Synthesis Essays

Per the course guidelines, please provide answers of either 2500 words or less (undergrads) or 3500 words or less (grads) combined for each pair of questions, including in-text citations with page numbers to relevant in-class readings.  I strongly encourage you to work on each prompt as you go (using your prep exercises as a sort of sandbox for playing with ideas and arguments), rather than waiting until the day or two before it’s due.

Grads only: In addition to citations to in-class readings, I’ll expect to see a minimum of 3 references per question to works from our “Further Reading,” as well.


Prompt(s) #1 (Due in class, hardcopy, Monday, October 10): 

1) During the past several weeks, we have examined a number of explanations for why the Global North has “diverged” from the Global South in terms of economic growth and performance.  Given the arguments and evidence we have discussed, how can we best explain this divergence, and what are the mid- to long-term prospects for “convergence”?

2)  Why might political leaders choose to promote corruption, or policies that facilitate the use of public resources for private gain?  Please use examples from the relevant country case studies (including, but not limited to, Nigeria and Brazil).


Prompt(s) #2 (Due in class, hardcopy, Monday, Novermber 14): 

1)      What’s the case in favor of state-led development, and why did this model ultimately fail to produce economic growth in most of the developing world?  Finally, what (if any) are the prospects for transferring the “alternative” East Asian and Chinese state development models to the rest of the Global South?  Please provide relevant country-specific examples as appropriate.

2)      What is the structural adjustment “prescription,” as identified by the international financial institutions?  Does this prescription “work,” in the sense of creating the conditions for stable economic growth and development?  Why, or why not?  Please provide relevant country-specific examples as appropriate.


Foreign Aid Position Paper Prompt (one question only, undergrads only, Due hardcopy, in my mailbox in Bentley Annex, by 5 PM on Wednesday, December 7): 

Can foreign aid be a source of economic growth and eventual prosperity in the Global South, and particularly in the nations of the “bottom billion”?

As you craft your answer, you may wish to consider (among others) the following issues: To what goals should foreign aid be directed, and why?  When (if ever) is aid successful at meeting these goals, and why?  What are the pitfalls in effectively administering foreign aid (at the level of the donor agencies and the recipient countries), and how might they be overcome (if they can be overcome)?  Should we (the West) endeavor to commit greater sums for foreign aid, and if so, why and for what ends?