BROAD TOPIC VS. SPECIFIC TOPIC
For your paper, you can choose to focus on a broad topic or a very specific topic. For example,
if you choose “plant biotechnology” as your topic, you would have two options: (1) you could
discuss plant biotechnology in general (though you would need to describe at least one
example of plant biotechnology) or (2) you could discuss a specific type of plant biotechnology
(e.g., herbicide-tolerant soybeans). These two options apply to most of the topics listed above.
REQUIRED PAPER COMPONENTS
(a) Define and/or describe your chosen topic.
(b) Discuss the history of your chosen topic. When did your chosen agrifood effort,
movement, or practice emerge on the agrifood scene? How has it changed/grown over
time? Is it becoming more/less popular? Who are the main promoters, participants,
users, beneficiaries, and other key players?
(c) Provide local, state, national, or international data (if available) related to your topic. (If
possible, provide information graphics, such as bar graphs, line graphs, etc.)
(d) Describe at least one real-world example of your chosen topic.
(e) Discuss the positive and negative impacts of your chosen agrifood effort, movement,
or practice on communities, societal groups, and/or human health.
(f) Discuss the positive and negative impacts of your chosen agrifood effort, movement,
or practice on the natural environment.
(g) Discuss the sustainability of your chosen topic. Is it economically feasible? Socially
responsible? Environmentally friendly?
(h) Discuss what the future holds for your chosen agrifood effort, movement, or practice.
You should rely on course readings (if applicable) and outside sources (books, academic journal
articles, newspaper articles, government reports, Internet websites, etc.) for your paper. Try to
include at least some works by rural/agricultural sociologists (talk to the instructor if you need
help finding rural/agricultural sociology literature!).
All borrowed ideas, data/figures, and direct quotes must be clearly referenced using an
accepted style (e.g., APA, MLA) for in-text citations and works cited. You must include page
numbers for all direct quotes.
GRADING OF FINAL PAPERS
Papers will be graded using the following breakdown of points:
Your Points Possible Points Item
__________ 20 Definition / description / history of topic
__________ 5 Use of local, state, national, or international data
__________ 5 Discussion of real-world example(s)
__________ 15 Impacts on communities, societal groups, and/or human health
__________ 15 Impacts on the natural environment
__________ 10 Economic, social, and environmental sustainability
__________ 10 What does the future hold?
__________ 10 Use of sources and proper citations
__________ 5 Overall flow and organization
__________ 5 Spelling and grammar
ALTERNATIVE FINAL PAPER TOPIC
If you would like to write a final paper that does not conform to the above guidelines, please
seek approval from the instructor. Alternative final paper topics could include an in-depth
comparison of two different agrifood efforts (e.g., corn-fed vs. grass-fed beef; fast food vs.
slow food; tillage vs. no-till systems), a comprehensive literature review of a particular topic
(e.g., the community impacts of community supported agriculture), or an analysis of empirical
data (e.g., survey data provided by the instructor).
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