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WSE 390: Global Issues in Renewable Materials : Getting Started

This guide provides tips on using library resources for writing assignments related to renewable materials.

Course Description

Objectives:  This class will examine renewable materials in cultural and biological contexts.  It will examine what it means for a resource to be renewable, discussing ecosystem services, disturbance; resilience of ecological and economic systems; and impacts of resource extraction on human well-being.  We will then explore several current issues in resource extraction with an emphasis on issues that impact building materials. 

This course meets OSU’s Writing Intensive Course (WIC) requirement (part of the Baccalaureate Core required for graduation) and is designed for students in the Renewable Materials major. 

WSE 390 is a Writing Intensive (WIC) course and satisfies the WIC requirement for undergraduate Wood Science and Technology or Renewable Materials majors.  The purpose of a Writing Intensive course is for students to achieve competence as writers in the field of their major.  Students will do the following:

  1. Develop and articulate content knowledge and critical thinking in the discipline through frequent practice of informal and formal writing.  To be demonstrated through journals, in-class discussions, the formal report (in all its drafts), peer review and review by instructor, presentation, and final exa
  2. Demonstrate knowledge/understanding of audience expectations, genres, and conventions appropriate to communicating in the discipline.  To be demonstrated through in-class exercises, being a peer-reviewer, discussions on professionality, the letter to the librarian, the report, and presentation.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to compose a document of at least 2000 words through multiple aspects of writing, including brainstorming, drafting, using sources appropriately, and revising comprehensively after receiving feedback on a draft.  To be demonstrated the formal report (in all its drafts).

Students from other majors and graduate students who elect to take the course are expected to meet all course requirements, including writing.  However, this course may not satisfy the WIC requirement for majors other than Wood Science and Technology, and Renewable Materials.

The course is also designed to work on other skills that will be important to people in their personal and professional roles, including critical thinking, the image one projects, mentoring, and accepting criticism..  The class will give opportunities to learn about or be made aware of the importance of these skills and then to practice them with the other students. 

Information for Scheduling an Appointment

Please use this attachment to see times available for appointments to discuss your WSE 390 topic and information needed with the librarian/Bonnie Avery. Contact information is on the left side of this webpage.

  • Suggest more than one time slot if possible (they are listed as 15 minutes after the hour to allow you time to commute to the library, particularly if you  plan to meet October 24-28.
  • These usually take at least 30 minutes but I have scheduled for 45 minutes and if you want to come on the hour, the times can be extended to a full 60 minutes. 
  • I'll reply to you individually by email after I receive your email..
  • Please allow at least one week advance notice so that I have time to consider your project.

OSU Libraries on the Web

Be sure you can locate the the OSU Libraries Home Page and from there use the "FIND IT" tab to access these links:

Other useful links in the "FIND IT" menu:


Library Workshops and Webinars

E-Campus Webinar schedule 

Undergraduate Workshop Recordings: and Graduate & Faculty Workshop Schedule Offered on-campus, registration required (though anyone welcome).  Sessions are offered multiple times during the term. 


Library Handout

This handout gives a quite visual overview of the library website.

APA Format

The mark of a good bibliography is that someone on the other side of the world will be able to find the articles you read from the information you provide in your bibliography.  The burden is on you to be clear

American Psychological Association or APA publications require this format and it is one of the more common citation formats for the those writing in the social sciences.  Online help for using this format is provided at the links below.  

Technical Report Assignment (summary from syllabus)

This assignment has a number of sub-projects that will culminate in a written technical report and a brief oral presentation.

You will write a Technical Report to guide decisions on which of two materials or systems to use for a given purpose.  Your audience will want you to

  • introduce the report describing its purpose and how it is organized,
  • explain the two materials or systems and the use to which they will be put,
  • compare and contrast the suitability of the two materials or systems for this usage
  • compare and contrast the extent to which they are renewable (or “green”),
  • give recommendations and conclusions,
  • include citations,
  • guide the reader with an executive summary 

You will need to work hard at getting good information.  This task will include finding sufficient information, and then distinguishing between biased and unbiased sources as well as between primary and secondary sources.  You may need to go beyond the library and internet for some of your information, such as by phoning or writing to people working in these areas.

The following table contains ideas for topics but you can choose different ones. I suggest that one of the two materials or systems that you compare be relatively conventional, rather than having two novel materials or systems.  One of the two must use plant-based renewable materials.  This latter could make the paper harder to write.

Due Dates: 

  • Report Idea (10/10/11)
  • Request an appointment with librarian (between 10/12-11/11 - see syllabus)
  • Report with use and material (10/17/11)
  • Revised report with comparison of suitability of two materials (10/24/11)
  • Revised report with comparison of "relative greenness" of the materials, conclusions, recommendations (10/31/11)
  • Revised report with executive summary and email appointment with librarian's signature (11/28/11).


Materials or Systems

wood adhesives

phenolic-based vs. soy-based

pulp for paper

recycled vs. virgin

grocery bags:

plastic vs. paper

vanilla flavoring for cooking

genuine vs. made from Kraft pulping or from petroleum products (or other synthetic means)


wood vs. steel

residential siding

wood vs. cementatious (such as Hardiplank concrete—containing wood or cellulose fibers and cement)

utility poles

wood vs. fiberglass


laminated veneer lumber vs. solid wood


composite I beams (LVL and OSB) vs. either solid wood or steel


wood vs. a wood-plastic composite

wall construction

straw-bale (without wooden framing) vs. typical wooden framing

climbing ropes

sisal vs. synthetic

garden mulch

bark or other organic material vs. a synthetic alternative


tencel or hemp or bamboo textiles vs.rayon


wood vs. fiberglass