POLS 1500: Themes in Global Politics Ohio University, Dr.Brandon Kendhammer

Writing To Learn Prompts

Prompt #1 (Due Monday, September 21):

Imagine for a moment that you represent one of the following parties in the current Eurozone crisis and its surrounding political debate...

-The German chancellor (Angela Merkel)
-The Greek prime minister (right now, it's Vassiliki Thanou, but subject to change...)
-An ordinary Greek citizen
-An ordinary citizen from a Eurozone country that's also facing economic challenges (Spain, Portugal, Italy)

Knowing what we've discussed in class and read, what is your best-case scenario with regard to Greece's current debt crisis, and why? Similarly, what's your worst fear? What is your most reasonable course of action to achieve your best-case and avoid your worst-case, and what are your chances at success?

Please note that in order to fully answer this question, it might be useful to do a bit of research. You might begin with online editions of major international (New York Times, Guardian) newspapers and local news coverage (if you can find it in English), focused particularly on finding information about what your chosen party has said about these issues publicly. And if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (from course readings or outside research), please include proper citations and a bibliography.

Prompt #2 (Due Wednesday, September 30):

In the readings we've examined by Friedman, Lindblom, Hacker/Pierson, Warren, Becker, and Posner, we get very different perspectives on the question of what government's responsibility ought to be towards the economic choices of its citizens. But while we've mostly focused on an issue (home ownership) that affects the majority of you indirectly, there's a related one that impacts nearly all of you--student loans. Using the arguments and perspectives offered by our authors, what role do you think the U.S. government ought to have in protecting students who take out loans to pay for education? Should the responsibility to borrow responsibly fall entirely on the student, or should the government play as large or even a larger role than it currently does in helping students to borrow (and pay back) their education debt?

Please note that to fully answer the question, it may be useful to do some outside research on the issue of student debt. One good place to begin is the CFPB's own website (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/). Again, if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (course readings or outside research), please include proper citations and a bibliography.

Prompt #3 (Due Monday, October 19):

In this essay, your job is to apply what we've learned about why civil wars and other forms of mass communal violence tend to happen in some places and not others to a new case. Using the (hugely exhaustive) list provided at this site (http://www.systemicpeace.org/warlist.htm), please choose a conflict and apply the lessons we've learned from Collier et al. to explain why conflict happened in this time and place. What were the roles of identity politics, of greed and grievance? And what sorts of factors made violence "feasible" in this particular instance?

Obviously, it will be necessary to do some outside research here. Google Scholar and JSTOR are good online sources for academic research on these conflicts, which will generally offer greater detail and more objectivity than other online references. Similarly, the last time I checked Alden Library still has over 3 million print resources available for your perusal; at least a few might be useful. As always, if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (course readings or outside research), please include proper citations and a bibliography. My guess is that you'll need to refer to at least 3-4 outside sources to effectively discuss your "case" of violence, in addition to any references to the sources we looked at in class.

Prompt #4 (Due Monday, October 26):

Given the lessons we've learned thus far about the challenges of making foreign aid an effective, positive source of change, it's time now to see if we can apply them to new cases. Using this list (Wikipedia, I know, but it's a good list...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_development_aid_agencies) as a starting point, identify an aid agency and a specific project or program that agency funds. Then, applying the tools of Sachs, Easterly, Riddell, and the others, make the case for this particular project as a "success" or "failure."

Obviously, outside research is going to be necessary. The websites of the various agencies will be the most important source, but news coverage (in the funding and recipient countries) might be helpful, too. You might also use Google Scholar and other databases to see if there's been any academic or think-tank analysis. As always, if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (course readings included), please include proper citations and a bibliography.

Prompt #5  (Due Monday, November 9):

For this essay, I'd like you to find and describe a real world example of the "tragedy of the commons" unrelated to climate change. In particular, I'd like you to consider what makes the situation you're examining a "commons," why the actions of the participants have/are leading to "tragic" (or at least bad) outcomes for all, and what (if anything) has been tried to solve the problem.

Per usual, you're going to need to do a bit of outside reading. As always, if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (course readings included), please include proper citations and a bibliography. My guess is that you'll need to refer to at least 3-4 outside sources to effectively discuss your "case,"  in addition to any references to the sources we looked at in class.

Prompt #6 (Due Friday, December 4):

If we've learned anything in this last unit, it's that communities are likely to face divergent challenges in addressing climate change and its human consequences. For this essay, I'd like you use our reading assignments as a jumping-off point to explore the sorts of issues your home community is likely to face with respect to climate change, and to do a bit of digging into how they're beginning (if at all to do so).

For American students, the various regional sections of the report we're reading in class will be a good start, but you might consider looking up information directly in your hometown (obviously, big city residents will find more online or in the local press, and small-town folks might even consider calling or emailing local and county planning offices) as well. For any international students, online research is again likely to be the most fruitful, as most countries have at least some sort of publicly available climate change planning work. As always, if you choose to quote or closely paraphrase any sources (course readings included), please include proper citations and a bibliography.