waste Consumption, Environmental Health, Environmental Justice, Resource Extraction, Conservation, or Climate Change). The final essay assignment will be divided into five components worth a total of 410 points toward your final grade.

For the final essay, you are asked to write a 3000-3500 word paper that documents a topic and proposes a resolution to a place-based problem/challenge surrounding human uses of the environment. The goal is for you to address a real-world issue using the skills you have learned and perspectives you have gained in the course. You will propose a topic, write smaller components throughout the semester, receive feedback from your classmates and instructor, and submit a final paper at the end of the course. The goal of submitting pieces of your final paper throughout the course is designed to give you feedback and ultimately help you write a stronger final paper. The paper will be due at the end of the course.

  1. Topic and Thesis Statement:
    In week 4, students will submit their chosen topic and thesis statement for instructor approval. The topic should be narrow (not something as broad as global climate change, for example, but perhaps some particular case study of climate change in a particular place).
  2. Annotated Bibliography:
    In week 7, students will submit an annotated bibliography that summarizes some of the literature they will be drawing on for the final paper (approx. 2-3 pages double spaced). The annotated bibliography should include at least 10 resources that the student intends on using in their final paper, and a 2-3 sentence summarization of each resource. Registered students can access an example annotated bibliography in the Lesson 6 module in Canvas.
  3. Outline:
    In week 10, students will submit an outline for their final essay which briefly summarizes the argument and information that will be covered in the final essay.
  4. Feedback to fellow classmates:
    In weeks 4, 7, and 10, students will submit all of the above components of the final essay to Canvas, and are required to provide feedback and suggestions to two of their peers. This way, students will receive detailed feedback from their classmates, as well as the instructor, leading to overall stronger essays at the end of the course.
  5. Final Essay:
    At the end of the course, students will submit a final essay that offers a complex analysis and discussion of their chosen topic. The final document should be between 3000-3500 words. It should be submitted in Microsoft Word format (.docx). The essay should be accompanied by a works cited page, and all sources should be referenced correctly throughout the essay. Since this is a research paper, students are expected to find outside, scholarly sources, beyond the readings assigned in this course.

Consider reading the Essay Tips page for a list of things to consider while drafting your essay.

The instructor will remind students of upcoming dates for submitting essay components throughout the course.

Points for the final project will be distributed as follows:

Points distribution for Final Essay
Activity Points
Topic/Thesis (Week 4) 50
Bibliography (Week 7) 50
Paper Outline (Week 10) 50
Providing Feedback to Classmates
  • Topic/Thesis
  • Bibliography
  • Outline
  • 20 points
  • 20 points
  • 20 points
Final Essay Due (Week 12) 200

Deliverable (due in week 4)

Begin thinking about your final essay topic and thesis statement (these will be due in Week 4) .

Before Wednesday of week 4, please submit your Final Essay Topic/Thesis Statement. Your assignment should be submitted as a Word document or PDF file. Check the calendar for specific due dates.

If your submission is late, you will NOT be assigned anyone to peer review and you will miss out on the 20 available peer review points. Also, no one will review your work, so please be on time.

Peer Reviews:
After the Tuesday night due date has passed for your initial Topic/Thesis Statement, please return to the Final Essay Component: Topic/Thesis Statement assignment page in the Week 4 module in Canvas and click on the "Peer Review" link to see who you have been assigned to peer review.