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Biggest Environmental Problem?

This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Jeanette Jerz, DePauw University
Course: Environmental Geology
30 students
"I believe that starting them off on the first day by actively thinking about the content of the course, they are much more prone to be engaged for the semester."

The Activity

I give them 5 minutes to write answers to the questions "what is the biggest environmental problem facing the world today? why?" This is the basis of a discussion at the start of the class the next day. This essay question allows all voices to be heard in a fairly non-threatening way.

Additional Information

I match this question with a similar one on the final exam.