Friday, April 04, 2008

Environmental Web Page From Marquette Students

Now online: a new web page (a wiki this time, and not a blog) produced by Marquette students dealing with environmental issues -- both nationally and (especially) in Wisconsin.


The page is extremely informative, and relatively nonpartisan.

The writing is of generally high quality. Some essays do suffer from an uncritical “gee whiz, all these policies are just great” naïveté. But on the other hand, there is a balanced (or even somewhat critical) treatment of ethanol.

The page began as an adjunct to Prof. McGee Young’s course on Environmental Politics. Last year, Young got a few students involved on a trial basis. This year, he extended the project to involve the entire class.

Being a “wiki” hosted by, anybody can sign up to be a member. And any member can post, or edit the posts of other members. In a few notorious cases on Wikipedia, this capability has been used maliciously, or irresponsibly to post nonsensical “information.” In fact, that has not happened on this site, and is unlikely to, although Young has moderator privileges and can lock out anybody who causes problems.

Young has assigned students in his class to various roles in the project. First, each student reads three online newspapers from various Wisconsin towns or cities, and posts on environmental issues in those places. This accounts for the impressive depth of information on local issues.

Secondly, each student is assigned to one of five groups: events, elected officials, organizations, institutions or issues. Students post on each of these.

Beyond requiring participation as a class requirement, Young is making a point of avoiding excessive involvement with the site, wanting it to be a bona fide student project.

Daily page “hits” on the site are “not breaking 100 yet” according to Young. But attempts to promote the site are recent, a press release having gone out only this week. Likely, visibility will build slowly but steadily.

The wiki software allows anyone to sign up and post, and in the best of all possible worlds the site would “take off” with members posting from all over the state. But at a minimum, this is a most successful student project.


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