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In the inclusive spirit of the Environmental Studies program, in this second written piece for our course I aim to engage majors from all departments in applying what you know best toward solving the crises of infectious disease emanating from global change. Your assignment is to submit a succinct proposal for a project that would address the need to solve a problem relating to global change and infectious disease. The length is 2 pages double-spaced at 12 font, plus references. I hope that for some of you who are non-senior ENVS majors, the piece you outline here may be the first step toward your capstone project.
The general format is the following:
1) Identify a problem relating to global change and infectious disease, and state the urgency of the problem. This might be the only part of your paper that deals explicitly with the biology of infectious disease in a changing world, and I’d like you to be sure that there is significant biological content. You should state what the problem is, and if known, how much worse the problem may become in the future, and argue that the problem really needs solving.
2) You should lay out, in as much detail as possible, a proposal for a project that would address the problem you’re addressing.
a) If this is an art project (broadly defined to include performance arts, film, visual arts, and fiction or poetry, and pretty much anything else within the humanities and arts), you should outline the project (e.g., the plot outline for a short story, an overview of a sculpture, and so on). You should then explain how you expect the various parts of your project as well as the whole of the project to persuade public opinion on the issue you are addressing.
b) An alternative possibility is to propose a policy change that would address the problem you’ve identified. You should argue why your proposed policy change would solve the problem, and you should make a case for why your policy change would be politically tenable.
c) Alternatively, you may propose a research project that addresses the efficacy of different policy or behavioral approaches toward solving the problem you’ve identified. You should give enough
detail outlining your project so we have a sense of what experiments or analyses you’re proposing to do, and you should be sure to explain how you would interpret different kinds of results.
d) Finally, you may propose a research project in the natural sciences that addresses the problem you’ve identified. As with the social science research project above, you should outline enough details so we have a sense of what you’re proposing to do, and you should be sure to explain how you would interpret different kinds of results.
I should add that you might be encouraged by an article by Andrew Hoffman (Hoffman 2012) on how debates on climate science have become a culture war, and that approaches to solving climate problems must go beyond the natural sciences to also engage social scientists (and I would add artists). He suggests how those who are persuaded by the consensus of climate scientists can most productively engage in discussions with others who are not so persuaded.
Hoffman, A. J. 2012. Climate science as culture war. Pages 30-37 Stanford Social Innovation Review. Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Stanford.