Natural Capstone

Before you submit your 3 topic proposals and their accompanying outlines to this drop box, please be sure to read the assignment description and due dates. You will find these located in the list of module work. This is a way to focus our work throughout the course and although many of you may be unsure selecting a topic so early in the course you need the maximum amount of time to fully research this topic and write with analytic precision. By submitting 3 possible topics and working with your instructor to finalize your selection, you can target your writing projects in the intervening modules to support this topic. The work you do in this assignment will assist you in mastering the course/module outcome #3 and #5

3 Topic Proposals EACH 150 words in length then an outline of each with containing at least 4 academic references/resources

Your final paper should be 2500 – 3000 words in length (11-12- pages) excluding the title and references pages.

Since this is an eight week course it is critically important that you begin to think now about the final project you will write. The intervening module assignments will allow you to build a number of resources and portions of the project so that when you get towards the end of the course you will not be writing a 10-12 page paper from scratch in one week, but building on your previous work with added insights, analysis and an overall synthesis of ideas, themes and theories into a cohesive whole.

The final project will pull together elements from the modules, things you have learned in the course and prior learning experiences. Your final project should showcase your ability to demonstrate your mastery of these learning outcomes.

Upon completion of this course, you the student should be able to:

  • Interpret the central dogmas of at least two of the disciplines included in the natural sciences by defining the core theories and important discoveries that inform theses disciplines.
  • Schematize how the research and discoveries in one field impact the research and discoveries in another for at least two natural sciences disciplines.
  • Summarize the complex ethical dilemmas faced by scientists as they pursue research, examine how the research may impact individuals, communities, and society across the globe and provide solutions to these problems/issues.
  • Examine the interaction between the move towards a globalized human society and growing concerns with resource allocation and environmental integrity from the perspective of at least two of the disciplines included in the natural sciences.
  • Analyze and evaluate the natural science perspective on global issues such as biological diversity and cultural diversity in changing societies and present possible solutions from natural science perspectives.


Your 3 topic proposals need to focus on a major problem facing the scientists in the natural science fields that also has a major impact on the world at large. You should bring together at least 2 separate science disciplines in examining this problem. You can select a problem from those listed below and then identify a focused area of that larger problem or you can present you own idea of a problem to be explored. The list is here to help you get started and to give some examples of the types of problems and issues you should be examining. (See list below) You need to submit at least 3 proposals with brief outlines and references with at least 4 sources for each topic.

What this assignment will look like for EACH topic proposal:

  • Each topic proposal should have 150 words briefly describing the problem and what aspect you will explore.
  • Each topic should have a research question that your paper will address.
  • A brief bullet type “outline” addressing each of the “Problem Parameters below” for your topic selections
  • References in APA style

For the outline do not use complete sentences, just ideas and thoughts at this point!  Don’t write the paper now!

Remember that outlines are just the frame work for building the paper later. You organize what you know, think you know or want to know so your research can fill in the blanks and inform your thoughts.

When you submit these 3 proposals, your instructor to review them and give you feedback and help you select the best one to work on as your final paper. It will be helpful to propose topics from more than one “major problem or issue” area so you have a wider range of options.

You must use an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the scientific parameters of the problem and solutions.

Examples of an interdisciplinary approach would include Biology and Geology, but not Geology and Hydrogeology; these are too closely related to be separate disciplines. When in doubt, ASK! Your topic proposals need to be clear and precise. Identify clear specific points to state the topic and address EACH of the following parameters in at least one or two sentences in each of the 3 proposals.

The “problem parameters” you will include in your final paper and identify for your outline in this assignment are:

  • How did the problem arise?
    • This includes a historical perspective and what has changed over time in the perception of this issue as a problem? Was it always perceived as a problem or only more recently and why?
  • Why is it a problem?
    • Most things are not totally evil and so what are possible benefits, short or long term could come from this issue?
    • How do different people and different scientists weigh these different perspectives?
  • Who is impacted by this problem?
    • Compare and contrast the impact on developed and under developed countries.
    • Has there been a lack of diverse voices in examining and appreciating the importance of this problem?
  • How are these groups impacted by this problem?
    • Is the impact felt as something in an economic, social, resources or political areas or something else?
    • Are there differences in the impact on different socio-economic groups, races, ethnicities or other segments of the population?
    • Is the impact particularly confined to one country or multi-national?
  • What two science disciplines will you use to frame this problem and the possible solutions offered by these two disciplines? Why are you selecting these two?
  • You may create more of these “Parameters” depending on your problem. This is a first step in outlining your project so more thought and effort now will make it easier later on.

