What are the main factors contributing to the dynamics of coffee production and fair trade in Brazil?

Research Paper: Global Consumerism, Natural Resources, and Economic Development—Varying Perspectives


Format: Set all margins to 1 inch. Insert page numbers.

Only 10, 11, or 12 pt Times New Roman font is acceptable.
Double space (no more, no less) the entire document.
Cover page (include a title, your name, academic major, date, course/section, professor name).
MLA format for in-text citations as well as Works Cited section required.

This paper asks you to think seriously and critically about your “stuff”—the coffee you drink, the chocolate you eat, the jewelry you wear, the clothing on your back, the mobile technology in the palm of your hand, the car you drive, etc. All of these are high-demand, mass-produced consumer products that take on geopolitical significance in an era of intensifying globalization. Thus, we are directly connected to the workings of the global economy—the sourcing and manufacturing processes that produce these goods. Ultimately, then, we must situate ourselves and assess our role in this complex geopolitical context. So…

What is the most effective strategy to ensure that a country’s natural resources remain legitimate components of sustainable economic development? In other words, what would you argue is the most effective way for a country to utilize its natural resources to advance and enhance economic development and wealth accumulation, but human rights, human wellbeing, and environmental stewardship?

This formal writing assignment gives you the opportunity to explore some of the varying, competing perspectives related to a specific natural resource and economic development scenario of your choice (for example, diamonds in Sierra Leone, coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo, etc.). At the core of this in-depth analysis, you will compare and contrast— and ultimately weigh in on—those differing perspectives.

Purpose and objectives:

. (1) To recognize, acknowledge, and manage the complexity of an important contemporary global issue.

. (2) To improve your ability to clearly articulate your perspective via a well-crafted, robust argument/thesis statement.

. (3) To improve your ability to support your argument with strong, compelling evidence. More specifically, (a) to hone 
your ability to conduct research and find reliable, authoritative, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles via the library’s research databases, and (b) to enhance your ability to carefully and critically read, evaluate, analyze, and deploy those sources to bolster your argument/thesis statement.

. (4) To engage counter-arguments and integrate contradictory or alternative perspectives relevant to your topic.

. (5) To make direct connections to the major ideas, concepts, themes, arguments, etc., presented and discussed in CGIS. Of primary concern:
(a) To watch for and carefully manage ethnocentrism (in your sources, as well as your own).
(b) To consider various strategies of economic development, broadly defined (market, state, civil society, human 
capabilities, the “doughnut,” the SDGs, etc.).
(c) To consider the limitations and vulnerabilities of uni-dimensional, natural-resource-driven economic 
development (the so-called paradox of plenty, resource curse, and conflict commodities).

STEP 1—CHOOSE A CURRENT NATURAL RESOURCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO (a specific natural resource and a specific country): There are numerous examples—diamonds (and other precious gems), coltan (and other strategic metals, minerals, and so-called “rare-earths”), ivory (and other wildlife resources), water, coffee (and other high-demand cash crops—cocoa, palm oil, opium poppies), oil (and other fossil fuels), trees/timer, etc. When choosing a country, avoid those situated in the Global North (so-called developed countries).

STEP 2—ARTICLE RESEARCH: You are required to use at least 7 but no more than 10 sources total, and at least 4 sources must be academic, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles (in other words, NOT books, book chapters, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, specialized reports, blog entries, newspaper/periodical articles, conference papers, MA/PhD theses) that discuss your natural resource and economic development scenario from different perspectives. These types of articles are published in peer-reviewed journals, and can be accessed through a variety of excellent research databases via the Gutman Library (you can often limit a database search to “peer reviewed,” “scholarly,” or other similar term). For the sake of practicality and usability, keep these in mind while doing your research: (1) articles published more recently will probably be more useful, so be mindful of articles published more than, say, 20 years ago; (2) skim the articles—if you don’t understand them, don’t use them!; (3) ideally, NONE of your articles should focus solely, or even primarily, on the United States or the Global North!

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