Research Essay or Report

You havethe choice to do either a research essayORa research report.A report is different to an essay. An academic essayprovides a clear and well–structured argument about a specific issue. The degree of success of an essay is related to how well the argument is made (including counter–arguments), and how well it is structured and the diverse range of references is integrated into the argument. An essayis thus subjective as it provides the author’s view on the issue under investigation. In an essay, I want to know what yourview of the subject matter is. (NOTE: It is okay to use phrases, such as “I argue…”, “in my view…”–but not ‘I believe…’ as you have to provide a clear, strong argument backed by references).In contrast, a research reportprovides information about a specific problem (in form of graphs, tables and illustrations), then discussesthefindings and itsrelevant issues, and provides in the end some solutions in form of recommendations. The success of a research report depends on whether relevant and viable data has been collected, and how well the collected data has been analysed and discussed and then integrated into a well–presented report which has clear recommendations for policy or other actions. IMPORTANT:there needs to be a clear flowfrom your findings to your discussion to your conclusion and your recommendations. For example, if your report is about the importance of knowledge in national sustainable development policies, you cannot make a recommendations that indigenous knowledge needs to be more included in SD policy making if you have notshown in the ‘Findings’ section that they are excluded, and have discussed in the ‘Discussion’ section why that is the case. In short, excellent essays and reports both demonstrate excellent research, analytical and communication skills. You need to show in both assessments your own critical thinkingabout the topic.The overall difference between these two assessment tasks is that in the essay you need to provide yourargument (your point of view on the issue by engaging critically with the argument of others), whereas in the report you need to engage critically with the relevant available information and then provide some recommendations to solve the problematic issues.You do notwrite a report in the first person.
Possible research projects:1.Critically analyse the impact and contemporary relevance of the 1987 Brundtland Report Our Common Future. You can either discuss the whole report, and discuss what the impacts overall where of the report and whetherthe issues covered are still relevant (and why) in contemporary debates and approaches of achieving ‘sustainable development’. Alternatively, you can pick one of the issues (chapters) of the report, e.g. energy, or international economy, and discuss how the report shaped the debates of that issue and successes and failures were about addressing that particular SD issue2.Choose an International Environmental Non–Governmental Organisation (INGO); such as WWF or Friends of the Earth, and research the INGO’s objectives and approaches to achieve global sustainability goals. Discuss the effectiveness of the INGO in transforming global/national discourses of sustainability.3.Discuss the role of religion for achieving global/local sustainability by researching one religion and its belief system about ‘nature’ and ‘sustainability’, and what role it plays in global SD efforts.4.Choose a country and research its ‘Sustainable Development’ strategies. Provide a comprehensive overview and assessment of SD in that country. Is the country moving towards sustainable development? Why or why not? 5.Pick one(1)of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and research it in more depth: why is it important for a sustainable future? Are its targets likely to be achieved? What needs to happen to achieve it?6.Pick one(1)of the key debates related to ‘sustainable development’ and research it in depth to show the state and issues of the debate, the various positions, and a clear discussion on how this debate is likely or not to be resolved. (Examples: the debate about the role of economic growth for achieving sustainable development; the debates about equity and justice; North/South debates about sustainable development; the debate about the feasibility of sustainable consumption and production; the debate whether a global sustainable future can be achieved through green capitalism). Check with course course convenor before you start your work.7.Pick one(1) majorglobal environmental issue (e.g. loss of biodiversity; overfishing; deforestation; energy security; water security) and research either the international solutions and its effectiveness ORchoose a country and how that country addresses this issue. You need to provide acriticalanalysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of how the issue is governed internationally or at national level.8.Any topic of your choice–afterconsultation with the course convenor.

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