Table describing major problems or issues in the field of natural science and possible topics you may decide upon for your paper.

Major problems or issues More targeted areas to explore in your paper
Climate Change the rising levels of the oceans, destruction of the coral reefs, CO2 content and recharge capacity
food production, changing patterns of desertification,  ties in with growth of human population, demand for space and loss of biodiversity
What can be done and will it be enough to stem the tide? How can scientists and politicians around the world work together on this? Why do the American people (in particular) view climate change skeptically while other countries do not?
Pollution/Recycling/Waste Water – some say that fresh drinking water will be the oil of the 21st century. Examine the fresh potable water issues in the U.S. and around the globe.
Air – heath issues and industry’s needs to produce their products we all depend on creates a conflict, include information on new research on fine atmospheric particles, secondary organic aerosols
Industrial toxins, heavy metals, mining, Nuclear/radioactive waste
Developed countries, the disproportionate volume of technology waste, plastics, and nuclear waste
Biodiversity Plants, food sources and sustainability (this will overlap with population issues) The loss of biodiversity – is it inevitable and how important is it to maintain biodiversity in the face of starvation and over growth of the human population? Are we facing the 6###sup /sup### extinction?
Population Disparity in use of resources, technology access vs. national or international control mechanisms between developed, developing and under developed countries. What is fair, equitable and sustainable use of natural resources?
The interface of humanity and science Indigenous peoples, environmental preservation, sustainability and economic opportunity. Can we have both?
Genetic modification of food crops. Is this the next green revolution or a template for disaster? Should it be banned or regulated? How does the interaction of agri-business and politics benefit and/or harm the farmer in both the developing and under developed countries?
Natural Hazards How do we respond to these and how do we predict them? How can scientific researchers alleviate the suffering and death or can they? Earthquakes, fire, hurricanes, floods, droughts, (you will need to bring in climate change as a factor, unequal distribution of resources, over population, over farming and grazing etc in examining these issues)
Natural Resources & Energy Limited resources, growing demand, balancing the current and future needs, alternative energy and fossil fuels in the developing world, hydro fracturing, coal and oil can be explored. Can science give the world enough cheap, reliable renewable resources for fuel and energy before we run out of fossil fuels?

The requirements for the Module 2 Topic Proposals stops here!

The following items about the final paper are for your information and to guide you in selecting a great topic that can sustain your interest for the next 8 weeks.What you’ll need to include in your final paper:

  • How both the disciplines contribute to possible solutions
    • How these perspectives differ and are similar
  • Identify at least 2 possible solutions to the problem:
    • What are the pros and cons of each – include feasibility, cost and willingness of countries, peoples, or other stakeholders as indicated to participate in the solutions
    • Have these been attempted in pilot studies or a small scale? What were the results?
    • How did the two disciplines you selected contribute to these solutions?
  • What has to change for this problem to be alleviated, or can it ever be alleviated?
  • What are your suggestions for the best possible solution given the parameters you’ve outlined?

Additional ideas can be developed using the Biology Research Guide



Use APA citation guidelines. If you need assistance, please refer to these resources:EC Library resources to properly cite your work:

Before you submit this assignment to the dropbox below, be sure to upload a copy to the “Final” dropbox for this assignment on  A “Draft” dropbox is also available so that you can use the originality report provided as a learning tool to improve your work prior to final submission.

Participation in this assignment is part of your overall grade and will be assessed according to the rubric linked below. This topic proposal and outline is worth 5% of your total grade and will be graded using the SLA Outline and Thesis Rubric [67 KB PDF file].

Let me know which of these links you would like me to provide if any.

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