Vulnerability of Human and Natural Systems

Assignment 2: Vulnerability of Human and Natural Systems (10%) – Instructions and Submission


Now that you have completed the activities and discussion for Module 2, you are ready to do Assignment 2.
This assignment is out of 100 marks and is worth 10 per cent of your final course grade.

The assignment has two sections:

Section A: Short Critical Reflections (30 marks)
Section B: Essay (70 marks)

Details of each section follow.

Section A: Short Critical Reflections (30 marks):

Select one of the assigned readings in each topic in Module 2 and write a short critical reflection (about 250 words) for each (a total of three critical reflections; ten marks for each reflection). You may find it helpful to use one or more of the focus questions included in the activity as a guide.

The critical reflection should present your own thoughts and responses to the reading. Thus, it is an interaction between the ideas in the reading and your own interpretation and response to what you have read. The critical reflection is a polished piece of writing that will be assessed using the same criteria as any piece of writing. It should include an introduction, a body that presents your thoughts clearly and logically, and a conclusion. You may write in the first person but be sure to refer to some of the ideas that are introduced in the reading.

Section B: Essay (70 marks)

Using some of the concepts introduced in Module 2, write an essay of 7501000 words on a topic related to vulnerability of human or natural systems. You may use content from the required readings (any module), but you must include at least two new references as well. Course resources that are not required readings may be regarded as new references. For example, if you are examining the impact of climate change on Arctic wildlife, you may consider the ACIA report as a new reference provided you are using content beyond the required reading. A strong paper will incorporate the concept of vulnerability and associated terms that were introduced in this module.

If you are having a hard time deciding what to write about, here are just a few examples of topics you might consider within the context of the potential impacts of climate change:

Rising sea levels and a vulnerable location (e.g., Florida, Bangladesh, small island states)
Canadian sovereignty issues in the Arctic and the implications for Indigenous peoples
Arctic wildlife in general, or you may want to focus on a particular species such as polar bears or caribou
The culture of the Indigenous peoples of the Mackenzie basin
Alpine plants, cloud forest species, coral reefs, or any other vulnerable species or ecosystem
Drought-prone countries (or country) in Africa or Asia
Ocean acidification and the potential impacts on shell forming organisms

TRU Library offers general guidelines on conducting research and writing essays at

If you have any questions about the assignment, consult your Open Learning Faculty Member. When you have completed the assignment, send it to your Open Learning Faculty Member for evaluation.
Refer to Assignment Instructions section under the Assignments Overview tab for details of the criteria for how the assignments are evaluated.

Assignment Instructions:

Here is the criteria for how the assignments will be evaluated. Details of the individual assignments are provided with each assignment.

Criteria for Evaluating Assignments:


The following criteria will be used to evaluate the essay portion of the written assignments.
Substance (75 per cent)

The essay provides evidence of critical thinking and analysis as well as synthesis of researched information throughout and presents a logical and persuasive argument.
The essay incorporates concepts and associated terms on the science of climate change that were introduced in this module.
Research sources are relevant, current, and credible. They are clearly documented in the paper.
The introduction offers a sense of direction for the paper and presents a clear thesis statement to the reader.
The body develops the necessary aspects of the main idea and provides examples, support, or illustration for each aspect of the main idea.
The conclusion summarizes the main points and ties them to the thesis; it also presents an impact statement and/or suggests direction for future research.
Writing Style and Format (25 per cent)
Paragraphs are unified, developed, and coherent, with transitions between ideas.
Sentences are grammatically correct; words are chosen for accuracy and impact.
The writing follows the conventions of spelling and mechanics (punctuation, etc.).
The format follows the APA documentation style accurately and consistently.

How Assignments Are Marked:
Some students believe they start with 100 marks on a given assignment and lose a mark for each mistake. This is not true. An assignment is judged not only on how well a student avoids grievous errors, but also on what original and worthwhile content and expression a student brings to the assignment. In marking your work for this course, your Open Learning Faculty Member will assess your ability to analyze the essay topic and develop and present a logical, persuasive, and insightful argument that is well supported by citing relevant, current, and credible sources. Your essay also demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the material covered in the course module, and your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct and includes proper format and citations. A first-class, or A, paper (80100 per cent) will meet this criteria, and all lesser grades miss at least one of the ingredients just described.

The following guidelines may help you set standards for your assignments and interpret the marks you receive for them.
80% and above:

A first-class paper (A+/A/A-) exhibits excellence in style, demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the course material, and provides evidence of critical thinking and analysis as well as synthesis of well-researched information throughout. It shows originality and insightfulness, and is written in clear, fluent, and technically correct prose. References are properly and consistently cited and recorded using APA Style.

A second-class paper (B+/B/B-) represents solid, above-average competence and achievement. In an essay of this quality, the ideas are sound, convincingly substantiated, and show some originality; in an otherwise strong discussion, expression might be inconsistent, incomplete in the use of evidence, or display minor weaknesses in style.

A paper at this level (C+/C/C-) is of average competence and demonstrates a satisfactory but incomplete grasp of course and/or research material; ideas might not be fully developed or might tend toward vagueness, or the argument might exhibit problems in expression, organization, style, or mechanics.

A paper at this level (D range) indicates a weak or barely adequate understanding and use of the course and research material; organization and substantiation of argument might be deficient, or the discussion might be flawed by basic writing errors or problems in expression. A grade at this level warns that more energy and effort are needed.

Below 50%:
A grade at this level is a fail and indicates that the assignment is unsatisfactory either in content or expression (or both) and that it does not demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of the course material. However, a student who fails a first assignment should not abandon the course. The Open Learning Faculty Members comments should be read carefully. Please feel free to contact your Open Learning Faculty Member if you have any questions. At this point, the student may wish to continue, or may choose to switch to a course more appropriate to his or her present level.

Critical Reflections

The following criteria will be used to evaluate the short critical reflections submitted as part of the written assignments:

The critical reflection includes a succinct summary of the required reading and demonstrates an understanding of the key points in the reading. /4

The critical reflection also includes a thoughtful, insightful commentary in response to what was read. The commentary demonstrates an engagement with the reading and is the interaction between the ideas in the reading and the students own interpretation/response. /4

The critical reflection is a polished piece of writing, written in clear, fluent, and technically correct prose. (Note that the writing is less formal than an essay, so you may write in the first person.) /2