Identify a human-environmental issue of interest to you that fits within the scope of ENV 1600, which you should have done as part of assignment 1.




You will prepare a short paper of 1000 words (~4 pages double-spaced, 11 pt. Calibri or 12 pt. Times New Roman font) on a topic of your choice – preferably using the same articles you used in your first assignment.  You may use additional sources/articles for this assignment if you wish, but it is not necessary, and do be sure to properly cite all information correctly as per the Assignment Formatting and Citations Guidelines for ENV-1600.  If you are doing your paper on the same topic and articles you used in your first assignment, you may skip to Step 3, if you are choosing a new topic, please begin at step 1.



  • To gain familiarity with research resources available to you at UW
  • To build foundational research and writing skills required for success at the undergraduate level
  • To develop your writing with the goal of improving your clarity and conciseness


STEP 1: Identify a human-environmental issue of interest to you that fits within the scope of ENV 1600, which you should have done as part of assignment 1.  This could be related to any textbook chapter (whether or not we cover it in the course) and most importantly your topic/issue should be as specific as possible.  If you are uncertain about your topic – please ask!

Examples of good, well-scoped topics might include:

  • Eutrophication in Lake Winnipeg
  • The role of Indigenous peoples in establishing new protected areas in Canada
  • The effects of sunscreen on ocean corals in Hawaii
  • The impacts of a federal carbon tax on the economy of British Columbia
  • The effects of climate change on a particular species, or agriculture in a particular area etc.
  • The effects of marine plastic pollution on a specific species or type of animal.

Examples of poorly-scoped topics might include:

  • Global climate change
  • Renewable energy
  • Plastic pollution
  • Decline in bird populations

STEP 2: Conduct a search of the library database and limit your search to peer reviewed and full text articles. Start broad and refine search terms related to your topic. For example, “Climate Change” is far too general and will yield potentially millions of hits. The search: “Climate Change” AND “Manitoba” AND “Boreal Forests” will likely produce more specific results. Experiment with searching different keywords to refine your topic choice and related resources. Be sure to limit your search to only peer reviewed articles for this assignment. Be sure that at least 2 of them are published within the last 10 years (preferably more recently). It would be good if one were a review article and 2 research articles (examples provided below).

After reading several abstracts and papers, select THREE relevant publications to form the basis of information in your short paper (preferably those from your first assignment, though if you would like to do a different topic because of something you learned in class that may be O.K. too, but do let me know). NO informal references will be accepted in this paper, only peer-reviewed literature and you will be required to email me your sources as downloaded pdfs.  Please send them again when you submit your paper, even if you submitted them for your first assignment, as it makes it easier to mark when everything is submitted together – thank you.


One inch margins, Times New Roman (12 pt.) or Calibri font (11 pt.) for body text. Format your headings and subheadings according to taste. Use double-line spacing and number your pages (your title page is not numbered). Follow the instructions in the Assignment Formatting and Citations Guidelines for ENV-1600 posted under Assignments on Nexus.

Length:  Four pages, (~1000 words) at double-line spacing, excluding Literature Cited section.


Your entire paper will consist of 5 sections: a Title Page, Introduction, Body (contains the majority of the information and ideas), Conclusions (preferably with solutions to a problem that you identified in your introduction) and Literature Cited.

As a general rule – your introduction should contain about 10% of the words in your paper, the main body about 80-85% and the conclusions about 5-10%.  It is essential that your paper contain all three sections!

The Title Page should include the title of your paper (i.e., The effects of oil spills on sea otters), your name and student number as well as the name of the course, instructor and the date and it should not be numbered.  I’ve included an example for you under the assignments link.

In your introduction you introduce your topic by highlighting known scientific facts (cited) and state the objective of the review or the problem/question to be addressed in your paper. Your introduction also tells the reader what you are going to talk about and lists the topics to be covered in the order they appear in the document.  Note – the majority of this section can be written last, once the body of the paper has come together.  This section is never written in the first person – you do not use the word “I” here. For example, you would not say I will discuss, rather, you might say the remainder of this paper will address…etc.

Your introduction should generally be brief – no more than 1 to 2 paragraphs.  Its purpose is to introduce your topic, why it is important and delivers a thesis statement or provides an objective for your paper that clearly describes the problem (your paper is addressing), the major cause of the problem as well as one or more solutions.

Examples of good and bad thesis statements:

Good:   Climate change is causing flooding to worsen in many parts of Quebec, and to prevent future damage the Premier is offering to buy flood-prone houses for up to $200,000 (in-text citation required).  This paper examines this problem and presents other solutions to reduce the impacts of flooding, including replacing pavement with greenspace.

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  • Double line spacing
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