NR 6 Autobiographical Essay Assignment

Fall 2013

Draft Autobiographical Essay due in folders in 220 Aiken by noon on Thursday September 26
Final Autobiographical Essay due in Discussion Section on Thursday October 10

This assignment has three sections: Purposes, Questions for Reflection, and Writing Directions.  Please read all of these sections before you begin writing.

Purposes

  1. To explore aspects of your identity such as race, class, ethnicity and/or cultural background, religion, gender, drawing on experiences in your life;
  2. To consider what sparked your interest in environment and natural resources;
  3. To explore your attitudes toward people who differ from you in race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, language, religion, and customs;
  4. To explore the ways in which your attitudes toward people who differ from you were shaped by experience, institutions, and the people in your life.

Questions for Reflection

Reflect on the following questions and consider the significant events and people that have influenced your understandings of the environment, race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

1) Describe yourself, including your ethnic, class, and/or cultural background. What aspects of your identity are most important to you and why? (required part of the essay)

2) How did you come to be interested in the environment and natural resources? What aspects of your identity, people, places, and/or experiences have been important to you in developing this interest? (required part of the essay)

3) The items listed below are prompts to think about factors that are likely to have influenced your perceptions of, attitudes toward, and responses to people who are different than you. Address at least 2 or 3 of them. Think about which are important, whether there are other experiences that have been more important, and select the material you would like to address in your essay from that which is most important in your experience. (required part of the essay)

a) Early memories: What are your earliest recollections of people of other races or sexual orientation? How have these people influenced you to be the person you are today? Evaluate the impact of these encounters and what you made of them as a young person

b) Significant People: How have your parents and other relatives or close friends influenced your ideas about racism and sexism? How has your particular ancestry, family history, and interaction with others affected how you think about race and environment issues?

c) School: What events at school have been important in affecting your attitudes towards people of different races and economic classes? In elementary school? High school? College?

d) Work: In the jobs you have held, how have your co-workers or perhaps the customers affected your attitudes towards people of different races and economic classes? Have you experienced situations of conflict with people of different opinions from you? How did you address the conflict?

e) Religion/Spirituality: If you were raised with a religious/spiritual tradition, did it promote a particular orientation toward women and men, people of different races or sexual orientation? How did you feel about the church's position?

f) Many of you are moving to Burlington, VT for the first time. How does this place compare to where you grew up? In what sense do you feel at home and/or out of place? Why?

4) Some might suggest that silence is a significant barrier to addressing societal issues related to differences in race, class, gender, and ethnicity. That is, well-intentioned people do not speak up when they see an injustice occurring. Have you been silent in the past? If so, why? If not, why not?  How do you think silence might contribute to conflicts associated with race, class, gender, and ethnicity in environmental and natural resource issues? (required part of the essay)

Writing Directions

Please complete the following writing assignments:

  1. Draft Autobiographical Essay.
  2. Please write a 3 page draft, which you will develop into a 5 to 7 page final autobiographical essay. Identify and discuss the main experiences/points you will be including in your final essay.

    Be sure to include each of the required aspects of the essay in draft form. This will help us to provide you with feedback that you can use in completing your final essay.

  3. Final Autobiographical Essay. After receiving comments on your draft from your discussion leader and keeping the questions for reflection in mind, complete a 5 to 7 page essay that discusses your background, your interest in the environment, your experiences with diverse groups of people and how these experiences have shaped your attitudes toward difference, and the way in which silence has played a role in your experience of difference. Please type your essay using 12 pt font, 1 inch margins, 1.5 line spacing.