Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Water and the American West: Assignment

Final Project: Water Conference Panel of Experts

Water and the American West

Final Project: Water Conference Panel of Experts

Due: Thursday, November 12, 2015

Welcome to the home stretch! So far in this course, you have been reading and hearing about a number of water-related issues from experts past and present. The final project is your chance to become an expert in the field of aquatic ecology, fisheries, water management policy, political history, or something entirely new. It is also an opportunity to apply what you have learned to an area that you care about and want to further investigate through deeper research and engagement

Important Dates:

  • October 22nd: Final project proposal due
  • November 5th: Outline of research presentation due
  • November 12th: Final presentation

NB: Each component above will be graded.


In lieu of a final paper or exam, we will be having a formal Water Conference where you will get to present your research to your peers and have a Q&A session among experts. One of the ways that knowledge around a certain topic is stretched and deepened, and innovative solutions are discovered and tested is through an academic conference.

This project will include substantial research on a particular topic and a Powerpoint or Prezi presentation where you will present your methodology and key findings. You will be working individually, and your participation will also be graded in the form of active discussion participation during the Q&A session. See the rubric on the back of this page for further details.

Project Guidelines:

  • Your project should have an original question that requires extensive research into a variety of sources and perspectives rather than answerable in a single source. For instance, instead of the question, “How is the drought affecting California’s farmers?”, your question could be, “How has the economic and social impacts of the drought varied for different farmers depending on their crop, and how might this impact the economic and political future of the state?”
  • Your project proposal must be written in a google doc and shared with both instructors before class starts on the due date. It must be feasible and detailed, including a proposal of what resources you might use for your research. These can be both textual and expert interviews.
  • You must stand up and talk about your project for 8-10 minutes.
  • You must be prepared to answer questions about your project after your presentation.
  • Your presentation must be in either Powerpoint or Prezi format.
  • Your must address the following items in your presentation:
    • Introduction: Grab our attention with why this is important to you. Tell a story, a poem, a quote, or ask the question you’re trying to answer through your research.
    • Background on the Topic: Why did you choose your project? What has been the research up until now? How does your research contribute to this debate or issue?
    • Research: Explain how you went about your research. What were your findings? Did you conduct any interviews? Directly refer to at least two of the sources you used. Make sure you cite throughout. Include relevant graphs and images.
    • Conclusion: Summarize your findings. Describe the challenges and rewards of your research. Describe how this project might inform your future studies or interests.
    • Bibliography: Make sure to include a Works Cited page that is MLA formatted. Include at least 8 sources, with at least 2 of them being a non-web resource. Make sure your resources are credible (ex. use online journal articles and sites ending and .edu. Avoid .com sites. Check in with us about .org sites.)
  • Other tips:
    • Include a thank you slide.
    • Try to engage your audience throughout your presentation with thought exercises or other questions.
    • Include interviews! You will have met a number of experts (the Gateway guides, Ms. Lori Pottinger, Friends of Sausal Creek). We can help you reach out to them for interviews so don’t be shy.
    • Make sure to balance text and images in your slides. You can have notes but you should not be reading off of the slides.
    • Dress appropriately for this formal occasion.
    • Contact us if you ever have any questions!

Final Project Rubric:





Not Passing



>90% of class time is used effectively. During presentation Q&A, you asked a total of at least 4 questions which you spread out among different speakers.

80-89% of class time is used effectively.  During presentation Q&A, you asked a total of at least 2 questions which you spread out among different speakers.

70-79% of class time is used effectively.  During presentation Q&A, you didn’t ask any questions.

Insufficient Effort

Final project proposal


A clear and feasible project was proposed and submitted on time.

A general project idea lacking details was proposed and submitted on time.

A general project idea lacking details was proposed and submitted after the due date.

Insufficient Effort

Outline of presentation


A clear and detailed outline of your presentation was shared on time.

A general outline was shared on time.

A general outline was shared after the due date.

Insufficient Effort



Presentation meets all the criteria listed under Project Guidelines.

Presentation meets most of the Project Guidelines.

Presentation meets half of the Project Guidelines.

Insufficient Effort