August 23, 2007

POL 3235 Democracy and Citizenship - formal 1

The following writing assignment is designed to have you evaluate the relative merits and purpose of social contract theory and its potential application to contemporary democracy. Please choose one of the two following options.

Option #1:
Imagine that you are Jean Jacques Rousseau and you are writing a letter to John Locke (miraculously raised from the dead). In your letter explain what you have found useful in Locke’s Second Treatise to your own theory of a social contract. Then, explain why he would greatly benefit from being better acquainted with your own treatise, the Social Contract. In particular, justify why your own account of the social contract improves upon Locke’s account.

Option #2
Imagine that you are Alexis de Tocqueville and you are writing an op-ed article in the newspaper. A group of Americans are trying to revive the principles of Rousseau’s Social Contract and apply them to American society. This reading group turned social movement has quickly gained supporters. You want to apprise the reading public of both the potential gains and potential drawbacks of this fledgling movement. Having recently produced two large volumes on American democracy (Democracy in America) you cannot resist the opportunity to point out how your analysis provides a more accurate and useful account of the features that support American democracy and those that citizens need to protect against.
In your op-ed article, you will need to explain what changes the Roussean group is likely to propose based on Rousseau’s theory of the social contract. This will require explication of Rousseau’s most important concepts and evaluation of their potential effects. Given the rising popularity of this group it is important that you be fair to Rousseau’s arguments, but still critically assess them. Then you will need to explain how your own account provides a more accurate and useful account of American democracy.

Guidelines for BOTH options 1 and 2:
Your letter OR Op-ed must be 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12-point, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins all around. Number your pages and staple them in the upper left corner. Please do not put your paper in a binder of any kind. Proofread your letter OR Op-ed for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Keep a copy of your work for your personal records.
In writing your letter or Op-ed, be sure to address all parts of the question, drawing upon evidence, examples, and arguments from the texts. You must make use of the assigned readings to provide evidence to support your arguments. The more you are able to draw upon the readings, and the better you are to integrate them into clear coherent arguments, the better your grade will be. Cite title and page number of assigned readings when you refer to them. Essays that make little or no use of course material will receive a very poor grade. Remember that you are writing from the perspective of Rousseau OR Tocqueville so you may be making arguments with which you do not completely or even partially agree. You do not need to do any outside research to answer this question.

Democracy and Citizenship formal assignment 2

Download file

August 22, 2007

late semester paper assignment for a US foreign policy course

US foreign policy 1xxx level course, adapted from a 2005 assignment

Paper Assignment.

Evaluate the accuracy of the following statement:

“From reading the 9-11 Report and Cameron’s book one can better understand both the U.S. decision to overthrow Mossadegh in 1953 and how easy it would have been to prevent 9-11. Five books read in this course – Gaddis, Bacevich, Kinzer, Cameron, and the 9-11 Report – offer very similar ideas about the key ingredients for good or effective US foreign policy. The theme of all five is how US foreign policy changed as the world changed, but the most important insights are Cameron’s discussion of how loose and decentralized the policy process can be?.

Note: “evaluate? means to assess the accuracy of the claims in this statement about the five books it mentions.
Details of the assignment

• Due date is class on April 25. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade.

• Paper length is 9-10 pages, typed double space in arial or times new roman 12 font or the equivalent.

• Be sure to provide citations to specific pages of the 5 books to substantiate the points you make in the paper.

• An “A? paper assesses each of the statement’s claims about these five books; substantiates its conclusions about each claim with references to specific, relevant passages of specific books; and is presented with clarity that makes the paper easy to follow.

• In writing the paper assume your audience is someone who has read these books but has not yet decided what she or he thinks about the statement. That is where your insights come in.

Israeli-Palestinian course: two small, out of class writing assignments

Two possible writing assignments for the Palestinian-Israeli course

Version 1

“The Wittes volume asks whether Israelis and Palestinians do things in very different ways, and whether those contrasts of style reinforce the conflict between them. It answers neither question.?

Write a three page paper that evaluates this statement. “Evaluate? means to assess the accuracy of what the statement says about the Wittes book. Assume the audience for your paper is someone who is interested in the topic, genuinely wonders if the above statement is correct, and skimmed the book too fast to know whether this statement is correct or not.

The paper is due a week from today. Papers that receive “A? grades will be easy for the grader to understand, will accurately gauge how the statement relates to the book, and will support their argument with citations to specific pages of Wittes that are germane to assessing this statement.

Be sure your paper focuses on the claims of the statement.


Version 2

You are a columnist who writes on international issues three days a week and whose column is carried in 129 daily newspapers. You happen to pick up the Wittes volume because someone left one on your seat as they got off the plane in Chicago. You are now flying on that plane from Chicago to Anchorage, and you need to do another column anyway, and you decide to write a column arguing that Israelis and Palestinians each need to rethink how they negotiate. Since you are going to be on the plane for hours, it is a good time to do the column.

Your audience has no clue about this topic, particularly the kinds of things that the Dajani and the Kleiman chapters of Wittes discuss. Write a 3 page “column? or op-ed opinion piece that conveys the themes of those chapters to a general, intelligent, but non-expert audience. The column must be typed double space with arial or times roman font 12 or the equivalent.

In writing this you as a columnist know it is crucial to make your column interesting to the readers. You also know that telling people something that surprises them can be part of doing so.


This “column? is due a week from today. It will receive two separate grades, both pass/fail. One grade is based solely on the first and the last paragraphs. If the reader can discern what the column says from these two paragraphs, you pass – unless the paragraphs repeat themselves, in which case it is a fail.

The other grade is based on the entire paper. “Fail? corresponds to “columns? that do not leave the reader with a clear point and/or that seem unrelated to the Wittes volume and/or that do not have more than 5 paragraphs.