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Museum of the Anthropocene Lab

Background Reading

Here are some sources that have inspired us in creating this lab.  These links also contain the sources for charts and tables used in the labs.  You'll also find links for the Planetary Boundaries framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals below. 

Getting Started: What is your object made of?

Many of you will have picked objects with several components-- sneakers, for example, often include leather or cloth, rubber, perhaps metal grommets, etc.  As you look at your object, think: what materials are put together to create your object?  Start with by listing broad categories: metal, cloth, plastic, wiring.  

Next, try to get more specific in one of the following ways: 

  • If your item has a tag that lists materials, you're set! Move to the next step
  • If you know the name/manufacturer of your item, try doing a search for the manufacturer and item to see what you can find
  • Wikipedia will often list components of items. 

Gather background information on a component of your object

Before you start digging too much, take a moment to look up your object in Gale Ebooks (below).  Gale encyclopedia articles will give you context that you can use to connect your object to the Planetary Boundaries or Sustainability Development Goals (below) as well as a summary of the issue. 

Try searching for your object and environment (such as T-Shirt and environment.)

Also try focusing on one of your object's components and focusing on the environmental impact of its production, consumption, or waste in the environment.  (For example, your T-Shirt might be made of cotton and rayon.)

Connect your object to the planetary boundaries

Now that you have an initial sense of some of the environmental impacts of your object, continue by studying the Planetary Boundaries linked below. How does the creation of/ acquisition of/ production of, or disposal of your object (or your component) violate the Planetary Boundaries? 

Now deepen your research

Take a moment to look through the titles and catalog below.  What more can you learn about your component part from a book?  You can start with one of the titles below or do a general catalog search.

Look for more information in databases and websites

Now, that you've identified possible goals and boundaries, start digging through the catalog, databases and websites below.   

Use your initial research to try changing your keywords.  For example, in the initial T-shirt example, your keywords might be cotton and fertilizer or rayon and waste.

Try searching for your keywords in conjunction with Planetary Boundaries or Sustainability Development Goals as well.   Here, for example, you might search for Fast Fashion and poverty

If you do find a result in that you can't find in full-text, you can contact reference ( to ask for help in locating the full article or check Journal Locator to see if we have the article in full-text in a library database, 

Final Steps: Gather missing information and suggest a solution

Refer to your research: what solutions can you suggest to make the acquisition of, creation of, production of, or disposal of your item (via its component) more sustainable?  Use the Sustainable Development Goals (linked below) to explain what and why we might make changes to any of the above steps. 

Evaluating Information

While you're searching for information on your topic, you want to take time to decide if the information (either website, article, or podcast) you find is trustworthy.

When it comes to science, nearly everyone has opinions: should we be labeling genetically modified food for consumer's awareness? What will fracking do for our economy or our groundwater supply? Your job is to evaluate the information you can find through Google to find the good information sources--those written by authors you can trust, with good and up-to-date information.

Authorship: Who created this website? What is their background on the topic? Are they trustworthy?

Bias: Why was the website created? What point of view does the author have? Does that limit the facts they present or how the facts are presented?

Date: How old is the information that is presented? Is it still accurate?

Citations : Does the author seem to consult good sources of information?  For example, do they refer to good sources of information, whether statistics from a governmental source, or interviews of experts, or do they state vague generalities not much supported by other data?

Questions? Check out the COD Library's guide to evaluating information.

Presenting Your Work: Scientific Posters/Infographics

If you are asked to create a poster, slide, or infographic to summarize your research, you'll want to choose the information you display carefully.  Think about the story that your poster, slide, or infographic tells about your object/the information you found.  Use text sparingly, and make sure any images that you use are clear and thoughtfully chosen to support your research about your object.

Note that the typical poster headings (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion) won't work for this project.  What headings should you choose for your poster/slide/infographic in order to tell your research story?

Want more information?  Take a look at the links below: 

You can also find examples of scientific infographics and posters in Google Images.  Take a moment to look through your results.  Which examples do you like and why? 


Want some more concrete help with citations? Try the following: 

Want software to create citations for you? Check out the database below:

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  • Last Updated: Apr 15, 2024 3:35 PM
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