When did we enter the Anthropocene? When do you believe that this new period in the Earth’s history began?
One of the greatest debates in the environmental history, climate science and geology at present is how we will define, describe and date “the Anthropocene,” the new geological era in which we are living, profoundly shaped by human impacts on the environment. This course has examined the concept of the Anthropocene at length, especially in the second half of the course. Your task in this essay is to engage with this debate.
Based on what you have learned in this class please write an essay (5-7 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, using Chicago Manual of Style footnotes for citations) in which you describe what it means to be living in the Anthropocene. To do this, I want you to pose an argument in answer to the following question (to which there is no singular “right answer”–each textbook proposes a different answer, for example, but you are not limited to just those two).
When did we enter the Anthropocene? When do you believe that this new period in the Earth’s history began? Why is this the pivotal moment? Defend your answer by defining the principle features of the Anthropocene and reflecting on how these processes began and have accelerated since the start of the Anthropocene.
This assignment will be completed in stages:
- A rough draft which clearly articulates a thesis statement for your paper and the supporting arguments. You might want to underline your thesis statement. The paper should be as far along as possible towards a finished paper, though you are welcome to indicate where you plan to expand an idea based on forthcoming course materials or additional reading. However, the better and more complete your draft is, the better and more complete the feedback will be to help you write your final essay. Rough drafts will be graded on completeness and their promise as an essay. Rough draft grades are not a guarantee of final essay grades.
- A peer review assignment in which you will read the drafts of two of your fellow students and provide critical feedback to help one-another improve your final essay.
- A final essay consisting of an introduction with a thesis statement, arguments that support the thesis statement, evidence and analysis supporting the arguments, paragraphs with topic sentences, and a clear conclusion that ties the paper together. Essay grading criteria are listed on the syllabus.
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