UofM Environmental Issues During the New Deal Discussion


PURPOSE: The purpose of this assignment is for you to practice “doing history” by researching the New Deal. Do not worry if after reading the documents you feel like you have an incomplete understanding of the topic. No set of sources that a historian uncovers is ever perfect or ever fully reveals what happened and why it matters.  The purpose of “doing history” is for you as the scholar to discern the meaning in the sources. This will sometimes involve some frustration and discomfort as you sort out the evidence. Embrace this struggle and you will thrive. After thinking about the primary document PDFs, use your insights and knowledge to craft discussion board responses to the question listed below under “task”.

SKILLS: The assignment will help you practice the following skills that are essential to your success in this course, in the university, and in professional life beyond the university.

  • You will begin by searching out primary source evidence that addresses the problem.
  • Be sure to give these documents a close reading so that you can pull as much meaning as possible from them. See the Primary Source Reading Guide handout in your Topic One folder for more details on how to undertake a close reading.
  • When you are reading the primary documents, you will gain experience in evaluating the views and claims contained in each document. Do the statements made accord with what you’ve read elsewhere for this course?
  • From this primary source evidence, you will discern the most important facts, historical actors, and events associated with the problem.
  • Next, you will compare what you have learned from the primary sources with your textbook and the podcast lectures, which are your pertinent secondary sources.
  • Next, you will outline and plan the narrative of your answer.
  • Next, you will start writing by describing and interpreting the evidence in a manner that allows you to answer the question posed of you. As you write remember that you are telling a story. The writing should be crisp and compelling.
  • All information in your posts will be properly cited. See criteria for the success below for details.
  • Finally, you will develop an analytical thesis that is detailed, substantive, and debatable.

KNOWLEDGE: By doing this assignment you will better understand the intersection among the New Deal, environmentalism, and documentary film.

TASK: In your initial post, address the following questions. Pretend that you are on a production team that has been tasked with developing a public television documentary about environmental issues during the New Deal.  Which three sources are you most likely going to incorporate into your documentary?  Why?  Which three are you least likely to incorporate?  Why?  Be specific and substantive as you answer these questions.

Information taken from sources other than the primary documents will not be evaluated and posts that are structured thusly will not count.  You can, though, use your knowledge of the podcasts and the textbook for framing purposes, meaning typically one sentence per paragraph to set the scene.  At least 90 percent of what you say needs to come from the documents in the form of summarizing content, minimally quoting, and analyzing.  If a mathematical proportion would help you consider how much to summarize, how much to quote, and how much to analyze, consider the following as a good rule of thumb:  60 percent summary and discussion, 20 percent quotation, and 20 percent analysis.