research process in the digital age


Research a Modern Environmental Disaster

Think of the following as a recipe or a checklist for success in finding and understanding an environmental disaster that you can use in your final paper on the Epic of Gilgamesh. You do not have a lot of time, so work through the following steps.

  1. Read the Wikipedia article about the specific disaster you choose. Make a bookmark to the URL. Read it two or three times to be sure you understand.
  2. Gather core facts about the disaster: where, when, why, who, what, how.
  3. Write a summary sentence about the essentials of the story. Expand that to a paragraph as you learn more.
  4. Read three other stories about your disaster.
  5. Identify four or five possible parallels between the story of Gilgamesh and your news story. Some possible examples include:
    1. Government corruption (Gilgamesh not obeying his own laws)
    2. Environmental damage (Humbaba killed, forest cut)
    3. Mistreatment of natives (Uruk’s fears about Gilgamesh)
    4. Damages paid to wrong ‘victim’ (Enkidu’s door for Enlil’s temple)
    5. Personal irresponsibility (Gilgamesh abandoning Uruk)
    6. Intention to corrupt (Gilgamesh sending Shamhat to Enkidu)
    7. Clear warnings of the danger (Enkidu’s warnings to Gilgamesh)
    8. Other
  6. Use Google Image Search to find 10-30 photographs, diagrams or maps to help you understand your chosen disaster more effectively.
  7. Use the iTunes store to search for relevant podcasts or iTunesU classes.
  8. Use the video catalog to search for video coverage of your event.
  9. Keep a file in MS Word or on your desktop of information, photographs, and URLs. Review this material regularly as you plan your paper.
  10. Identify specific places in the text of Gilgamesh which may relate to your environmental disaster, by both page and line number.

Remember that Gilgamesh and Enkidu are not just an ancient buddy-movie; they are also symbolic, in this paper, of humanity’s relationship with our environment. This means that it is acceptable to explain their stories as archetypes of human experience. Enkidu evolves from beastliness to humanity; Gilgamesh progresses from cruel tyranny to diligent leadership; they both use their friendship to destroy Humbaba (here representing nature) for glory and profit.

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