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In preparation for the activity a lecture is given on the properties and history of polychlorinated biphenyls and other contaminants. Each student is assigned to one of six groups with an interest in the outcome of the debate. The teams must meet and prepare a position paper on the proposed environmental dredging in the Upper Hudson River. Each team must represent the interests of its assigned constituency. Data and background information is found on the world wide web and from the instructor's collection of related articles. On the day of the debate the student's orally present their position paper (some make posters or powerpoint presentations). After each group has made their opening statement the invited guest senators on the panel (other faculty, myself, interested students, those who were absent for the preparation) ask each group a series of questions related to their stance. After this a general debate begins with detailed and sometimes heated discussions between the groups and the panel. A few moments are saved at the end of class and everyone is allowed to drop their assumed affiliation and speak their mind on what should be done. Before leaving the class is give a series of big picture topics to think about over the weekend and these are discussed during the next class.
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