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PSCI 221: Soil & Water Conservation: Home


This Library Guide was updated in 2022 for students in Professor Greenwood's PSCI 221 course. The tabs on this guide provide information and links to resources intended to help with the major research assignment on a soil or water conservation topic.

Assignment Requirements

  • a minimum of 6 references, at least 3 of which must be from peer-reviewed literature (also known as scientific/scholarly/academic journals). The other references should be from credible sources such as scholarly books, government agencies, or university extension sources.
  • an annotated bibliography
  • a paper approximately 3-5 pages in length (12 point font, double spaced)
  • in-text citations and a reference list following the Northeastern Naturalist style guide
  • a ten-minute presentation using Microsoft Powerpoint

Paper Topic Ideas

Examples of appropriate topics (you don’t have to use one of these – just to give you a feel for the types of topics you might consider): 

  • Use of riparian buffers to decrease phosphorus runoff 
  • Conservation tillage programs 
  • Indicators of soil health 
  • Example of Sustainable forestry practices (find a good example to discuss) 
  • Discussion of a particular type of water pollution or a specific issue (like the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, plastic in the oceans, plastics in freshwater, pharmaceuticals, etc.) 
  • Bioremediation of either soil or water 
  • Forest restoration projects in the tropics (focus on one) 
  • Impacts of salinity on soil 
  • Improved forms of renewable energy production 
  • Desalinization as a source of freshwater 
  • Use of domestic gray water systems 
  • Discuss an influential figure in the history of soil and water conservation:  Hugh Hammond Bennett 
  • Discuss the history of soil conservation legislature; laws, policies and regulations that were passed to protect soil or water 
  • Discuss the history of the NRCS 
  • Discuss an example of a past/present situation that resulted in soil or water depletion or contamination and lessons learned and/or restoration efforts associated with it: 
  • Ogallala aquifer depletion in the U.S. 
    • Yellow River in China – pollution and changes in agriculture 
    • Depletion of the Nile River and water crises downstream 
    • Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico 
    • Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 
    • Dust Bowl of the 1930’s in the U.S. 
    • Soil erosion on the Ethiopian famine 
    • The Land Institute (development of perennial wheat varieties) 
    • Tall grass prairie restoration 
    • Florida Everglades restoration 
    • Oil palm plantations and their impacts on a particular location or organism (i.e orangutan)