Critical Trends and Issues

The final essay takes its cue from the title of this course, “Critical Trends and Issues in the Contemporary World.” Your task in the final essay is to use at least three of the books that we have read for the semester to identify one critical trend or issue in the contemporary world and discuss its significance.

More specifically, you have three objectives in this paper: 1) identify a significant trend or issue in the contemporary world, 2) use the examples in the books to indicate why the authors believe this trend or issue is important, and 3) indicate how the authors of the books suggest we handle or address this issue for the future. Given the content of our books, it is most likely that the trend or issue that you identify will be a contemporary problem that needs a solution. But you may instead identify a trend or issue that is a positive development in our society. If that is the case, for the third objective, focus on how the authors suggest we preserve or expand this positive development.

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The Process

In order to successfully complete this essay, after finishing each book in the class, students are encouraged to write down a list of major issues that the book addresses. For example, in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, the list could read: women’s roles, government corruption, poverty, pollution, informal economies, class/caste conflict, etc. For each of the main issues that you identify, you may also want to make a quick note of specific examples from the book that address those issues. (Don’t forget to include page numbers so you can find it again when you are writing the paper later.)

Review your lists after each book, updating them if new ideas occur to you. Once you have finished all four books, use your lists to identify a trend or issue that appears in at least three of the books. You may find several, which will allow you to pick the topic that most interests you.

The Essay

The essay should be six to seven double-spaced pages and discuss at least three of the books assigned for our course. Your books should receive a similar amount of attention in your essay. In other words, it should be clear to the professor that you read all three books closely. If a book is mentioned only in passing or receives significantly less coverage than the other books, the professor will assume that the student did not read it or did not read it carefully.

This is a scholarly essay. It should be written in a scholarly tone and include the basic elements of a paper—an introduction, a thesis, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Your introduction should identify your chosen trend or issue (objective one, above). For your thesis, you want to identify why the authors believe the issue is significant and how the authors suggest the issue be addressed (objectives two and three, above). In other words, your thesis is not your opinion on the topic. Instead, it should focus on what you believe the authors are arguing in their books about your chosen topic.

Posted in the Assignments folder are two resources to guide your writing. The file “Paper Elements” discusses the basic elements of a history paper. There is also a writing guide that identifies and explains common mistakes made by students in their papers. You should consult the writing guide when composing and editing your paper. In general, students should NOT use the first person (I, me, we, us) or second person (you) in their essay responses.

Please use standard margins (one inch) and font size (twelve points). Your sources (the books that you are writing the essay about) should be cited, including in-text citations and a bibliography. You may use APA, MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style. In addition to the books, you may reference the video from Module One and the short readings from Module Two. These sources should also be cited. Lecture material can be used as well; it does not need to be cited. You are not permitted to consult any additional sources. Doing so will result in an automatic zero on the assignment. Papers will be submitted to to check for plagiarism.

Papers should be submitted via the Assignments section of Desire2Learn. Unless previous permission has been arranged, papers emailed directly to the professor will not be accepted. Late papers are accepted at the discretion of the professor, usually in the case of illness or emergency. In such cases, the professor may require documentation. Students should contact the professor within 48 hours (weekends included) after paper due date to arrange a make-up paper. The final essay is worth 80 points.


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