So far we have studied the ideas of politicians, economists, and journalists, both dead and alive. We’ve read and discussed alternative points of view on important current economic issues. Now I want to read what you think.
This last major assignment for the course is an opportunity for you to be heard yourself. You have the opportunity to research and analyze the economic system of some country.
The Topic and Objective
The topic is rather wide open. You have a lot of latitude in choosing what to write about. I expect you to select some particular issue that is relevant to economic systems and write about it. You may approach this as either a persuasive essay where you are trying to persuade your fellow students of a particular point of view, or an informative essay where you bring some interesting insight, dynamic, trend, or facts to light that your fellow students might not know. Consider your audience and readers to be your fellow students. Write and talk to them, not me. So, if you’ve been thinking throughout the semester that there’s some insight or opinion that you have and you’re wish you could “get it off your chest”, this is the time. Write a persuasive essay to tell us about it. If you don’t have any particular opinion or viewpoint to share, then explore some of the data resources, find something curious, interesting, or surprising and then tell us about it.
I have a more detailed grading rubric below on this page, but when I grade these essays, I will be asking myself these three questions:
- Would a typical student learn something interesting by reading this essay?
- Did this student do some research and use data or facts to support their essay?
- Can you apply concepts and ideas we’ve discussed so far in the course?
Often picking the topic is the hardest part of writing for students, often because students set too high of an expectation for what’s a good topic. I’m only looking for “interesting to your fellow students”. “Interesting” does not mean earth-shattering, life-changingly profound. It just means something that the reader will hopefully go “hmm, I didn’t know that” or “I hadn’t thought of it that way” when they read it.
A Suggestion for Finding/Picking a Topic
If there’s not a particular issue or topic that you’ve been wanting to write about, then I suggest you do the following: pick a particular country or 2 countries, then write about how that country has approached, performed, or handled:
- healthcare for its citizens
- intergenerational support or transfers for children and/or seniors
- education for its citizens
- income inequality
On the data resources page, there are several very good data resources. Some of them, such as Gapminder.org and The World Top Incomes Database are interactive, allowing you to explore, drill down, put together fascinating graphics, and select your sample of countries or data. Some of these sources also allow you to create a graphic and then embed it in your essay in WordPress. There are other resources that are more static lists of data, graphics and comparisons. Go to the data sources page. Explore. Find something that you didn’t know. Then write about it and tell us.
Being specific is better than being general. Pick specific countries if possible. Pick specific ideas or data elements. More detailed is better. Instead of just looking at real GDP, when not look at education of children, or access to some form of healthcare, or cars or cell phones per person.
Finally, another possible source of ideas might be to look at my past blog posts on comparative economic systems. There’s over 136 of them. If you aren’t sure your topic is right, please feel free to email me or post a comment on this page at the bottom.
The Assignment Details
You need to write an essay for posting on this website. Mechanically, it is the same procedure as you followed for creating your book reviews. The only difference is that you should check “Student Essay” instead of “Student Book Review” in the Category box when you create or publish your essay.
I am not looking for a full-blown “term paper” or “research project”. However, I am looking for something more substantial than just a long opinion piece such as you might write when commenting on discussion post/question.
I am looking for:
- A well thought-out piece of writing.
- Use of and linking to some data. I expect more than just opinion. I want ideas informed by some data or facts.
- Links to other sites or sources.
- Length: at least 400 words. Over 2000 words might be excessive. WordPress shows you the current word count at the bottom of the text input box.
Your essay will be worth 50 possible points. The course has a possible 500 points, so this means it is worth 10% of your course grade.
I will assign points using the following rubric. I will assign between 0 and 10 points for each of the following criteria, with 0 being totally missing and 10 being excellent, met or exceeded expectations. In addition, the student gets 2 points for meeting the due date.
- Main Point: A key point/thesis is clearly stated.
- Sources: Sources are cited/linked. This includes not plagiarizing – give credit where credit is due. It also means paying attention to relevant rights and copyright issues for re-used content.
- Interest: Topic or thesis is of interest to other students and written/organized to be interesting and easy to read/view. Use of supporting graphics or media is encouraged.
- Support: Viewpoint is supported by data and facts.
- Technical: Overall quality and attention to detail (grammar, spelling, layout) etc.