Political Science 42 Term Paper

Due two weeks before the final.


Guidelines:  The purpose of this term paper is three-fold: to develop your research skills, your writing skills, and lastly, to demonstrate your understanding of Latin American politics.  The length of the paper should range from 8 to 20 (max!) pages.  Keep in mind that length does not guarantee a good grade, however, some topics may require a longer essay in order to complete the assignment. 

            The paper is worth one-third of your grade, so spend some quality time on it.  The paper should be typewritten and double-spaced using excellent grammar and spelling (use those spell- and grammar-checks!).  Do proofread the paper!  There are several style manuals available in the Library and Bookstore that will be of great service to you as you develop your writing skills.  In addition, your paper should include a title page, page numbers, citations, and a bibliography.  A good bibliography will have at least three books listed.  Periodicals and newspaper articles can be good additions, but not replacements for, to your list of books.

The due date of the paper is listed above.  Be mindful of the fact that this date is approximately two weeks before finals begin.  Late papers will not be accepted.


Topics:  There are a wide variety of topics that you may choose from.  You may choose to focus on a country or countries not already covered in class. As well, you may choose to write on specific aspects of women in the political arena: as activists, organizers, elected politicians, commentators, and so on.  You might focus on certain organizations or movements, such as political parties or well-known non-governmental organizations. Some of these organizations deal only with single issues, while others deal with an entire platform of issues, such as CISPES or Mothers of the Plaza.  Specific topics might be: as political/social movements, public policy, the judicial/penal system, health issues, educational issues, economics, labor movements, environmental issues, military/guerrilla/terrorist organizations, religious individuals/organizations as political activists, indigenous issues, and race and sexual issues.  The instructor is available as a resource for determining topics.


Analysis: What follows is a list of questions that you may use to develop your analysis of your topic.  It is not a complete list of questions, nor should they be the only questions you use.  The purpose is to guide you and move you in a direction that helps to develop a logical and succinct presentation of your topic.


1.      Choose a country not listed on the syllabus. What are the legal, economic, political, and social issues and challenges facing that country? What impact does the Church, the indigenous, the economy, and outsiders have on national, state, or local politics, and vice versa?


2.      Under what conditions do the indigenous have their best political opportunities (i.e. electoral system, party system, party type, culture, religious traditions/practices, economic system, welfare state, state of the established government, etc)?  Which of these have been the most and least successful? What are the most and least successful strategies that they have used as they access the political system?  Why are some opportunities and strategies successful, while others fail?


3.      Regarding political or religious movements: How did they develop? What is the relationship between movements and other government organizations, such as political parties and the federal/state government? What social forces preceded the movement? Who are the activists, beneficiaries, and long-term goals of the movement? What impact do they have on the political system?  Compare and contrast with other movements and organizations in terms of accomplishments, shortcomings, the role of leaders, ideology and organization?


4.      What are the differences and similarities in the ways that the indigenous participate in politics, both in an historical and contemporary context?  What are the political contributions, challenges and obstacles facing the indigenous? In what ways they approach politics? What presumptions can be made about them in politics, i.e., as an individual, part of a group, and in their relationships with others and to the state and towards politics. 


5.      What political, social, educational, labor, health and/or economic issues have the most impact on society? What current policies have been successful, and which have not lived up to expectations?  What, if any, changes can be made?  What are your priorities? How might they accomplish their goals?


6.      What impact did your topic have on you, as you wrote your paper? In what ways did the research teach you something you did not know before? Does the information you discovered do anything to alter or contribute to your personal or political philosophy?