Commodity Project Final Paper
Word length: 2,500-3,500 words.
Your job is to develop a final paper based on the Commodity Project Proposal. Do remember to include your approach (see below). We will grade your final paper based on the rubric (see below).
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’s extraction, distribution, sales, environmental impact, labor issues, or something else.
Rhetoric and Style:
How does the author connect with her/his specified audience? Pay attention to the tone (objective, judgmental, reserved, strident, urgent, partisan, etc.). What sorts of examples are used? How does the author frame a particular point or example? What kind of terminology is used? Anything else that you can think of?
How well does the author address the significance of her/his 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
(You should adopt ONE of the four approaches for your paper)
Approach A: Commodity Chain
Refer to the “commodity chain” concept in Module 1 & 2, and its definition. Track your commodity from its extraction point (raw material state) through the entire commodity chain to the consumer.
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 products reach consumers through a network of transporters, warehouses, and retailers
- Consumption – customers, their social and economic status, their geographical location, race, gender, age, etc.
- Disposal – where this product and/or its byproducts go after consumption
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 beans grow, to the specific facility where it was processed, to the distribution routes from the field to processing to retail, to the consumer. Include specific names of companies in as much detail as possible.
Approach B: Labor and Environment — Problems and Solutions
For this approach, 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 cause associated labor and/or environmental issues. You should investigative and uncover one particular (labor or environmental) issue related to your commodity. Then, you should come up with a solution to the 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/environment abuse — and who is affected.
A proposed solution: This maybe a solution that you’ve crafted yourself, such as a regulation, law, fine, treaty, 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 C: 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 is your commodity affected or will be affected by climate change?
2: How does your commodity affect 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 you talking about) and temporal (when on earth …) 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?
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.
You could refer to either Parenti or Ravoli in a significant manner in your work. You may use only ONE quotation. 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 D: 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 is 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:
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 3: Your Concept
You are expected to choose one concept that you believe relates the most 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 provided sources.
- One paragraph laying out your concept. This should include a definition in your own phrasing. Of course, use outside sources for help, 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. Avoid vague generalizations. Write in specifics. Provide details.
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 help with finding sources.
I also recommend taking advantage of UO’s library search engine: http://library.uoregon.edu/
and Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/
- The approach you chose
Choose ONE from the four approaches: Approach A, Approach B, Approach C, or Approach D
- Analyze with a concept
Engage at least one concept that you learned in this course
Summarize your paper and propose some future work.
Include the full bibliographic citation for the source in APA (or ASA) format at the end of your essay. Present quotations 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. More citation is a sign of strength of your work, not weakness. Provide citations for maps and images as well, if they are not your own creation. If in doubt, please consult your instructor (in advance of the due date) to determine what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Introduction (10 points)
Commodity clearly introduced (2 points)
Research questions (3 points)
Significance of this commodity (5 points)
Related work and prior sources: (10 points)
Number of sources (5 points)
Quality of synthesis (5 points)
The approach you choose (20 points)
Clear approach (5 points)
Application of the approach (15 points)
Analysis with concept (20 points)
Clear concept (5 points)
Applying 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 sources (5 points)
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