Contexts Project: Developing a Topic & Peer Response

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Contexts Project: Developing a Topic (entry: 1200 word minimum; each peer response: 200 word minimum, I will upload peer’s text later.)

The Topic must relate to the book: Beyond words : what animals think and feel Carl Safina. (Link for preview: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Beyond_Words/6WfhBQAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1 or you can see the file I uploaded named pp7-24.doc)

From the Formal Guidelines (The file I uploaded named Contexts Project.pdf)

The CP, asks you to do four things: (1) present and analyze a significant political/social/cultural problem; (2) frame this problem with motives or warrants, which are current examples, incidents, or arguments that convince your audience that the problem you’re addressing and the questions you’re asking are alive and relevant right now; (3) summarize and critically evaluate various conversations and debates made by credible scholars and organizations about your topic; and (4) decipher the historical contexts of the problem at hand by locating at least 2 pieces of evidence, at least one from the past and one from the present, that tie the problem as we see it today to its past.

Before you can begin to think about critical evaluation, you must work, as all professional researchers do, to acquire a broad understanding of the topic as a contemporary problem.

Your first task is simply to develop a basic vocabulary for defining the problem. Begin to articulate the “key terms” and “key players” of your first amendment issue; what is the vocabulary used by the experts to describe the issue; who or what occasioned the controversy and what are its effects.

Since we have not yet begun to look at scholarly sources, you’ll begin by locating, reading, finding key terms, summarizing, and evaluating some credible sources from animal conservation related sites or “Think Tank” reports, etc. To insure that your source is credible, you might initially avoid a broad Google search, and just use the search engines within the sites offered to you below along with well-established magazines that focus on investigative journalism or Think Tank reports.

Wildlife Conservation and Humane Animal Treatment Related Sites:

The Wildlife Conservation Society – https://www.wcs.org/ (Links to an external site.)

World Wildlife Foundation – https://www.worldwildlife.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Wildlife Conservation Network – https://wildnet.org/ (Links to an external site.)

National Wildlife Federation – http://nwf.org/ (Links to an external site.)

The Humane Society of the United States – https://www.humanesociety.org/ (Links to an external site.)

The National Humane Education Society – https://nhes.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Friends of Animals – https://friendsofanimals.org/ (Links to an external site.)

The Humane Farming Association – https://www.hfa.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Association of Zoos & Aquariums – https://www.aza.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Cruelty Free International – https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Google Advanced Search:

Google is fine, but use the settings tool on the far right hand corner, click Advanced Search, and see what you can find when you narrow your results to a specific site or domain (.edu, .gov). You will often get really credible popular sources that way and Google Scholar is going to give you only scholarly material much of which you can’t access unless you find it through the library’s search engine (more on that later).

Think Tank:

From Wikipedia: “A think tank, policy institute or research institute is an organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology and culture. Most policy institutes are non-profit organizations, which some countries provide with a tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or corporations and derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.” In other words, think tanks are the work of researchers who do not go through a formal peer-review process before their work is published, which is why you should always read and evaluate a Think Tank’s “About” section to determine the organization’s agenda. Having an agenda does not necessarily qualify your work as suspect; having an agenda simply means that the work evolves from a set of values. When a source is reliable, those values are made transparent; when it isn’t, those values are concealed.

Once you find an assortment of sources, do the following while reading:

Look for problems as you read. Make a Document that allows you to cut and paste key passages and to make notes on the source as you read. You should do this sort of organized note-taking for every source so that you don’t have to waste time trying to find information you read and remember, but later forgot where to find it.

Complete the assignment below:

1. Once you read the CP Prompt, please record any questions you have about the assignment.If you do not have any questions, please write: I HAVE READ THE FORMAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CP AND I DO NOT HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AT THIS TIME.

2. Describe the current animal conservation topic that you decided to investigate. Try to characterize the type or types of problems associated with the topic (economic? social? political?), providing what evidence you can.

3. In addition to the animal group you are investigating, what communities or groups of people have you found so far that are the most affected by this issue? Describe at least TWO significant effects that have resulted from the problem you intend to further investigate. Describe at least ONE policy, law and/or common misperceptions that have caused or contributed to one or more of these effects. Be specific.

4. Under your paragraph-length explanations, please record a minimum of FIVE sources you found for the topic in 8th edition MLA formatting.

5. Under each citation, include a paragraph length annotation that does that following: provides an account of the article’s context; its main argument; the primary evidence its author uses to substantiate his or her main claim; the purpose of the article; its primary audience. Please refer to the document (the file I uploaded named Annotated_Bibliography_How-To.doc) to write your annotations. After your annotation, provide a brief explanation of how the source gave you a more specific understanding of the problem concerning any of the following: new terms, key players, effects, causes, solutions, key pieces of legislation, policy, events.

6. Include a list of key research terms: Good keywords are specific: they involve legislation, policy, organizations, names of important figures, events, places. Keywords should always help you to find relevant, related sources. Also, keep a separate file for key terms, dates, policies, events, people, etc that you find in the articles you read that will help you to develop a vocabulary for discussing the specific policies, legislation, and/or other key players and related issues.

Example:

From HFA, Intro:

Good key research terms: “factory farm confinement” “National Veal Boycott” “Suwanna Ranch”

Poor key research terms: “animal cruelty” “hormones” “antibiotics”

7. Include at least THREE specific fact-based questions that you want for your CP research to answer for you.

When you are finished, respond to TWO other posts with USEFUL AND SPECIFIC suggestions or comments (I will give you the posts later. This part doesn’t count within the time limit. Note that while it is nice to be positive, simply pointing out that you like a topic without offering clear, specific guidelines or suggestions can be misleading).

Constructive criticism means just that: criticism followed by some suggestions for construction–picking up the pieces of the author’s shattered world! (e.g., “You need more sources in this paragraph. A great source for the claim you have here can actually be found on page 1, where you talk about…” Or “Have you thought about using…?”

Note, too, that offering other source suggestions the author hasn’t yet found is always a bonus!

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New York University
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