Research Project Description

The Final Project

The major work for this class will be an extended research paper that has several components and can take a variety of forms.  You will be required to turn in work during the semester that will help you prepare for this final essay, as well as discuss your findings with your classmates.  The pieces are as follows...

Second Short Paper (4-5 pages) – Final Essay Description: 10%. This essay should consist of a brief (one page) synopsis of the major events you are interested in and then several pages detailing the sources you will be using for your final paper.  For the various approaches to the final paper, see below.  The weekly assignments should give you some sense of how to locate sources; if you are having any difficulty, please see me for suggestions.  Again, please proofread.

Outline and Presentation of the Final research paper (in class): 5%. Be prepared to give a five to ten minute presentation of your final research project in class on the second to last day.  You may outline either the talk itself or your planned essay.  You may either write out your comments and read them or speak from notes (and if you are feeling saucy about it, you may make a video to have people watch prior).  Either way, please rehearse ahead of time for both length and clarity.

Final Research Paper (12-16 double-spaced pages): 35%.  The final essay will be due at the end of reading period; both hard copy and e-mail attachments are acceptable.  The research paper should focus on a limited or single theme from the class using primary documents to support a point of view.  There are several options for how to approach this paper:

1)    Pick a famine. The only restriction is that you cannot choose a famine covered in class.  There are plenty of famines left: Finland (1696-1697), Japan’s Tenpo Famine (1830’s), Ukraine (1932-3), China’s Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), Sudan (1986 or 1998), Ethiopia (1984 or 2002), North Korea (1997).  Using the documents available, does the famine illustrate one of the theories studied in the course?  Does it present a different possibility?  Is there a current scholarly consensus about the causes of the famine that could be challenged?

2)    Pick a particular technology or crop (the introduction of new crops can be described as a new technology) and trace its adoption into a new region.  Does the new technology or crop reduce or increase the risk of famine?  Are the conditions of adoption politically or socially governed?  Is the adoption willing or unwilling?  An example studied in class will be the potato in Ireland.  Other examples might include corn from the new world, the yucca root into Africa, the invention of heavy plowing, the green revolution or genetically modified crops (corn and soy in particular).

3)    Other topics are also possible: Do certain religions make particular assumptions about our relationship to the natural world and the nature of famine?  What would your policy recommendations be regarding the food supply in developing (or even developed) countries?  Are the causes of other human conflict (such as war) rooted in a demand for food rights?

Lastly, whatever topic you choose, make sure to meet with me to discuss your sources and method before the due date of the description during midterms.

Last modified: Thursday, December 27, 2012, 10:08 PM