Reflection: Real World Applications Environmental Ethics and Worldview - Section 3: Discussion


To answer a question that might be floating through your mind, "Why do you have a 'discussion' that more or less just goes over the homework questions?", I offer this student work sample

The question this student was responding to was, "Do you think there are environmental justice issues in Los Angeles?  Explain why or why not."  As you can see in the discussion guide, I felt this was a fairly straightforward question for anyone that had done the reading.  I expected most of my students to be able to pinpoint some particular instances of environmental injustice, especially considering that they come from an economically disadvantaged neighborhood.  Most students were able to identify examples such as the "nasty" water in the local park's lake and the trash that piles up in alleyways and on sidewalks.  Some other students went even further by contrasting the industrial east side of downtown Los Angeles (including its dry riverbed) with the fancy shopping districts of west Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica.

The student that did this work, however, seemed to miss the point entirely.  In fact, it's pretty hard to understand from what was written what, exactly, it was that the student was trying to communicate apart from the view that there are not environmental justice issues in Los Angeles.  

I'm not certain that this particular student participated in the discussion, or even wound up completely understanding the issue of environmental justice, but I do know that it is worthwhile to me as a teacher to offer as many students as possible the opportunity to participate in a discussion with their peers that may help them realize that even if they were off the mark on their homework, they had a second chance to approach the material through the different viewpoints of their classmates and teacher. 

In short, the discussion acts as a broad check for understanding after students have had opportunities to read text, answer questions, participate in an interactive lecture where they can ask questions about the material, and finally, return to the homework questions once more.

  Real World Applications: What was that about Environmental Justice?
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Environmental Ethics and Worldview

Unit 2: The Nature of Environmental Science
Lesson 6 of 17

Objective: Students will be able to explain how differences in worldview can affect the decisions made by citizens, consumers, corporations and governments.

Big Idea: The scientific information obtained by environmental scientists is neutral and objective. How that information is interpreted depends on the subjective personal ethics and worldview of individuals.

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