Wikipedia:Canada Education Program/Courses/Present/North American Environmental History (Tina Loo)

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Course description[edit]

Environmental history is the study of how humans have shaped the natural world and how it has shaped them over time. This course provides a thematic overview of land use and environmental change in Canada and the United States, mainly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, it examines the ideas and practices that shaped indigenous and non-indigenous resource exploitation, management, and activism to the end of the twentieth century.

The material is organized into four themes: Empires and Nation-Building; Development; Cities; and Environmentalisms. The in-class portion of the course consists of lectures and tutorials. This website is for the major project of the term, which is for teams of students to produce and/or edit Wikipedia entries on various topics in the environmental history of North America.

Background and Overview[edit]

This portion of HIST 396 is part of the ""Wikipedia Education Program,"" which is currently operating in Brazil, India, Canada, and the United States.

HIST 396 has been chosen to participate in this initiative!

What Does This Mean?

As noted in the course syllabus, throughout the term portions of our class time will be devoted to contributing our expertise to Wikipedia, writing new articles and/or updating existing ones in light of the scholarly literature.

• Students will learn:

o The anatomy of Wikipedia articles
o How to create a Wikipedia account and how to use it
o How to properly research, develop, contribute and edit content for Wikipedia
o What it means to participate in Wiki-culture

• But this isn't a course about Wikipedia! It's a history course. The idea is that by participating in this project students will learn research and writing skills; how to work collaboratively, and most importantly, about the environmental history of North America.

• Students will choose an issue that is of interest to them from a list of possibilities and, working in teams, will either contribute an update to an existing Wikipedia page or create their own brand new page. (See below for a list of possible topics).

• UBC's HIST 396 will be recognized (we hope) with numerous awards for awesomeness.

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Tina Loo
Campus Ambassadors
  • Brandon Davis:contact for Alpine Club of Canada; Bison; Bow River; J.B. Harkin; and National Parks of Canada
  • Henry Trim: contact for Clayoquot; Hell's Gate Slide; Lawn; Trail Smelter Dispute
  • Philip Van Huizen: contact for Columbia River Treaty; Bennett Dam; Kenney Dam; Grey Owl
  • Stephen Hay and Tina Loo will field questions for all groups
Online Ambassadors
maclean (talk), The Interior (Talk), User:Wetman (User talk:Wetman)


Week 1: Introduction[edit]

5 January 2012
  • Introduction to the course as a whole and to the Wikipedia assignment
  • Handout: Welcome to Wikipedia (available in print or online from the Wikimedia Foundation)

Week 2: Wikipedia Essentials[edit]

12 January 2012
  • Introduction to how Wikipedia will be used in the course
Assignment (due week 2)
  • Read Five pillars, an explanation of Wikipedia's basic rules and principles

Week 3: Editing basics[edit]

19 January 2012
Assignments (due 24 January)
  • Create a Wikipedia account, create a user page, and sign up on the list of HIST 396 Team Members on the course page below.
  • To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, leave a message for a classmate on their user talk page, or for Stephen or me!
  • All students have Wikipedia user accounts and are listed on the course page by 24 January 2012

Week 4: Exploring topics[edit]

26 January 2012
  • Discussion of topics
  • Evaluating existing Wikipedia articles
Assignments (due 31 January)
  • Decide on 3-5 topics from the list that you will consider working on as your main project. Note them on your Wikipedia user page.

Week 5: Using sources[edit]

2 February 2012

Week 6: The Annotated Bibliography, Outline, and Starting your Article[edit]

9 February 2012
  • Teams will meet.
  • We'll talk about Wikipedia culture and etiquette, and [optionally] introduce the concept of sandboxes and how to use them.
  • We'll talk about getting started with writing
Assignment (due 14 February)
  • Add 1–2 sentences of new information, backed up with a citation to an appropriate source, to a Wikipedia article of your choice (not necessarily related to the class). When you have done this, leave a message on my Talk page Greentina (talk · contribs) to tell me what edits you have made so I can give you credit for completing the assignment.
Assignments (due 1 March 2012)
  • Continue to read and research your annotated bibliography. It will be handed in right after the midterm break.
  • Outline your article
  • All students will have completed their annotated bibliographies and outlined the structure and content of their Wikipedia articles by the end of the midterm break, on 1 March.

Week 7: Working on Your Bibliographies and Outlines[edit]

Assignments (due 1 March 2012)
  • See above. Bring a hard copy of your annotated bibliography and the outline of the structure and content of your Wikipedia article to class 1 March


Week 9: The Sandbox[edit]

1 March 2012
  • We will collect your annotated bibliographies and the outlines in class.
  • We will discuss sandboxes; places you play - and practice making edits.
  • We will discuss how we're proceeding from here, including tips for dividing the labour of writing your article and communicating with each other.
  • Video resource: Sandbox tutorial
  • Handout: Moving into main space
Assignment (due 13 March 2012)
  • Post your team's outline for what you'll be doing on the article's Talk page
  • Write from 250-400 words of your portion of the article and move it out of the sandbox and into main space.

