Thinking Green: Expanding Your Environmental Consciousness

Professor: Gretchen Legler
Institution: University of Maine Farmington
Course Number: ENG 100








CLASSROOM: Roberts 001b                       MEETING TIMES:T/R  3:30-5:00

PROFESSOR: Dr. Gretchen Legler                OFFICE: Creative Writing House

PHONE: 778-7182 (voicemail)                       E-MAIL:[email protected]

OFFICE HOURS:  MW 12-12:30, 2-2:30, TR 10:30-11:30


REQUIRED MATERIALS: Please buy these books at Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers in downtown Farmington:

▪A Place on Water, Bob Kimber, Wes McNair and Bill Roorbach

▪ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver

 Bring to class every day a copy of the Bedford Handbook which you should have received this upon your arrival at UMF

▪Writing Matters at UMF: English Composition Handbook (UMF Bookstore)

▪Voices: Student Essays From English 100 (I will provide this)




COURSE DESCRIPTION / GOALS: In the First Year Writing Seminar the focus is on writing–all kinds of writing: writing to help you think critically; writing to help you express your soul and describe the world around you; writing to help you in your chosen profession, business or trade; writing to help you communicate with friends and foes; writing to help you succeed in college. This is NOT an “English” class, or a “grammar class,” or a class where you’ll be expected to be a “perfect” writer. This is a class in learning to communicate using words, which is something you will need to know how to do well regardless of your major. It is part of your birthright and, as far as I am concerned, part of your duty as a literate world citizen. Writing is an empowering act that can bring you joy as well as a sense of genuine accomplishment. My philosophy is that it is everyone’sright to be a good writer.

This is a class for intensive practice using writing for practical survival and genuine discovery. We will examine and practice all parts of the writing process: finding starting points, gathering and ordering material, fitting words and ideas to audiences, drafting and revising, and producing finished, elegant prose. We’ll write a lot. We’ll read a lot. We’ll analyze texts and look at other examples of professional and student writing. We’ll read and evaluate each other’s work. We’ll learn techniques for research. The goal is for you to become a comfortable and competent writer and critical thinker inside and outside of the college setting.


OUR SPECIAL TOPIC: The topic for our writing seminar is “Thinking Green: Expanding Your Environmental Consciousness.” The topic comes from my own interest in and passion for the natural world. We encounter the word all over the place now—“Green.” We hear it from politicians, read it on food labels and see it catalogues trying to sell us things. What does it really mean to “be green” or “think green”? In this course we will explore some of the myriad ways our lives connect to the world around us. Our focus will be on the ways our consumption of food, water, fuel and other natural and man-made products impacts landscapes and people on a local, regional and global scale.

In this class we will examine a wide range of environmental issues including:

□ The marketing of “green”

□ Sustainability

□ Sense of place

□ Seed Saving/Industrial vs. Local Agriculture

□ Climate change

□ Energy Use/Peak Oil/ Energy Alternatives

□ Food and Food Culture

□ Patterns of Consumption and Disposal

□ Fair Trade/Free Trade

□ Issues related to water and soil

This is an especially exciting topic to be exploring right now, as environmental and energy issues have become vital to our national and global health and economy. This will also be an exciting semester at UMF, with numerous environmentally-focused events taking place, including a big push around project, which culminates in an international day of environmental action on October 24. My hope is that these events will enable you to build a bridge between our classroom and the larger world.



1. FIRST! Read and fully understand the syllabus. If you have any questions, it is your responsibility to ask.

2. Attendance: Because this course is structured like a writing workshop, your presence is absolutely essential. If you miss a class, YOU must make your own arrangements to get homework and class notes from your classmates.  Do not ask the professor to catch you up if you have not been in class! After TWO absences, each additional absence will lower your overall final grade by a plus or minus point. This policy is true of absences for ANY reason. Arriving more than 15 minutes late for class counts as an absence.  Coming to class so hungover or tired that you can’t participate also qualifies as being absent. SEE ADENDUM RE H1N1 FLU

3. Participation (15%): Your participation grade will be based mostly on:

Engagement with workshopping sessions. This includes verbal as well as written participation—i.e. your comments on peer drafts. If you sit back in a passive way during workshops, your grade will suffer.

Coming to class prepared, speaking up in class, offering ideas and responses.  Have something to say or a question to ask EVERY class period. If you are not naturally gregarious or outgoing, you will have to make an extra effort.

