The purpose of this project is to apply and advance your research and communication skills through the combination of scientific knowledge synthesis, report writing and graphical illustration. It will assess you on your ability to apply the following core concepts:
• Environmental change
• Double exposures & ‘exposure-sensitivity’
The instructor will provide a list of places; each place is assigned a particular economic sector or community. You will choose one place and the assigned sector/community as your topic, conduct research about environmental changes and exposures, and present your findings in written and illustrated form. You will apply the ‘vulnerability framework’ approach to research/analyze your topic place and community/sector. For a refresher, refer back to your notes and to Young et al., 2010. You should also re-read chapters three and four from Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures, written by Leichenko, R.M., O’Brien, L (required reading for Unit 05).
NOTE: the GEOG*3020(DE) take-home exam will build directly on this project. You are strongly advised to save all of the research, notes, ideas, etc., that you generate as you complete this project because you will almost certainly want to draw from them as you work on the take-home exam at the end of the semester.
The project has five components and it will be very difficult to complete them all in under 3 weeks. Students are advised to get an early start, begin with research and note-taking, and then fleshing out plans for each component. Be sure to save ample time for designing and illustrating the conceptual model!
Component 1: Title page and table of contents
A title page followed by a table of contents that lists each of component 2-5, any sub-headings and figure titles, and associated page numbers for each.
Component 2: Executive summary
An executive summary that introduces what the project addresses and overviews highlights from the literature review, sensitivity analysis and mental map. For advice on writing executive summaries (and perspective on how they are slightly different from abstracts), see here.
Component 3: Review and synthesis of scientific literature on environmental exposures in your topic place
A systematic literature review and synthesis on the state of scientific knowledge about projected changes to temperature, precipitation, the frequency/severity of storm events, etc. — and the level of certainty of those projections — for your topic place.
You will review and synthesize information from at least five authoritative sources, including the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The remaining four sources should be a mix of peer-reviewed scientific literature and government or agency reports relevant to your topic place. Be sure they are substantial reports and not just information posted on a website. Your treatment of physical geography and projected environmental changes must be as precise as possible – i.e., your review must include information that is specific to the region to which you have been assigned.
NOTE: In an ideal world, we would run local climate models to assess the rate and severity of climate change in each topic place. But, of course, we do not have the time or resources for such a thing and so this is why we are relying on the literature review!
Component 4: Identify the physical, social, and economic factors that increase sensitivity of the socioeconomic sectors in your place exposures identified in Component 3
A characterization of the social and economic background and potential impacts of climate-related exposures in your topic place and for the sector/community AND identification of additional globalization-related exposures.
For climate-related exposures, please summarize contextual factors that will increase sensitivity to a given exposure (e.g., does your region have lots of fresh water around to cope with a drought, or not?). Next, you will identify and discuss globalization-related exposures in your topic place that are relevant to the sector/community in question (e.g., is the market compelling growers to continue to produce crops that are susceptible to drought, and therefore increasing their risk to climate change?).
Note: the examples above are entirely hypothetical, to get you thinking. Be sure to review material from Units 04-06, think about the ‘double exposures’ concept and do research to find specific facts and data relevant to your topic place and the sector/community in question. Sources may include agencies such as the UN, World Bank, Central Intelligence Agency, International Energy Agency, government websites, etc. Use at least three different references; these are in addition to the five (minimum) from component 3.
Component 5: Develop a conceptual model/cause-effect diagram that illustrates environmental exposures, sources of sensitivity (focusing on double exposures) and key pathways through which those exposures lead to impacts on your socioeconomic sectors
A conceptual model/visual image that summarizes and illustrates your vulnerability assessment. It communicates the ‘problem at a glance’ and makes it easy for the viewer to identify relationships between climate-related exposures, globalization-related exposures, factors related to sensitivity, and how this may produce various social and economic impacts.
The conceptual model should be created using a computer program. Options include a figure made in PowerPoint, or a more advanced graphics design software such as adobe illustrator or other similar options. It should be exported (or screen captured) from that program and included in the written document as a figure.
NOTE: This model is not intended as a tool for predicting the future, but as a means of communicating key relationships, influences, sensitivities, impacts and consequences. There is no single, standard way to develop a conceptual model. You must balance detail with clarity; too much detail will make the model look too unwieldy, and too little detail will render the model useless. For inspiration, refer to examples provided throughout the course (e.g., Young et al. 2010).
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