HONR 238W Assignments
Please turn in two copies of all homeworks and reading responses: i)
a hardcopy and ii) a PDF attachment to my email address with "HONR"
in the subject line. I will return the hardcopy to you with comments
and will keep the electronic copies as a record of your responses.
Each week, except as noted in the lecture schedule, there will be a
reading assignment. Before the relevant class, please read the
selections from our textbooks as well as any supplementary websites
listed on the HONR238W homepage. Follow up on one of the topics raised
by the assigned reading that interests you and research it using one
additional online source. Write one single-spaced typed page on
your reaction to the assigned reading. A good essay will include a
concise description of the topic covered, and your reaction to
it. Your reaction should be critical (though not necessarily negative)
and may be emotional (do you find the idea compelling? stupid?), but
must be well argued and must include your thoughts instead of just
being a summary of the reading. In one paragraph, indicate a webpage
not listed on the reading that is on the topic, and your response to
it. You are free, for example, to pick a crackpot site and refute it.
Numerical Calculations: For approximate
calculations, you do not need to report all digits that the calculator
shows! Be guided by how well you know the inputs to a calculation. For
instance, if a car gets about 26 miles per gallon of gas based on how
it is driven, reporting extra digits (e.g. 26.294721) is meaningless
and too precise.
Most importantly, show intermediate steps in any computational
problems to indicate that you know what is going on. If you get a
problem wrong, this provides an opportunity for partial credit.
Solutions for Quantitative Problems.
Early in the semester, three or four of you will join each of the
following task forces and together will work to learn more about one
of the following topics:
Later in the semester, your task force will divide its topic into
logical and roughly equally-sized subtopics, one of which you will
take charge of. Try to choose subtopics in a logical way such that
your task force covers the entire topic.
- Oil and Natural Gas
You each will ultimately write a 10 page double-spaced paper on your
subtopic which is due near the end of the semester
(Due date TBD).
Try to write at a level that can be understood by non-experts (that
means define any terms that you did not know before taking this class).
Things to consider include historical summaries of each energy source
as well as estimates of global resources, costs, possibilities for
future development, etc. Discuss the pros and cons of current standard
practices. Include what has been tried in the US and abroad, current
policies, as well as possible future directions. Try to make some of
the hard calls - should use of your chosen energy source be expanded
or contracted? Should we let the market make all of the decisions? How
large a role should the government play in guiding energy policy in
the US? Should we use tax money or other incentives to
encourage/discourage use of your energy source? If so, a how much?
Undertake your research by finding multiple sources that discuss your
topic (magazine articles, newspaper articles, web postings, etc.). Try
to fully understand your topic and summarize it in your paper, citing
your sources as appropriate. If you have questions about the
appropriateness of a particular topic, please feel free to ask me.
Task Force Presentation
Your task force presentations should be a thorough summary of your
papers. The presentation should take about seven minutes per group
member, with three minutes for questions. Questions can come after
each individual talk or at the end of the full presentation. Your goal
as a group is to cover your topic as clearly and completely as
possible, both in this presentation and in individual written
papers. Be honest about the advantages and disadvantages of the
different energy sources, technologies, and policies. Each Task Force
presentation should make recommendations for the future. Please try
to divide up the work evenly so that each contributor presents his or
her fair share of the material. Turn in original and PDF copies of
your presentation before class so that they can all be presented from
my computer. Your goal as an audience is to ask key questions to help
you understand the material, some of which may appear on the final
We will have five formal debates during the class and I will inform
you of the debate topic about two weeks in advance. As you will
have prior knowledge of the topic, I will expect you to prepare in
advance. The debate structure will follow the outline below.
I will allocate times for you to discuss collectively the major points
for and against the proposition. The role of your group and your role
within the group will be determined by random drawing. For example, in
the first debate, one group will argue that pesticides like DDT should
be regulated by the government, one group will argue that they should
not, and the two remaining groups will judge. Unlike in competitive
debates, we are not looking for rapid presentation of many points, but
rather a clear presentation of the key points. Each side begins with
an opening argument and then responds to the other side with a
rubuttal. After the debate, each of the judging groups confers
separately, and then each individual judge decides who he or she
thinks won the debate. A judge's should select as winner the group
that he or she feels presented their side best, and not
necessarily the group whose arguments he or she agrees with. I will
poll the judges individually for their statements and votes. With five
debates, and three participants on each side, we will arrange things
so that all students take on at least one and no more than two
speaking roles in the debates. These count toward your participation
score. The debates will take place roughly every two weeks on dates
noted in the lecture schedule.
- Divide into four groups of 3-4 students.
- Group discussion of major points for and against each side (10 min.)
- Random drawing to determine group roles: Side 1, Side 2, Judge A, Judge B
- Further group discussion of specific arguments (5 min.)
- Random drawing to determine roles: Lead Speaker, Rubutter, Note Taker
- Random drawing to which side goes first
- Lead Speaker for Side 1 (5 min.)
- Lead Speaker for Side 2 (5 min.)
- Rebuttal from Side 1 (5 min.)
- Rebuttal from Side 2 (5 min.)
- Discussion amongst Judges to decide which side won (5 min.)
- One sentence statements and votes from each Judge (5 min.)
- Prof. breaks any ties
to HONR238W Home Page