• Class Number 3792
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Peter Kanowski
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
    • Alexander Van Der Meer Simo
SELT Survey Results

This interdisciplinary course draws on contemporary perspectives on current issues in the environmental sciences to explore evidence-based decision-making in the environmental sector. Researchers across the biophysical and ecological sciences provide exposure to contemporary theory, field methods and cutting-edge research and analytical techniques relevant to environmental decision-making. Frameworks for assessing environmental priorities, such as managing within planetary boundaries and the UNEP Global Environment Outlook, are used to explore key issues including  


  • freshwater systems 
  • biodiversity
  • sustainable land use (e.g. agriculture, forestry, soils, fire)
  • climate variability and change 


The course is structured as a series of intensive, small-group discussions based on preparatory reading. These intensive discussions are led by experts in the field and focus on exploring the most up-to-date research and thinking on each theme from a variety of perspectives, with particular emphasis on relevance to your experience and professional interests. Students are also expected to draw on the extensive and varied opportunities to learn from world-leading experts available at the Australian National University and across Canberra, by attending and reporting on relevant seminars, workshops and other forms of research communication external to the course. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand key current environmental issues and their implications across Australia and globally.
  2. Explain and apply contemporary theory and research methods employed in the environmental sciences.
  3. Source reliable contemporary scientific research findings across the environmental sector.
  4. Analyse and critique the scientific evidence base used for decision-making.
  5. Interpret and communicate research findings and their implications across the environmental sector for decision-makers.

Research-Led Teaching

The course comprises:

  • an introduction that frames ways of thinking about contemporary issues in environmental science;
  • case study seminars delivered by panels of leading researchers, on a range of contemporary environmental science topics;
  • a world cafe activity to share learning on case study topics;
  • skills development workshops (week 1 - for all students; subsequent weeks - open to all, required for those new to graduate study)
  • your participation in six 'complementary' activities (seminars, workshops, events), and reporting on those to the class.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment


Required Resources


Linked from the course Wattle site

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any information below that replaces what was published in the Class Summary for Semester 1, 2020 was approved by the Associate Dean Education (as is required after 10% commencement of a course). Where an activity or assessment is not referenced below, it remains unchanged.

Teaching Activities

  • Lectures were recorded or live-streamed and available through Wattle, not delivered in person. Lecture and seminar sessions were used in part for small-group seminars/tutorials, using Zoom. 
  • Tutorials were moved to online Zoom meetings.


Adjustments were made to assignment due dates; for details see the course Wattle site.

  • Conference presentation assessment was based on attendance of an academic, community-based or online activity, such as a lecture, seminar or workshop, that relates the general topic of or themes in ENVS8015.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction (week 1) and workshop Weekly learning journal entries commence; workshops commence
2 Weeks 2-5 Case studies, and workshops Weekly learning journal entries; workshops continue
3 Week 6 World Cafe activity World Cafe activity
4 Weeks 7-10 Case studies, and workshops Weekly learning journal entries; wworkshops continue
5 Weeks 11-12 "Conference" presentations "Conference" presentations

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Learning journal 35 % 04/03/2020 12/06/2020 1,2,3,4,5
World café pre-facilitation notes 15 % 01/04/2020 02/04/2020 1,2,3,4
“Conference” presentation 10 % * * 1,3,5
Literature ('state of knowledege') review 40 % 29/04/2020 26/06/2002 1,2,3,4,5
Skills development workshops 0 % 28/02/2020 * 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


You are required to participate in classes for Assessment Tasks 2 & 3 (Task 2 - 2 April; Task 3 - 21 or 28 May)

You are required to participate in Workshop 1 (week 1) 1 for Assessment Task 5; international students in their first semester of graduate study at ANU are required to participate in Workshops 2-5 (weeks 2, 3, 8 ,10). All students are welcome at Workshops 2-5.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 04/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 12/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Learning journal

Detail: The learning journal task is designed to help you connect your existing knowledge with information, concepts, ideas and issues associated with the course. The learning journal will help you to maximise your learning from the course by drawing upon what you have already learned through life and professional experience, other courses, and the classes and complementary activities of this course, by providing you with a structured way of recording and connecting your learning.

The learning journal is primarily a vehicle for reflection. Reflection means thinking critically, in the context of your experience and knowledge, about the ideas and information presented in the readings, presentations and discussion, and expressing your thoughts logically and concisely. Your reflections should demonstrate your engagement with the course material and your wider interests and goals. Reflections need to be analytical, not simply descriptive. Your journal entries need to demonstrate reflection to achieve more than a pass mark. 

Your weekly entry should average 300 words, excluding a list of sources. 

Your learning journal for the course concludes with a section of around 500 words in which you reflect on your learnings for the course as a whole, and their implications for your future work.

You can annex relevant material to each week’s entry if you wish; annexes are not part of the word count.

Value: 35% (15% for each of weeks 2-5 and 7-10, 5% for Conclusions). For week 1, submission of your Learning Journal entry is a course requirement; you will receive an indicative mark and feedback. This indicative week 1 mark will not be counted towards the total for this assessment item.

Please note there are multiple activities associated with this task with individual due dates:

Due: for weeks 1-5 and 7-10: the Wednesday evening following class; for Conclusions, 3 June.

Returned: week 1 - by 5 March; others - within 10 days of submission.

