Commodity project Essay

Words: 2500-3000 words. You are free to develop a final paper on the commodity of your choice based on the commodity project proposal (post in the attached file, but i lack of clear research topic, need you to help work on a clear research question). But do remember to include your approach (see below). We will grade it based on the rubric. If you have a hard time writing the final paper, here is some information that might help you.

Part 1 Your Commodity in the News

Choose five news articles, published within the last year, that discuss some aspect of your commodity. You might decide to read articles that deal with the commodity extraction, distribution, sales, environmental impact, labor issues, or something else.

Rhetoric and Style:

How does the author connect with his or her specified audience? Think here about what kind of tone is adopted (objective, judgmental, reserved, strident, urgent, partisan, etc.), what sorts of examples are used, how the author might frame a particular point or example, what kind of jargon is used, and anything else you can think of.

How well does the author address the significance of his or her topic? Are you made to care about the issue’s importance, the implications of the study, etc.? What did you learn from the source?

Part 2: your approach. I suggest four approaches you could adopt for your paper

Approach 1: Commodity Chain

Refer to the “commodity chain” concept in Module One and Two. Track your commodity from its extraction point (raw material state) through the entire commodity chain to the consumer. We’ve introduced the commodity chain concept, which can be defined as “a collection of interrelated economic activities and industries that produce a particular kind of product or service.”

You can create a map to depict where on earth each stage of the commodity chain takes place.

You should include the following elements in your commodity chain approach:

Supply – raw materials and their extraction/harvesting points
Manufacturing – building, assembling, converting, or furnishing raw materials into finished products
Distribution – how these products reach consumers through an organized network of transporters, warehouses, and retailers
Consumption – customers
Disposal – where this product and/or its byproducts go after consumer use

For example, if your commodity is coffee you should find one particular kind of coffee then trace where coffee is grown and track that coffee from the tree on which the bean was grown, to the specific facility where it was processed, to the distribution routes from the field to processing to retail, to the consumer. You should include specific names of companies in as much detail as possible.

Approach 2: Labor and environment- problems and solutions

For this approach, you will focus on one of the following aspects of your commodity: Labor or environment.

As resources like water, coffee, rare earth-metals and others become commoditized the drive for profit and increased production often have associated labor and/or environmental issues. You should do some investigative work to uncover one particular (labor or environmental) issue related to your chosen commodity. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have uncovered your commodity’s labor or environmental issue you need to come up with a solution to this problem.

A detailed description of your commodity’s labor or environmental issue. Be sure to give details on the problem, the location of your target issue, who’s involved, which organizations or companies, –maybe it’s not all companies who are committing the labor/env. abuse— and who is affected.

A proposed solution. This maybe a solution that you’ve crafted yourself, such as a regulation, a law, a fine, treaty, a technology, or something else that could resolve the situation. Or, it could be a solution that is being implemented. Either way, in this section you need to discuss the possibilities for success and the barriers and challenges to implementation. Is it corporate influence, lack of government willpower, corruption, weak (or lack of) international institutions, a combination, or something else?

Approach 3 Climate change impact on OR of your commodity

This approach provides an opportunity for you to investigate how your commodity and climate change influence one another. You could ask questions, such as

1: How your commodity is affected or will be affected by climate change.


2: How your commodity affects climate change.

1: Briefly summarize the climate change aspect you’re focusing on; explain who, what, when, where. Here you must be specific in terms of spatial (where on earth are we talking about) and temporal (when on earth are we talking about) scales at which your commodity is being affected by or is affecting climate change. Back up your claims with cited research.

2: For each of the following sectors, address what is at stake and possible impacts for each:

Economic – Who benefits, and who loses? What’s at stake for each group?

Social – Who benefits, and who loses? What’s at stake for each group?

Physical/biological environment

Of course, the economy, society and the physical/biological environment are inextricably linked, so your essay should include explanation of how changes in these three sectors will influence the others as well.

3: You could refer to either Parenti or Ravoli in a significant manner in your work. You may use only ONE quote. You will be graded on the extent to which you draw similarities, contrasts, or paradoxes that exist between either of the authors and your climate change commodity research.

Approach 4: Legacies of colonialism

In this approach, you could focus on the historical development of your commodity and its ties with imperialism and colonialism. This will require you to do some research. Commodities such as petroleum or sugar have blatant colonial legacies. It’s likely your commodities have similar histories, some more obvious while others less so.

Find your location and time:

You will need to pick a specific location, region or country where your commodity is grown or extracted. You will also need to focus on a fairly specific time-frame. Some of you may find that looking into a distant history provides the most compelling story, while others may find that a contemporary period is more fitting for your commodity. Honing a specific location and time will also help you concentrate your writing. It may also be helpful to pick a particular brand of your commodity as well. Though this won’t be necessary for all commodities, some companies have significantly different histories than others. If your commodity is water, you may find it most helpful to look to specific countries to find colonial legacies, countries in South America, Mexico or India might be good places to begin.

Start with good questions:

In order to dig into the history of your commodity you should start by asking a good set of questions. For example, if your commodity is a crop, why is it grown in its current location? How did it get there? Who brought it to that country? Is it indigenous to that country? If it’s a mineral or metal, what’s the history of extraction? How did companies get access to your commodity? How did companies develop relationships with countries to export your commodity? These are some beginning questions that will help you to dig into the history of your commodity.

Part three: concept

You are expected to choose one concept that you believe most relates to your commodity or that you feel is most interesting. There is no ‘correct’ choice. Many of the course concepts will apply to your commodity. Your objective is to select one and explain how/why it lends understanding to your commodity. This will require you to go beyond the source provided.

One paragraph laying out your concept. This should include a definition of your own making. Of course use outside sources to help you, but the definition needs to be your own words.
One to two paragraphs that explains how the concept you’ve chosen applies to your commodity. Like I’ve stated in past assignments, avoid vague generalizations. Write in specifics. Provide details.

Final paper template:


Introduce your commodity

Your research questions

Why you chose this commodity

The approach and concept you adopted in your paper

Related work (Resources):

You will need to come up with at least 5 sources.

If you are located in Eugene, I encourage you to go to the Knight Library and speak with a librarian. They can be very helpful in your search for sources.

I also recommend taking advantage of UO’s library search engine:

As well, google scholar is a good place to find a wide range of academic sources:

The approach you chose

At lease one from the four approaches:

Approach 1: Commodity Chain

Approach 2: Labor and environment- problems and solutions

Approach 3 Climate change impact on OR of your commodity

Approach 4: Legacies of colonialism

Analyze with Concept

Engage at least one concept learned in this course


Summarize your paper and propose some future work.


Include the full bibliographic citation for the source in MLA format at the end of your essay. Present quotes and paraphrasing appropriately. If it is not your own personal thought or widely recognized as common knowledge, you must cite the original source of the information. This includes citing maps and images if they are not your own creation. If in doubt, please consult your instructor (in advance of the deadline) to determine what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.


Introduction (10 points)

Clear commodity (2 points)

Research questions (3 points)

Significant of this commodity (5 points)

Related work (Resources): (10 points)

Number of sources (5 points)

Quality of synthetization (5 points)

The approach you chose(20 points)

Clear approach (5 points)

Application of the approach (15 points)

Analyze with Concept (20 points)

Clear concept (5 points)

Analysis with the concept (15 points)

Conclusion (10 points)

Summary (5 points)

Propose future work (5 points)

Bibliography (10 points)

Format (5 points)

Number and quality of the source (5 points)

Last Updated on February 11, 2019 by EssayPro