Reading Reflection

A reading reflection is a short response to a question about topics from the readings. You may also mention what you learned in lectures, but the focus should be primarily the readings to show your comprehension of them and your ability to interpret what you’ve learned. Reading reflections give you the chance to bring your knowledge, understanding, and feelings on a theme or topic from the class more clearly into focus and to express your ideas clearly and succinctly.

Reading reflections consist of two elements: a response and a question.

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–> Be sure to include both parts A and B in your paper.

A. Narrative response: Select and respond to one of the questions provided below, observing the following guidelines:

1. Environmental historian Donald Worster proposes a three-tiered framework for understanding social and environmental change. Use Worster’s framework to explain why the “levees only” approach to water resource management was an essential factor shaping the Hurricane Katrina disaster that struck New Orleans. Be specific in identifying at least one element that fits into each of Worster’s three categories (e.g., environmental conditions or processes at the ‘natural’ level; social institutions and relations at the societal level; and specific ideas at the cultural level), and explain how each interacted with the others to set the stage for human and environmental catastrophe.

2. Drawing on Campanella’s article, explain how the development of an extensive water management infrastructure in and around New Orleans beginning in the early twentieth century has shaped spatial patterns of segregation and differential exposure to the risk of flooding between European American and African American residents of New Orleans. Use at least one specific area or neighborhood in which these patterns have been evident as an example.

Your response should be in the form of an essay question, including the following elements:
1. Thesis statement (1-2 sentences)
2. A well reasoned argument (two or three paragraphs)
3. Topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph
4. A conclusion (1-3 sentences)

– Respond to the question you select based primarily on readings; when applicable lectures have been given, refer to them also. There is no need to draw from outside material, though you may do so minimally.
– Be sure to actually answer the question(s) in the prompt that you choose; do not simply discuss the topic referenced in the question(s).
– Also be sure to indicate which prompt you’re answering.
– Your personal opinions and feelings about the material are important, and you are strongly encouraged to express these in the assignment, though you should ground your arguments in the readings.

For instance, you may:
1. Relate issues and themes to contemporary social, environmental, or political topics about which you feel strongly.
2. Explore your feelings about the issues raised in terms of personal experiences.
3. Comment on the ethical implications of the issues addressed by the question.

B. A question: This part is separate and unrelated to part A above. Write a brief (ideally one sentence) question concerning recent readings. Your question should pertain to something that you are uncertain or curious about and would like to discuss in class.

I’ve attached screenshots of sample reading reflections from past students who took this class. I’ve also attached the 2 articles ( Campanella‘s and Worster’s) to respond to one of the two prompts. I have also attached lecture slides that can be used for the reading reflection. the lecture slide ‘state of the biosphere’ and ‘env history in new orleans’ will help for the Worster article and the ‘katrina disaster’ and ‘in the low ground’ will help for the Campanella article.

Campanella, Richard. “An Ethnic Geography of New Orleans.” Journal of American History, 94
(Dec. 2007): 704–715. Online:
issues/katrina/Campanella.html (be sure to click on the maps to enlarge them, and
explore the “threads” and the Media tab at the top). Further resources (recommended):

Worster, Donald. “Doing environmental history,” in Merchant, Major Problems, 2–9.

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