Policy Critique


OENG1041: Ethics, Policy & Law for Environmental Engineering


Assignment 1: Policy Critique

A formal Policy – of any description – should describe a set of goals that are desirable, and provide a clear outline of measurable targets and actions. For this assignment, a relevant policy should be found, read carefully and well justified critique developed. As part of this critique, it is expected that students will have read relevant texts (e.g. Thomas or similar) as well as some journal papers which help to ground their critique in the underlying scientific issues and the political and policy context at play. A great critique helps to justify WHY whether something is good or bad – not merely saying it’s fine, but it should help a reader to understand the bigger picture, relate the scientific issues and human values at play and clearly explain whether this specific policy helps (or not). A bad critique merely repeats the claims from a bad policy without any independent thought or evidence to justify such claims.

Overall Approach:

Find a policy relevant for an Environmental Engineering graduate – this could be a specific company (e.g. mining, petroleum, chemicals, construction, etc.), RMIT or another university environmental (or sustainability) policy, government policy (e.g. energy, water, waste, etc), community group (e.g. NGO, EWB, etc.) – basically any relevant environmental (or sustainability) policy !! Next, do some background reading and research related to your policy, such as the Thomas textbook or many similar texts as well as journal papers or research reports relating to the policy area. Finally, write up your critique !

Key Assessment Criteria:

  • Thorough background research – every student should ensure their critique demonstrates sound knowledge of their policy area, through reading and possible citation of the main text (or similar texts) as well as use of journal papers and other relevant credible sources (e.g. Wikipedia is RARELY EVER A RELIABLE SOURCE !!!).
  • Clearly Expressed and Logical Critique – the critique should be presented logically, well written and presented in a professional layout (including correct use of citations).
  • Critique Length – whilst there is no specific length, the critique is expected to be between 5 to 10 pages. The emphasis must be on quality of thinking, arguments and evidence – and of course professional presentation !!