Comparative Politics Second Term Essay
Comparative Politics Second Term Essay Assignment (Worth 20% of Final Grade):
Due Date: March 8
Assignment : Answer one of the questions in essay format complete with a separate cover page and list of references. The essay must be typed, with normal margins, size-12 font, double-spaced, and stapled (please no paper clips). Be sure to include all the necessary information on your cover page (name, class number, essay title if desired, essay question number, student number, and date). The essay must be at least 8 pages long and no longer than 10 pages.
You are expected to do your own research and provide references for any factual information used to support your arguments. You are also expected to use no less than 5 peer-reviewed sources in your essay. You can certainly use more sources to supplement your work (and I would heavily suggest that you do so). These sources must come from scholarly journals, published books, or anything of an equivalent legitimacy (NO WIKIPEDIA!!). Hint: use the likes of online databases like JSTOR to find relevant journal articles and books. You may use your textbooks or lecture notes if desired; however they will not count towards your 5 required sources.
You can use any writing and citation style, so long as it is concise and includes the necessary information. Be as accurate as you can with your citations, and make sure you cite you work properly. Regardless of your style, I want page numbers (and even paragraph numbers if page numbers aren’t available) for relevant citations. Less-leniency will be provided for a lack of sources for claims in this assignment.
Your own unique contribution to the essay is essential. Do not simply quote passages from the reading material or provide a descriptive summary of the literature. Be skillful in how you decide to approach the issue; what research you aim to use, and how you aim to utilize it; and make sure you argue your claims in an effort to persuade your reader (don’t assume your reader is naturally on your side).
1. The United States has such high levels of political polarization that it arguably hinders its role as an example for other liberal democracies to follow. Do you agree with this sentiment? Examine and compare another country’s experience with political polarization, and its effect on its democratic measures, society, and the ability to serve as an example for other democracies to follow.
2. Germany and Japan have unique defensive-minded mandates for their militaries following their actions in World War II. What role should the German and Japanese military have in the contemporary international realm? Is it time each pursued the ability to exercise their military-force akin to that of other sovereign, developed democracies? Does their history forfeit this right? Have they moved passed the need to operate an offensive military presence in the world?
3. France and the United States have been allies for a very long time. Despite the common economic ties and democratic ideals shared between both countries, there resides a great deal of negative sentiment towards one another. What are the sources for these perceptions? Is it likely that these feelings will have an impact on these countries continuing their alliance into the future?
4. Germany’s electoral system is often touted as being one of the most effective models in incorporating proportional representation. Do you agree with this statement? Explore Germany’s system in relation to another country of your choice, and make a claim as to whether or not you feel that a Germany-style system is perhaps one of the best models to export to other countries looking to establish PR measures.
5. Japan’s mercantilist economy provided an economic boom for many years. However it also resulted in recent levels of stagnation that Japan has yet to emerge out of. Compare Japan’s economic approach to that of France, and whether there is merit to having such levels of government intervention in a capitalist economy in the contemporary era, or if this design is a hindrance to one or both of these countries.
6. Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, the military response in Georgia, and the annexation of Crimea suggest that Russia is striving to reassert control over former areas of its influence, or is perhaps just taking measures to protect its sovereignty (depending on your prerogative). What do you make of this behaviour by Russia? Compare this case with a relevant one from the contemporary era or recent history, and explore the rationale and legitimacy in this behaviour.
7. The United Kingdom has an interesting relationship with many of its former colonies; some retain a positive and strong connection to the UK to this day. Explore the UK’s colonial experience in relation to another colonial power, and touch on what factors stand out with both cases (namely how the UK has managed to maintain not only this sort of relationship with many of its former colonies, but how it has also retained influence). Use one specific colony for each in your study; more than one can technically be used but it might diffuse your focus too much.
8. The United States’ role as the single global-superpower is arguably diminishing. Other countries like China, Russia, and India, as well as the EU are challenging the position of the United States in the international arena. Do you agree with this sentiment? Explore this phenomenon and provide an assessment for the United States, while also analyzing it alongside one of the aforementioned actors and its prospects for becoming a greater superpower.
Your essay will be assessed on the quality, depth, and use of your research; your ability to present a well-reasoned and empirically valid argument; and the coherence of your writing. A poorly written paper with multiple mistakes will not make an intelligent and persuasive argument. Thus spelling and grammar are essential elements to your overall grade for this assignment.
Consider the following with your essay:
1. How thoroughly did you engage the issue? Were you able to avoid major criticisms to your work that undermined your argument? Did you do enough research on this issue to not only construct a meaningful discussion, but also to adequately demonstrate to your reader your knowledge on this topic?
2. How well did you articulate your position? Did you carry your thesis effectively and clearly throughout the entirety of your paper?
3. Were you precise with your wording and word-choice; did you avoid using too many words to get a point across? Did all of your statements serve a purpose? Did any phrases or statements not only fail to serve a key purpose, but where they possibly detracting to your argument and/or its flow?
4. Is it cleanly written and proof-read? Is it free of spelling mistakes, awkward sentences, and claims that are not relevant?
6. Note academic regulations on plagiarism and cheating; it is your job to reference all of your work accurately and effectively. Are any claims that are not general knowledge requiring a source to substantiate them?
Late assignments will be penalized by 5% for each day they are late (not including weekends). No extensions will be permitted unless illness (which a doctor’s note must be provided) or extraordinary circumstances (which must be discussed with me in advance). All assignments must be handed in at the start of class on the due date or earlier. Any submissions after class will be considered late. All students are also expected to upload their final copy to UM Learn (under the assignments tab). This is not a submission area, as I will only be using the UM Learn database as a backup; you MUST hand in a physical copy on the due date or earlier. I repeat: don’t submit the assignment to UM Learn and assume I’ll check there first for your copy.
1. Start early. It is to your advantage to begin work early instead of leaving them due when you have multiple assignments due. Rushed work shows.
2. Talk to me about your paper before you turn it in. I can help highlight issues with your argument or sources early on, which will allow you the time to correct your writing beforehand. However, understand that I will NOT read rough drafts. I will be happy to talk with you about your thesis statement, and arguments in as much detail as you’d like, but I cannot “pre-grade” your paper (as that would be an unfair advantage to everyone else).
3. Understand both sides of the issue. To make a really persuasive argument, you need to not only explain your position but you must also effectively refute the opposite. To do that, you’ll need to fully understand both sides of the argument in question.
4. Structure and write your paper with purpose. Make sure your thesis statement is clear and to the point; don’t miss anything important out. In concluding your essay, simply restate your thesis statement to demonstrate how you accomplished your argument.
5. Avoid using “I” in your writing (if you must use “we”, you should instead indicate who it is that you’re referring to), and stating things as being “obvious”. Demonstrate your point through clear argumentation, and not assuming things are valid simply because they’re your opinion. You can assume that your audience is generally versed in the material, so you do not need to demonstrate basic concepts (unless it is somehow necessary for your argument).
6. It sounds trivial at this point for me to mention it, but PROOF READ your work! It is absolutely vital to not only re-read your work to catch potential errors in writing and argumentation, but also to find a fresh pair of eyes to do the same. See if you can find someone in class who’ll review your work and you can do the same for them.