4. Conferences (15%):  You are required to attend a 15-minute conference at some stage during the writing process for each paper you write in this class—2 with the professor, 1 with our class Preceptor, and 1 at the UMF Writing Center.   It is your responsibility to make these conference appointments outside of regular class time. You will be evaluated based on your preparation for the conference. A missed conference counts as an absence, and will earn you an F for this portion of your grade.  Check out the UMF Writing Center Website for hours: Please turn in to me a signed confirmation of your visits to the Writing Center.

5. Academic Writer’s Journal (20%): In this class I want you to get used to writing regularly in an informal way, so, you are required to keep a writer’s journal. You will make these journal entries either on the computer, or in a notebook.  The fuller and more complete your journal the better your grade will be. Plan on making at least two entries a week, with each entry being from 250-500 words. I’ll ask you to turn in your journal at regular intervals. What should go in the journal?

Reflections on  field trips

Class visitors/speakers

Responses to the reading and class discussion

Responses to campus events that you attend (including College Success Series)

Responses to “Independent Activities” (see list)


Responses to films

Notes from planning

All short assignments

7. Major Assignments (50%): You will be writing four essaysthis semester, covering three genres, or types of writing—the personal narrative, analysis, and research. Each paper will be from 3 to 5 pages long (except the research paper which will be 5-7). Each one will require pre-writing, an early draft, workshopping, conferencing, and a revised draft. You may revise each paper as many times as you wish. The assignments are as follows:

Argument/Textual Analysis:

Derrick Jensen’s “forget Shorter Showers”


Green Advertising Analysis

Personal Narrative:

Relationship to Place (a personal essay about a place that is special and important to you)

Our model will be the essays in the book A Place on Water.

Research Paper (5-7 pages) & Presentation

A research paper on any topic you choose that emerges from our reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, followed by a presentation to the class.


POLICY ON LATE WORK: All work must be turned in by 5 p.m. on the day it is due. No late work will be accepted. No exceptions.

GRADES: Grades are earned, not given. Just doing the work, or trying hard, does not guarantee you an A. A final grade of A denotes superior work of high quality and insight, going beyond the minimums set forth in the syllabus. A grade of B denotes strong work that meets and goes slightly beyond the expectations set forth in the syllabus. A C denotes work thatmeets the minimum expectations set out in the syllabus (in other words, just showing up and doing the work may earn you a C). A D denotes work that falls below the expectations set forth in the syllabus.

ACADEMIC CONDUCT: University of Maine policies on student rights, conduct and academic dishonesty apply and will be upheld in this classroom. Please familiarize yourself with these policies, which are outlined in the University of Maine at Farmington Catalogue and in the Student Handbook. Examples of infractions that may result in dismissal from this classroom, reporting to the UMF conduct officer, and possible expulsion from the university, include plagiarism, harassment or intimidation, and disruptive or violent behavior.

PLAGIARISM : One of the things that the UMF faculty is very serious about is plagiarism. Plagiarism, strictly speaking, is the stealing of words, ideas, images, or creative works.  Plagiarism, whether or not it is intentional, is looked upon as an academic crime. Plagiarism includes stealing or borrowing ideas and words from your peers as well as others. Buying papers online is a form of plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, your work will be given an automatic F, you may be expelled from the course, and your action will be reported to the Dean and Provost and kept as part of your permanent file. The consequences are SERIOUS. Acquaint yourself, therefore, with the UMF Writing Center’s plagiarism website:

EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY is offered at UMF to students with special needs due to disability. Please notify me if a reasonable accommodation is needed to meet course requirements.

INCOMPLETES: Only under the most unusual of circumstances will I grant an incomplete.



In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to an outbreak of H1N1 flu, the format and attendance requirements for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course.  Should this occur, you will be provided an addendum to the course syllabus that will supersede the initial version.

We are asking all members of the UMF community to help us in limiting the spread of this virus and other communicable illnesses.  Students who are experiencing influenza-like symptoms—a fever, sore throat, and/or cough—should not attend class.  These absences will not be penalized.  You do not need to provide a note from your physician.  However, it is your responsibility to notify all your instructors (via e-mail, telephone, or voice mail) as soon as possible  about your condition.  You will still be responsible for all course-related work, but appropriate accommodations will be provided.

Should you experience a fever, sore throat, and/or cough, you need immediately to contact the Health Center at 778-7200 or your own health care provider.  According to the Maine Center for Disease Control, you must be placed in isolation (not in your room in the residence hall) either by returning to your home or by being placed in a pre-designated isolation room in one of our residence halls.  If you remain on campus, the Health Center will assign you to available space where you must stay until you are free of fever, without fever-reducing medication, for a period of 24 hours or until your symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.  You should not return to class until that time.

For more information about the progress of the H1N1 virus in Maine, please go to