Week 10: Moving Out of the Sandbox[edit]

8 March 2012
  • We will discuss your outlines and bibliographies and how to go forward from here.
    • Uploading images, and adding images to articles
  • Handouts and videos: Uploading images handout, Uploading files to Wikimedia Commons video, Info on Copyright in Canada
  • Note on copyright in Canada: The thing with Wikipedia that's interesting is we're using servers that are located in Florida, so we must follow US copyright laws, even outside of the US. However, content being added from an IP address in another country also needs to follow the copyright laws of that country. In cases where the two conflict, the stronger copyright law (stricter) must take precedence.
Assignments (due 13 March 2012)
  • Post an agreed-to outline of your article on that article's Talk page
  • Post that outline on your own User Talk page, with an indication of what section or sections of it you will be working on
  • Go "live" with 250-400 words of your article by 13 March.
    • Remember to do your drafts of this piece and all others in your Sandboxes; comments by team members on each others' drafts should also be done in the Sandbox containing the draft. For example, if I'm drafting the section on Grey Owl's early life, I'll do that in my own Sandbox, and all my team members will make comments for its improvement there.

Week 11: Peer- and Self-Evaluation of Teamwork[edit]

15 March 2012
  • We will devote most this time slot to lecture on the course subject matter but...
  • I'll discuss how I'll be evaluating teamwork.
Assignment (due 22 March 2012)
  • Your first peer- and self-evaluation of teamwork is due by midnight, 22 March. Please e-mail the completed form to me (available on our VISTA course website)

Week 12: Responding to Feedback[edit]

22 March 2012

Week 13: Preparing for Presentations[edit]

29 March 2012
  • We will discuss what's expected for the in-class presentations which will be held next week.
Assignments (due 3 and 5 April)
  • Add final touches to you Wikipedia article based on the feedback you got from the peer review and your own sense of what needs to be done.
  • Prepare the in-class presentation.

Week 14: Presentations!![edit]

3 April and 5 April 2012
  • Both these sessions will be devoted to presentations. We'll hear from all twelve groups over two days and celebrate our hard work!
Assignment (due 10 April 2012)
  • You will finish all your work on your Wikipedia entry and submit your reflective essay by 5PM on 10 April. Yay! You made it!


This table lists the articles the class is working on. In some cases, we'll be writing a whole new article and in others we'll be adding and/or elaborating on an existing one. To give you a sense of the existing interest in the subjects you're writing on, I've included the projected traffic for the year 2012. These stats were generated 7 March 2012.

Team Members Article Projected Traffic
Columbia River Treaty

9148 page views/year

Bow River

29420 page views/year

Clayoquot Sound

15504 page views/year

W.A.C. Bennett Dam

12652 page views/year

Hell's Gate, British Columbia

16844 page views/year

Kenney Dam

4800 page views/year

Grey Owl

72176 page views/year

History of bison conservation in Canada

New article - no stats

Alpine Club of Canada

5272 page views/year

National Parks of Canada

30740 page views/year

J.B. Harkin

2212 page views/year


155580 page views/year

Trail Smelter Dispute

New article - no stats

Article banners

To mark each article the subject of a student project, add the following code at the top of the talk page for each article: {{ WAP assignment | course = Wikipedia:Canada Education Program/Courses/Present/North American Environmental History (Tina Loo) | university = University of British Columbia | term = 2012 Q1 | project = }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):

Grading *UPDATED* 8 March 2012[edit]

In light of time constraints and in the name of giving you more time to focus on writing your own articles, I've dispensed with Peer Evaluation of the articles. I also did so because the members of each team will be evaluating each member's contributions (which is a form of peer evaluation).

Your Wikipedia contributions will now be graded as follows:

  • 20% (4% each x 5): Participation grade for early Wikipedia exercises (due Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 14, Mar. 1, and Mar. 8)
  • 10%: Annotated Bibliography and Outline (due Mar. 1)
  • 5%: Presentation (either Apr. 3 or Apr. 5)
  • 65%: Quality of Wikipedia contribution, evaluated in light of reflective essay (due Apr. 10)

Links to Interesting Articles on Wikipedia[edit]

There's been a lot of discussion about Wikipedia in the media, and some writers raise some interesting issues that merit discussion. I will list articles here, and from time to time I will let you know which ones you should read in advance of one of our Thursday discussions about Wikipedia.

Julie Bosman, "After 244 Years Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses," New York Times 13 March 2012 (EB is portrayed as the victim of Wikipedia; the comments are great)

Timothy Messer-Kruse, "The Undue Weight of 'Truth' in Wikipedia" Chronicle of Higher Education 12 February 2012.

Ivor Tossell, "Here Come the Wikipedia Police", Globe and Mail 23 June 2006.