556: Country Briefing

Briefing on Development Issue in Your Country

Imagine yourself as a researcher for an institution that works to alleviate poverty (the Gates Foundation, the US government, the government of your country, the IMF, Grameen Bank). Imagine your boss saying, "I have just gotten a grant for aid in YOUR country, but I don't want to screw it up! What are the key things that distinguish the situation of poverty in this nation that I must know before I can start creating an effective program?" How would you prepare this organization now that you are an expert on this country? Your answer should be based on your individual research AND what you have learned in the course so far about theories of development.

Make the case about the one most important factor in your country that is hindering development.

An argument doesn't mean you have to rule out all other possibilities. See PWG #4c. Your boss will respect epistemic humility more than arrogant know-it-all-ism. Are there other factors that he might decide are more important if he listens to different theorists.

The assignment should give you a chance to apply what you've learned in the course so far to one particular country. One place you might land is to say what seemed to make sense in theory seems to be inadequate for understanding what's going on in an actual country.

500-700 words, plus footnotes & bibliography

Research Tips:

  • You should have a minimum of six sources on your country in your bibliography. But you should also cite, in your footnotes, relevant sources from the assigned course readings.

  • Look over your early research. Do you see a story? A question mark? An area that draws attention?

  • Avoid just jumping into a Google search

  • Use Libguides, like the one for HIS 202.

  • First try a regular old periodicals search on the library database (Proquest). Filter out scholarly journals to start. Keep the time range past 2000. Does your proposed topic come up at all? (The reasoning here is to read the readable stuff first. Get the contours of the issue, or adjust the issue).

  • Remember to adjust search terms and other filters as needed.

  • Once you have a little background, turn to scholarly journals. (JSTOR, Proquest, etc)

  • When you do web searches, do pointed ones: BBC, UN, World Bank, aid organizations