Assignment Descriptions


Attendance and participation: 20%. Attendance is mandatory; come prepared to participate in discussion. Quality of class participation is emphasized over quantity.  The participation includes a weekly entry in one of the three central question forums on the “courses” moodle.  Please enter a short quote from the reading with a comment about what you agree or disagree with about the quote.

First Short Paper (5-7 pages) – Position Paper: 15%.  Write an opinion piece detailing your own ideas about the various social science theories governing the human causes of famine.  You may either respond directly to one writer or try to chart a course between several.  If you are taking issue with a writer from the 19th century, be aware of the modern adaptations of their ideas.  No outside reading is required, although you may consult the additional bibliography.  Assessment will be based the quality of your response to the topics in the reading as well as on your attention to editorial detail. Write grammatically and please proofread your paper for errors.  Suggested questions: Do demographics matter?  How much influence does the economy have on food shortage?  How does political and economic freedom differ?  Based on these theories, how would you set famine policy for a developing country?  An industrial nation?

Second Short Paper (4-5 pages) – Final Essay Description: 10%. See the Research Project Description page for more information.

Third Short Paper (5-7 pages) - Response Paper: 15%  From the readings on the experience of famine, write a short response investigating what appear to be common experiences of food shortage and hunger.  You may respond to a single narrative we read, or to a set of readings, or write something more general about what you think are some of the defining features of famine as experienced by the starving.  As an alternative paper, if you yourself have an experience of persistent want or extreme hunger, you may also write a more imaginative or introspective piece about the place of shortage, hunger, and want, in your life today.

USAID Report (2 pages):  5%.  Pretend you are a junior staffer at USAID.  Your boss has asked for advice in responding to a current food shortage sub-saharan Africa (either pick a specific country or use an imaginary one).  Use the theories we have studies in class in crafting your response, paying particular attention to the modern question of demography and global overpopulation.  Write your essay in the form of a policy memo, so be to the point and brief. 

Alternative: Revise your first short paper based on my comments.  You can raise the grade of the first paper up to 2/3 of a grade (ie: from a B to an A- or from a C+ to a B) and your grade for this second assignment will be based on the quality of your revision.  I will discuss this more in class.

Final Research Paper Outline, Presentation, and Essay: See the Research Project Description page for more information.

Last modified: Monday, December 31, 2012, 11:02 PM