Due: Wednesday, March 4, in DGD
Worth: 19% of course grade
Length: minimum 3,000 words (counting all sections, including bibliography)
Deliver in hard copy, printed on 8½ x 11 white paper. No email submissions or handwritten drafts will be accepted.
Lessons: Impact Chapter 8: “Formal Reports”: to page 165. See especially the pp. 155–165 paradigm
The Little Pearson Handbook Chapters 10, 11, 13, and 15. Please read the lessons in advance of starting.
General instruction: Yes or no? By your judgment, should the University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors announce immediately a policy of full divestment of fossil-fuel-industry investment for the university’s $294 million endowment portfolio, with a target date of summer 2024 for completion?
Such a strategy would be in step with recent announcements from the University of British Columbia, from Concordia University, and from certain universities in other countries. For example, in September, the multi-campus University of California announced it had completed divesting all fossil-fuel assets from its $13.4 billion endowment. And just now on Feb. 6, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., announced a full-divestment policy, with a target date of 2025.
—a “pro-divestment” journalistic treatment of the University of California divestment
Wall Street Journal, Sept. 23, 2019: “The University of California Divests”
—an “anti-divestment” treatment of the same event. To access, log into ProQuest at the U Ottawa library website
Back in 2016, the University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors voted against full divestment, deeming it “an insufficient response on its own” to the climate-change challenge: https://www.uottawa.ca/administration-and-governance/board-of-governors/addressing-global-warming. In rejecting full divestment, U Ottawa is in line with many other institutions, such as McGill University, Yale University in the U.S., and Oxford University in the U.K., all of which have announced policies of responsible-investment “climate awareness” that nevertheless do not aim at full divestment. These universities have publicly defended their measured approach with a variety of arguments—some of which you can access through links listed below, on page 3 of this assignment sheet. Yet assuming that U Ottawa’s Board of Governors might be willing to reconsider its current position, could the time be right for the Board to change its mind?
If the U O Board of Governors were to ask your advice, what would you tell them: divest fully or not? And what facts and arguments would you offer—based on about 15 hours of research by you—to support your advice?
Your report will be addressed to the Kathryn Butler Malette, the chair of U Ottawa’s Board of Governors. The report’s main section is called the Discussion of Findings, and your Discussion of Findings will have three segments:
Segment (1) a definition of what exactly “full divestment” means in this situation, including brief explanations of (a) what is a university endowment, (b) what are fossil-fuel investments, (c) what might be considered problematic about them, and (d) what is the difference between full divestment and the approach currently taken by U Ottawa or McGill?
Segment (2) a presentation of the argument in favour of U Ottawa divesting completely
Segment (3) a presentation of the argument against
After these three segments, your report will make its recommendation.
Your assignment: You’ll write a formal report, addressed to Ms. Malette, advising whether or not the university should change its strategy and announce full divestment. You must advise either yes or no. Other answers are not accepted.
If you advise Ms. Malette that yes, the university should divest fully of all fossil-fuel-industry investments, what reasons do you give? Why do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?
If you advise “No, the university should not divest fully,” then what reasons do you give? How could full divestment be a wrong idea, in the face of our approaching climate disaster?
Your situation: In writing this report, you’re not a University of Ottawa student. Instead, imagine that you work for a business consultancy called Lamplighters Corporation, at 139 Sparks Street, Ottawa K1P 5B5; phone 613-563-1509; The University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors has hired Lamplighters to advise on which course of action the Board should take.
Your boss at Lamplighters assigns you to write the report. He says, “Start your research by trying to understand both sides: the argument against full divestment and the argument in favour of it.”
Your research: In upcoming ENG1131 classes, we’ll discuss research procedures. You will consult published journalism, websites, and online forums. Much of the best information has been published recently, in 2018–2020. Please plan to do about 15 hours of research: Less time than that will almost certainly produce poor results. Plan to look at 50 sources at least, of which you’ll have to list at least 30 in your bibliography.
To get you started, there are 16 sources listed in this assignment sheet: You may borrow any or all of them for your bibliography. However, these 16 sources are mainly introductory: Even all together, they only begin to tell you what you’ll need to know for your report.
● See the paradigm at Impact pp. 155–165 and the lesson at pp. 148–154. Your report should be single-spaced but with line-spaces between paragraphs and between listed items.
● Your report must show the eight required parts as taught in Impact: title page, letter of transmittal, table of contents, executive summary, introduction, discussion of findings (= main body of the report), recommendation, and a bibliography or “References” page
● Although the Impact paradigm uses both a “Recommendations” and a “Conclusion” section (pp. 162–164), your report could show just one such section, to be titled probably “Recommendation” (singular) or possibly “Recommendations” (plural).
● Your report must show headings and subheads.
● Your bibliography or “References” section must list at least 30 English-language print sources, each of which should be either a published article or report or a website; newspaper articles should predominate. Beyond these 30 print sources, you may use any sources you wish, in any language (such as French) or any medium (such as video). Your bibliography should be formatted in APA style, as detailed in Pearson pp. 122–133. See also the model bibliographies at Pearson pp. 138–140 and Impact p. 165.
● Your report’s main text must show at least 12 source-notes (or “in-text citations”) in APA style. The number 12 is an absolute minimum, to help simplify instructors’ marking. More than 12 source-notes will be needed for a student to earn a good grade on the report.
● Examples of APA-style parenthesized source-notes appear in Pearson pp. 118–121 and 136–138 and Impact pp. 161–162.
● Not every source in your bibliography need also appear in a source-note in your text. However, every source among your source-notes should logically also appear in your bibliography.
● Address your letter of transmittal to—
Ms. Kathryn Butler Malette
Chair of the Board of Governors
University of Ottawa
75 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa ON K1N 6N5
Evaluation: Your report will be graded on—
1) your argument and grasp-of-facts in support of your recommendation
2) your research, as reflected in your bibliography, source-notes, and chosen facts and arguments
3) your clarity of writing, including word use, grammar, and spelling
4) your use of proper formatting for a formal report.