Friday, October 31, 2008

Sample GM - Carbon Footprints

As we've discussed, participating professors can either come up with their own topics (and we'll help shape them) or make use of what we call "master modules" - that is, GMs that we have run before or which have been specially created. Even the master modules can be adapted to fit a professor's own interests or the needs of a specific course. So, I thought it would be a good idea to post some of these sample GMs so that you can get a clearer sense of the approach we take - and the variety of themes that you can explore.

Gary Scudder

Carbon Footprints

This Global Module hopes to look at the subject of global warming and carbon footprints in an international context. Students will be reading articles about the environmental impacts of their lifestyle and energy use patterns and they will have the opportunity to calculate their personal impact and to discuss that impact and strategies for sustainable living.

Links to each of the articles students will be discussing can be found below:

Article 1:
A Tale of Two Families

Article 2:,4370244.story
Plans for a zero-carbon city.

Article 3:
Big Foot article

Ideally, students from regions of the world that supply fossil fuels will interact with students from regions of the world that consume them, or would like to consume more of them, or would like to see consumption reduced. A number of engaging questions may arise: Should people with large carbon footprints pay some sort of tax to discourage them from doing so? Should developing countries continue pursuing consumption levels of those who have already high-consumption levels? Are there moral arguments that can be effectively made or must the solution be found in economic incentives? Should everyone begin reducing their carbon emission impact or just those with high usages? Should we regard certain lifestyles as a threat? As potentially lethal?

The possibilities for discussion are numerous.


Week One: Introductions

During the first week, students will be introducing themselves to one another and formulating their own personal objectives for the exercise. As a means of getting the conversation going, students will be asked to view the short lecture The Story of Stuff located at:

Students are asked to include a paragraph or two of reaction to the video with their introductions.

Week Two: Discussions

During week two, students will read the three articles supplied in the Suggested Description section above. A number of questions have been asked and students may wish to pick one or more to address in their weekly post. Each student is asked to include some information or perspective that they have acquired from some research outside the assigned texts as well as offering their critical reflections upon what they find in them. It may well be that the carbon footprints of the different participants are significantly different. It is hoped that students will be able to communicate with each other how they feel about this divide. Might one group have a sense of resentment? Entitlement? Shame? Pride? The intent of the discussion is not simply to better understand the science and economics of carbon footprints and global warming but also to better understand one another.

Week Three: Group Work

By now your professors have divided you up into groups. Contact your fellow group members, both the ones at your school and also your international partners. As a group, work on the following questions:

Students should go to (Or a site like it) and calculate their ecological footprint twice--once with their lifestyle as a citizen of the United States, and a second time with the same lifestyle as a citizen of Ethiopia.

How big is that ecological footprint? Why do you think the footprint was calculated differently based on where the student lives? If a student lived in Dubai, would they expect their actual number to be higher or lower than what was calculated for them in the United States?

Together with your group, make a reasonable plan for reducing footprints . . .

A. On an individual level
B. On a community level
C. On a national level
D. On a global scale

Week Four: Debriefing

In the last week, students will be sharing their group plans. Some reference should be made as to whether both groups feel equally responsible for solving the problem by the making of lifestyle changes. Each group may wish to supply three or four questions raised by the GM that they might like to pursue further in the future.


Discussion Work: 25 pts.

Each student will be evaluated on one thoughtful response to a week one and week two question. A score of 25 will be awarded to posts that demonstrate a thorough reading of the assigned text, that demonstrates critical thought and reflection upon the text, and that shares a personal experience, insight, or question that comes from outside the assigned text.

Group Work: 25 pts.

Each student will be assigned to a small group and will receive a grade on the report submitted by that group in week four. Lack of participation in group-work by an individual student will result in appropriate deductions.

Reflection Essay: 25 pts

Each Champlain student will be asked to write a critical reflection after the GM. This assignment will require the student to cite three “moments” in the conversation that they feel best highlights for them the ways that students involved shared either a commonality or a difference about some fundamental issue.

Survey: 25 pts

A final survey of the involved students will be created from the questions students verbalize in week three and four. Data from this survey will be collected by the instructors and distributed to the participating classes.


At least one faculty member will be responsible for:

1. Logging in at least every other day to read posts
2. Responding as appropriate
3. Organizing and overseeing group work
4. Evaluating final essays
5. Assembling surveys and survey results