GESC 398 Discussions Description and Topics Fall 2021 Objectives: • Discussions will help students demonstrate their ability to communicate environmental science in an oral or written format. • Discussions will give students an opportunity to integrate and apply what they have learned in lectures and readings with other scientific literature and popular media to analyze current and relevant topics in parks and protected areas management. • Discussions will give students an opportunity to practice research skills. Description: There will be five class discussions held throughout the term (Weeks 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10). There will be both a synchronous and asynchronous discussion option. • Synchronous Option: Students will be split into groups and assigned a 45 minute timeslot (during class hours Tuesday or Thursday between 8:30am-9:50am of the above weeks) to participate in an online Zoom verbal discussion of the assigned question or topic with their peers and instructor. Students are expected to come to the Zoom meeting prepared to critically discuss the assigned topic or question. Student discussion should go beyond restating what is said in scientific and news articles and instead demonstrate an ability to assess literature and integrate related concepts. • Asynchronous Option: Students will be split into groups and assigned a discussion board forum on MyLearningSpace to participate in a written discussion of the assigned question or topic with their peers and instructor. Students choosing this option will be expected to provide a meaningful answer or post to the initial question or topic and an additional meaningful reply to their peers by the end of the week (corresponding Sunday at 11:59pm). The idea is that answers and replies will keep the discussion moving forward, as would occur in an in-person discussion, and not just repeat the same answers and information. Therefore, students need to ensure they have read their assigned discussion forum before they post to make sure what they post is a useful contribution to the overall conversation. Student discussion should go beyond restating what is said in scientific and news articles and instead demonstrate an ability to assess literature and integrate related concepts. During the first week of classes as part of Quiz #1 (Due Sunday September 12 by 11:59pm) students will decide whether they will be participating in the discussion component of this course asynchronously or synchronously. Based on these responses, students will be assigned their discussion group during Week 2. Students who do not complete Quiz #1 will be automatically assigned an asynchronous discussion group. The discussion component of GESC 398 is worth 30% of your final mark (6% for each discussion). Please see discussion rubric for how marks will be earned. Topics: Discussion #1 – Week 3: Parks and COVID-19 • COVID-19 has brought about many changes to our lives over the past 18 months. Many national, provincial and municipal parks have either prohibited or restricted visitor access at points to meet their respective government guidelines for shutdowns or allow for increased physical distancing. Consequently, there have been reports of huge increases in backcountry camping. Using the knowledge you have gained so far in this course, conduct research into this topic (the two media articles given below are a good starting point). • What risk does this pose for environmental protection? What challenges do you think large increases of backcountry camping might pose for nearby conservation managers? Do you think there are any benefits to this increase? • Quan and Boyd. 2020. COVID-19 stopped travel and spurred Canadians to get outside or go camping instead. Some of them have left a real mess. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/08/29/covid-19-spurred-canadians-toexplore-their-country-some-have-left-a-real-mess.html • Weber. 2020. ‘Insane’: Campers cutting trees, strewing garbage and trespassing in Alberta’s backcountry, officials say. https://nationalpost.com/news/insane-reportdetails-random-camping-stresses-on-alberta-wilderness • Synchronous sessions: September 21 and 23 • Asynchronous posts and responses due by September 26 11:59pm Discussion #2 – Week 5: Park Visitation • Visitors to Canada’s National Parks had been slowly increasing over the last decade until it peaked in 2017. Using the knowledge you have gained so far in this course, conduct research into this topic (this week’s assigned and recommended readings are a good starting point). • Should Parks Canada actively try to increase visitor numbers? Why or why not? If yes, how should Parks Canada attempt to do so? If no, how should Parks Canada discourage over-use of parks? • Synchronous sessions: October 5 and October 7 • Asynchronous posts and responses due by October 10 11:59pm Discussion #3 – Week 6: Challenges and Threats to Wood Buffalo National Park • The Peace-Athabasca Delta is a dynamic floodplain landscape that provides many important ecosystem services and is home to Wood Buffalo National Park. It has been subject to a great deal of controversy over the past ~20 years with a large amount of debate in the media and scientific literature on the cause of decreased flood frequency and lower lake water levels in the surrounding delta. The debate centers on whether the industry (WAC Bennet Dam upstream on the Peace River which has been in operation since 1967) or long-term climate variability is the culprit of the lower water levels. Using the knowledge you have gained so far in this course, conduct research into this topic • • • (the two media articles given below and the required weekly reading Wolfe et al. 2020 are good starting points). What are the implications to Wood Buffalo National Park management if industry is to blame? If climate is to blame? Is there adequate research to make a conclusion either way or is further research necessary? Why do you think this topic has been debated for so long? o Weber. 2018. Environmental Deterioration at Wood Buffalo National Park is widespread, federal study finds. The Canadian Press. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-environmental-deteriorationat-wood-buffalo-national-park-is/ o Weber. 2018. Climate change, not industry to blame for UNESCO site’s decline: Scientists. The Canadian Press. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/08/15/climate-change-notindustry-to-blame-for-unesco-sites-decline-scientists.html o Week 6 assigned readings Synchronous sessions: October 19 and October 21 Asynchronous posts and responses due by October 24 11:59pm Discussion #4 – Week 7: Differing Stakeholder Perspective • Taking the perspective of a parks and protected area stakeholder other than a park manager or conservation biologist (e.g., government official, Indigenous group, local community member, resource developer, tourism operator, etc.), discuss the disadvantages of parks and protected areas. • Use the knowledge you have gained so far in this course to conduct research into this topic. • Synchronous sessions: October 26 and October 28 • Asynchronous posts and responses due by October 31 11:59pm Discussion #5 – Week 10: Monitoring Programs • Park managers need to be able to monitor the ecological integrity status of the park ecosystems efficiently and effectively. What constitutes a good monitoring program? Do you think outside stakeholders (e.g., local communities) should participate in the development and running of monitoring programs? • Use the knowledge you have gained so far in this course to conduct research into this topic. • Synchronous sessions: November 16 and November 18 • Asynchronous posts and responses due by November 21 11:59pm Reminders and Tips • Please check out the links below for tips on how to ensure meaningful and respectful participation and contribution to online discussions o https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teachingresources/teaching-tips/developing-assignments/blended-learning/onlinediscussions-tips-students o https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teachingresources/teaching-tips/teaching-tips-learning-activities/student-guidelinescommunicating-online-professional GESC 398 Discussions Rubric Fall 2021 (30% of Final Mark, 6% for each discussion) Marking Rubric: The assignment will be marked out of 12 based on the below criteria. Criteria Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1 Attendance (4 points) Student attends Zoom discussion. or Student contributes both a post and a response to the discussion board. It is apparent that the student is well-organized, well-prepared and has read relevant articles and related materials. Student participates in a meaningful way in either the Zoom discussion or MyLearningSpace discussion forum. Student provides well thought out points which effectively adds to the class discussion. Student is respectful of other students and their viewpoints. It was evident that the student researched the discussion topic sufficiently. Student provided an integrated and critical analysis of the topic. Meets most requirements for Level 4 Meets some requirements for Level 4 Meets few to no requirements for Level 4 Meets most requirements for Level 4 Meets some requirements for Level 4 Meets few to no requirements for Level 4 Meets most requirements for Level 4 Meets some requirements for Level 4 Meets few to no requirements for Level 4 Participation and Communication (
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