The marking rubric for each learning journal entry is:

  • only reports facts and/ or does not show evidence of reflection or reading: 50-59%
  • mostly reports facts and/ or show limited evidence of reflection and reading: 60-69%
  • some evidence of reflection/ critical thinking drawing from a range of sources and experience: 70-79%
  • insightful reflections/ critical thinking drawing from a range of sources and experience: 80-89%
  • outstanding reflections/ critical thinking drawing deeply from a range of sources and experience: 90-100%

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 01/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 02/04/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

World café pre-facilitation notes

Detail: A “World Café” is a style of small group discussions for a large group. Co-convenors host discussions on different topics at ‘café’ tables, for groups of 4-6; groups rotate among tables at specified intervals. We will use the World Café format to discuss a range of environmental science topics, drawing on material and reading covered in weeks 1-5. The number of topics (& “café tables”) and co-convenor groups, and structure and timing of the session, will depend on the numbers in the class. These details will be advised by 27 March.

You will prepare two individual set of topic notes for the café topic that you co-convene, ahead of discussion and agreement with your co-convenor(s) about conduct of your table discussion. 

You can think of the first set of notes as being similar to the Abstract in an academic journal paper, although much of them can be in dot point format. The notes should comprise:

  • a paragraph summarising the background to the topic area;
  • 7-10 dot points identifying the key points for discussion, with brief explanatory notes.

The second set of notes outline your thinking about how to conduct the café table discussion. They should outline the roles of the facilitators, how you will structure the discussion, and what you will expect of participants, including any reading/ watching you are going to assign in the session. You should list these as dot points.

Value: 15% for notes (7.5% each); CRS for co-facilitation on 2 April

Please note there are multiple activities associated with this task with individual due dates:

Due: notes - 1 April; co-facilitation 2 April

Returned: within 10 days

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,5

“Conference” presentation

Detail: This assessment item is a means for you to communicate the learnings from your participation in events complementary to the class. These complementary events may be academic or community-based lectures, seminars or workshops. You are required to participate in a minimum of 6 such events, or equivalent, during semester. 

This assessment item requires you to report on 3 of these ‘complementary events’ in a single 10 minute presentation in the last fortnight of the course.

The item is called a “conference” presentation because it’s similar to many that you might give at a conference; it’s also similar to the report back you might provide to colleagues in a workplace after attending a conference at which you attended multiple presentations.

Like the Learning Journal, the task is not to repeat detail, but to synthesise the key points and learning across your choice of 3 seminars (or equivalent). Those who provide a more coherent synthesis across the events will be marked more highly than those whose narrative is disjointed. You will be provided with an example.

You should speak to visuals (Powerpoint, Prezi, or something else of your choice), but the visuals should support and highlight your points and narrative rather than simply being a ‘dot point’ version of what you say. The general rule is to have no more slides than the number of minutes available for your presentation.

Value: 10%

Due: either 21 or 28 May

Returned: within 10 days


5 marks for content (including coherent linking of different seminars); 5 marks for presentation and delivery

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 29/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 26/06/2002
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Literature ('state of knowledege') review

Detail: A ‘state of knowledge’ review is a thorough literature review that provides an overview of a particular topic area; it focuses on assessing the current state of knowledge, but with reference to earlier foundational work as appropriate. You are required to research and submit a review of 3000 words. The word count excludes the reference list, but includes in text referencing. You must use the Harvard Referencing style.

Your review must include a minimum of 15 peer reviewed journal articles or the equivalent, such as edited book chapters, although you are encouraged to have more. The articles will normally have been published in English. At least 10 of these articles must have been published in English in the last four years.  You can also include less authoritative sources such as websites and media articles, where relevant, but these are additional to the peer review articles. 5% of the assessment weight is assigned to submission of a list of these articles, a first draft of which must be submitted by 29 April.

Your review should follow the format of a typical ‘state of knowledge’ review article (you will be referred to examples), with a clear and logical structure that includes an Abstract, begins with an Introduction, and ends with a Concluding section that discusses the broader implications of your review findings.

Value: 40% (5% of which is for a list of 15 appropriate papers)

Please note there are two activities associated with this task with individual due dates.

  1. List of papers due: 29 April;
  2. Review due: 12 June.

Returned: Within 2 weeks


Structure & logic /10

Scope & content/20

Quality of writing/5

Reference list/5

Assessment Task 5

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 28/02/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Skills development workshops

Detail: The Skills Development Workshops assist students to develop their skills relevant to the assessment tasks.

All students are required to participate in Workshop 1 (week 1) and welcome at all workshops; all international students new to graduate study at ANU are required to participate in Skills Workshops 2-5 (weeks 2, 4, 8, 9).

Workshop 1 overviews the assessment in the course and how we expect ANU graduate students to approach learning and assessment.

Workshops 2-5 address each of Assessment Tasks 1-4, respectively.

Value: Course Requirement Satisfied.

Due: Weeks 1, 2, 4, 8, 9

Returned: Not applicable

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission is not permitted for assessment tasks 2, 3 and 5. A mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission is permitted for assessment tasks 1 and 4. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned through Wattle and/or email to your ANU email address.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There is no provision for resubmission of assignments.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Peter Kanowski

Research Interests

Peter Kanowski's ANU researcher page

Prof Peter Kanowski

Thursday 18:00 19:00
Alexander Van Der Meer Simo

Research Interests

Alexander Van Der Meer Simo

Thursday 09:00 10:00

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