In the latter portion of the course we are going to consider a number of contemporary issues in international relations. Some of them are extremely broad (international political economics, war), others are just somewhat extremely broad (nuclear proliferation, terrorism). Either way, we are only going to scratch the surface of these issues. I would like to give you an opportunity to dig a little deeper into some issue in contemporary international relations. In this assignment I ask you to pick a topic of interest – it could be something like a specific event (a war between two countries, a nonmilitary conflict like Iran’s potential nuclear weapons, etc.) or something broader but thematic (global warming, the COVID pandemic). The key is going to be picking a topic that is narrow enough to deal with in an 2000-2500 word paper (that’s roughly 8 to 10 pages). The topic mus be contemporary. That means it must involve events that have happened after 1989. Once you have your topic, you should use the paper to answer the following questions about it:
1) Give a BRIEF summary of your topic. What are the major relevant details about the subject? This should be NO MORE THAN 750 WORDS. That’s why you need to narrow your topic before you sit down to write your paper.
2) Are there any relevant international agreements about your topic? Has the United Nations or other IGO’s dealt with your topic? What NGO’s are active in this area and what are their goals?
3) Who are the (most) relevant countries? What are their interests or goals as regards your topic? Go beyond just restating what you said in Question 1.
4) Analyze your topic from a realist and liberal perspective. How would each approach explain the way countries and individuals have behaved in your topic?
5) What is the future of your topic?
You can choose from the list below or choose your own. A list of possible topics might include: relations between South Korea and North Korea, relations between the US and Cuba, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Iran (or North Korea) and nuclear proliferation, Brexit, NAFTA/USMCA, Security Council reform, anything to do with the recent 2008 economic crisis (i.e. not domestic) such as the European debt crisis, the COVID pandemic, cybersecurity, global poverty, development in the global South, AIDS or any other epidemic (but focus on the international relations of it and not the science), the looming demographic crisis in economically developed countries, immigration INTERNATIONALLY (i.e. not specifically about the US), water access, etc. As a reminder, it must be a contemporary topic, meaning it involves things that have happened since 1989 or later.
You can structure your paper any way you see fit, so long as you address the above questions. I would suggest breaking your paper down into an introduction in which you lay out what will be in the rest of the paper, five separate sections (each dealing with a question) and a conclusion, to match the attached rubric. Make sure to read the rubric at the end of the paper assignment for guidance on what each section should contain. Please note that you should not just write a five paragraph essay with each of the above questions being a paragraph. Generally each question should take you several/numerous paragraphs to answer.
The total length of the paper is 2000 to 2500 words. That is roughly 8 to 10 double-spaced pages with normal font and margins. Please put the word count on the front page of your paper. The word count does not include the works cited page. Pretty much every word processing program has a way of automatically counting words for you. If you are unsure how to do this, let me know and I will show you. Will I count all of your words to verify your total? Probably not. Unless you hand in something that is clearly not the length listed on the front page. I know most people start out by aiming for the minimum number of words, but given the scope of this paper topic you will likely have no difficulty meeting the word count. While you will lose points for being under 2000 words, if a paper has less than 1500 words it will automatically fail the assignment.
I am asked pretty much every semester some version of the question “how many sources does my paper need to have?” This is a weird question to me, since the honest answer is “how ever many you need to write a good paper”, but I get why students ask it. A little guidance is always a good thing. Let me say this, then. It would be very hard to do well on this paper with less than five academic sources (i.e. not Wikipedia, Investopedia, and other encyclopedic sources). You probably will want more than that, but at a minimum I’d be aiming for that. Once you hit five sources that doesn’t mean you are done doing research – if three of your sources are all about one part of the paper then you’re going to need more in total to write a compelling paper.
You should be using academic sources for this paper. That means that while you can consult Wikipedia as a start, you should be using additional sources, possibly including global newspapers, scholarly books and journal articles and government websites. If you are going to use web-based sources, make sure (as always) to consider who the source of the website is. Are they credible? Do they have expertise? What’s their angle or bias? MAKE SURE TO USE IN-TEXT CITATIONS in your paper. I don’t particularly care what format they are (MLA vs APA vs Chicago) just so long as (a) you stay consistent in the paper and (b) I can figure out how to find each source myself if I so choose.
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