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RU_SOC 2225W: Science, Technology and Society

Story of Stuff Assignment Description (excerpt from "Content" section)

For the oral component, focus on a brief overview of Part A. with some mention of components of Part B. as your interests dictates. You need to provide much more detail for your written commentary.

Part A. Cover all parts

1. Connection to themes and specific information in the class- How do your findings connect to other themes we have learned about related to science,technology and society in the class? Refer to particular readings or lessons we learned in class.

2. Questions for audience- (see full Story of Stuff assignment description)

3. Personal and/or societal significance - Why did you choose this item? How does it impact your life? Why did you choose it over other items?

4. Story /Process- Give some sense of at least three of the following: extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal

5. Labor and/or Environmental Justice*

a. Labor- How is it cultivated and harvested currently (mechanical and/or human labor [farmer versus hired (seasonal vs. permanent)]? What kind of scale of operation is typical today?

b. Ecological Impact-What kind of ecological impact does the extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal of the item have on the other earth?

*You need to focus on the product itself and not general company activities/ policy/mission.
For the written commentary, you are strongly encouraged to include both labor and ecological impact but for the oral component you only need one component.

Part B. You are required to address at least two of the items below

1. History -What are the cultural origins and significance of your item?
2. Societal Issues- How has this food item shaped the cultural and political landscape or how has the food item been shaped by the cultural and political landscape?
2. Transport- How was it generally transported from its origins to where you purchased it? How might the distance traveled compare to other similar items?
3. Marketing and Processing- How has it been processed and marketed in general? How has this impacted public opinion of the food item?
4. Alternatives –Discussion of alternatives as applicable (e.g. industrial versus “alternative” (e.g. organic, fair trade, local, sustainable, eco-friendly, etc.)
5. Consumption choices There will be some good and some bad information with the items that you have chosen. Why do you think these aspects are good or bad? How do you make your consumption choice as individuals? It is difficult balancing those aspects.
6. Origins- Where did you purchase/acquire the item? Where did it come from? What company made it, processed, and/or packaged and marketed it to you? What are the basic components and raw materials that make up your item? Where did the raw materials originate?
7. Consumption- Why and how has this product been consumed? Has this changed over time?
8. Economics- How much did it cost, and who received the money when you paid for your item? You need to consider all points of production.

Workflow and Information Sources

1.  Choose a product (If you're really stuck for ideas you can look at products listed in Parts and Manufacturers resources, or rated by rating services in the NGO's - Labor and Environment section.)

2.  List components/ingredients (may be listed on packaging, or on product website, or via a resource in Parts and Manufacturers)

3.  Where do, or might, parts/ingredients come from? (See Parts and Manufacturers, product websites, Industry Overviews,  News, Google)

4.  Is your product or its company described in a rating or certification service? (See NGO's-Labor and Environment). If you cite a rating, say something about how the rating is derived.

5.  Are there news articles about the social practices and/or environmental impact of your product/item? (See News, NGO's, Google)

6.  What can you find out about transportation distances and profit margins for farmers/miners, assemblers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers? (See Cost and Transport, News, Google)

7.  Are there scholarly articles about manufacturing processes/costs, or social or environmental impacts of  this general sort of product, or products produced by this company? (See Peer-Reviewed Articles)