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Writing assignment 1: A population speech
People & the Environment
Writing Assignment 1: A population speech
Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: The Geographic Perspective
Lesson 3: Population & Demography
Population geography is the study of populations, including characteristics such as age, gender, fertility, health, occupation, religion, and ethnicity, and how characteristics of a population are exhibited across a landscape — that is, in a spatial context. In this assignment we will explore changes that happen within populations, both natural trends (think, births and deaths) and movements (think, immigration and emigration).
One thing that makes the study of populations complex is that people are mobile. Sometimes this movement is gradual and welcomed (think skilled workers to a large city) and at times it is sudden and a source of contention (think refugees escaping persecution). Regardless of the mode of arrival or the reason or cause (push and/or pull), the topic of immigration permeates societies worldwide. It is discussed in the context of politics, economics, and culture, including race, ethnicity, language, religion, societal norms, labor, and so on. Between failed boat crossings, budget concerns, squatter settlements, protests and rallies, mainstream media outlets spend a great deal of time reporting on the debate; sometimes with compassion, using words like plight, fairness, and human rights, but often addressing it as a crisis, in need of urgent reform. And while the reporting can be biased, with errors and omissions, the attention is not without merit — migration can have a profound affect on both the landscape (physical and cultural environments) and the population, immigrant and native.
There are also implications of the natural changes that take place in a population, growth, stagnation, and decline. In your lesson, you were presented with not only three of the most common perspectives adopted by those who are concerned with populations, but also the experiences of several countries, some grappling with growth, others bracing for decline. As with migration, we again see that natural trends can have a profound affect on the landscape and population affected.
As a budding geographer and academic, capable of consulting peer-reviewed journal articles and also thinking critically about the issues reported by mainstream media outlets, you have a unique and informed perspective, supported by research, to report. You can (and are encouraged to) share your knowledge and perspective with your peers.
Begin by going through the collection of articles assembled for this course. Use the list of Tag Bundles link to filter articles specific to this reflection assignment (immigration or refugees or population). Use this exercise to learn about current issues and discover what countries, organizations, parties, and so on, that have an interest in population (trends and changes) are talking about. Also, think about which articles most interest you and take a moment to read two or three.
(1) You will begin this assignment by selecting a current (published in or after 2010) academic journal article written about population matters. You can select an article that addresses this topic in a general sense (that is, it is directly addressing immigration trends or population growth, for example) or a specific topic related to one aspect of population change, perhaps “Michigan and Immigration and Islam” or “Russia and population and death” will be your search terms. You may also want to start broad, and narrow your focus once you have an idea of the types of topics that are researched.
Finding a Peer Reviewed Academic Journal Article
The Michigan State University library allows you to search for and access many full-text, peer reviewed journal articles, and more specifically, geography-related indexes to help you narrow down your search: Other E-Resources in Geography. Further, you may want to do a little exploring and first read about the research interests of MSU’s physical geographers before starting an indexed search. It is often easiest if you have a more specific topic in mind. Further try sorting your search results, listing the newest, or most recently published, articles first.
Here is an easy way to get started. From the library homepage and click on Electronic Resources under Quick Links. Now, from the list of Commonly Used E-Resources on the right, select ProQuest (All databases). You can really use most any one of these resources, but for the sake of simplicity, ProQuest is a good place to start. Now, in the search bar, type “Europe and Immigration.” Again, this is just a place to begin your search. Click both boxes below the search bar (Full text and Peer reviewed) and then the magnifying glass to populate your search. Once articles appear, you can start to narrow in on a recently published article (in or after 2010) on a topic that interests you.Once you have located and saved or printed a full-text, academic journal article, you are ready to move on to the next step of this assignment.
(2) Once you have selected an article, you need to select an organization or group of people that would be a suitable audience to present the article’s findings to. Consider the following questions to help you decide who would be most interested in hearing a presentation on your topic.
1. What journal was the article I selected published in? (This may provide the answer to the next question.)
2. Is the article political, economic, or social in nature?
When you have answers to those two questions, do a little searching online for organizations. There are many lists and some articles contain the names of groups involved, for example, an article about a recent rally or protest may include the name of the group that organized or participated in the event. Here are some other ideas:
• Nationalist organizations (wikipedia includes a list by country)
• Humanitarian organizations
• Trade or professional organizations
• Religious groups
• Media outlets
• Academic institutions
• Government departments
For a list of on-governmental organizations in worldwide, visit the Worldwide NGO directory (WANGO).
For a list of government websites in European countries and other select groups, click here.
For a list of U.S. governmental departments and agencies,
(3) Write a speech or presentation, based on the information and findings in your article, to the group you selected. In your speech, be sure to connect the population topic you are speaking on (can be extremely specific or more general and broad) to the environment, physical or cultural. In other words, think about how your topic, the population trend or group that is your focus, might affect the environment, for better or worse. One example of this would be the influence that Muslim immigrants have on a specific city in France, or the strain placed on water resources by the growing refugee population at a refugee camp in Jordan. This does not have to be the focus of your speech, but any human-environment (built or natural) interactions associated with your topic should be addressed in some way.
Some notes about writing a speech
As the speaker, you can choose what you want to accomplish with your speech. You may want to persuade your audience to change their mindset or typical way of thinking, convince them to act in a certain way or do something specific, or rally them up by supporting their beliefs and/or cause.
All speeches have a purpose that will fall into one (or more) of the following categories:
• Entertainment/Special Occasion
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, the earth’s population has increased by twelve people; read it again and you have another twelve. Where did that come from? Well, speeches also need a powerful opening line so be sure not to fall flat in the first statement you make. Check out some popular TED talks to get the creative juices flowing.
Last, but not least, you need to use articles from other credible sources (preferably current, though older articles may provide context) to lend support to what you are talking about. Refer to events that have happened or are happening, the current state ot the topic or situation, people involved, and so on. For example, if a recent New York Times article reported on violence against or the arrest of a woman wearing a headscarf in France, you might want to mention that if your speech is on the assimilation of European Muslims. Or, if you are speaking on demographic change in the Netherlands at “The Labour Market in Times of Population Ageing and Decline” conference, you may want to mention the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and its Deputy Prime Minister, Lodewijk Asscher, or State Secretary, Jetta Klijnsma.
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