Social Studies Global Issues Assignment

| January 8, 2016

he global problems of conflict, poverty, debt, disease, environment and human rights are vast subjects. For this week’s assignment you will select specific issues within three of these general categories. Suggested issues are provided below but you may select others that interest you. You must explore three of the general problem areas. For example, for conflict, you can choose to look at piracy, Afghanistan or Ukraine as a case study to see how internationalists have tried to resolve the issue and whether or not they have been successful (or for ongoing issues, what are the prospects for success of international efforts?).

Possible issues you can explore (you may choose other global issues of interest as long as they fall within the six categories:


  • poverty in Africa or Asia
  • dealing with natural disasters in poor countries


  • spread of disease like SARS and bird flu
  • AIDS in Africa


  • global warming (climate change)
  • ozone depletion
  • resource depletion (eg. Amazon rainforest or copper)
  • pollution in the ocean


  • piracy (eg. Gulf of Aden, off Somalia)
  • war in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Ossetia, Congo, Sudan, etc.
  • NATO expansion and Russia
  • US missile defense (or National Missile Defence – NMD)


  • global trade
  • HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries)
  • G8 or WTO summits


Human Rights

  • torture
  • violence against women
  • government suppression of free speech and democracy (egs. Tunisia, Egypt; Libya; Yemen; Syria in the 2011 “Arab Awakening”)

You may use the textbook as a resource but you are also expected to conduct additional research for this assignment.

This is a major assignment – worth 22% of your Unit 3 mark. Please give this assignment the attention and time it deserves. See the assignment tips below.

Assignment – Contemporary Global Issues

This assignment has two (2) parts. You must do both.

For the purposes of this assignment, you’ll be studying international governmental organizations. That is, members of the international organization are nation-states. Do not include NGOs, for example, the Red Cross or Greenpeace, because these are independent of governments, even though their work is global.

Part 1

  • Conduct research on three global issues of interest that fit within the six general categories: poverty or debt; disease or environment; and human rights or conflict.  That is, you will research three (3) specific issues – case studies –  one (1) each for three of the six general categories.  For example, for Conflict, you might choose to conduct research on ocean piracy. If you are unsure about what to research, a list of issues is provided above. You may NOT do an issue you have done in any previous assignment. For example, peacekeeping has already been assessed. Or if you researched WHO and Ebola in a previous assignment then you’ll choose a different organization and issue in this assignment.
  • Complete the table (download here).  Cells will expand to fit your answers. You may do this as a Powerpoint presentation instead of in the table format.

Part 2

Write a one-page response to the following question:

  • Based on your research and what you have learned in the course so far, should Canada pursue internationalism to resolve global problems?
  • Explain your answer.
  • Use examples and/or evidence to support your position.
  • Use the specialized terms and concepts you learned in this unit.

Download the assignment here.

Complete the self-assessment rubrics.

Submit both parts of the completed assignment AND rubrics to theContemporary Global Issues dropbox.

Assignment Tips – Focus your research

Part I: Focus your research

For the Part I Table, you have three issues to research. Given your limited time to do this it is important that you focus your research to avoid being overwhelmed. The tips below will help you to stay focused, thereby ensuring the most efficient use of your time to complete this assignment.

In the Part I table, it is the third column where you want to get specific supporting evidence to support your evaluation of success. So it is in the third column where the higher order thinking comes in to play. This is where your research and thinking time should be focused for completing the Part I table.

For the first and second columns, limit yourself to just enough background research to be able to summarize the issue and describe one or two international efforts for each issue. Look at a specific country where this issue is taking place for column #1 and specific international efforts and organizations attempting to address the issue in that country for column #2.

It will be those same efforts you mention in column 2 that you’ll be evaluating in column 3. They key is to stay focused. Don’t get distracted by researching other efforts to evaluate. In column 3, evaluate the same international effort/organization you researched for column 2. Don’t make more work for yourself by introducing something new in column 3 that you didn’t have in column 2.

Understand your chosen global issues. For column #1, focus and limit your research to answering the following questions. Keep this to one paragraph – summarising skills are important (See Student Tools).

  • What is occurring, and where is it primarily occurring (2-3 sentence summary)
  • When did the issue arise? When do you feel the issue will hit the highest point of crisis (or has it already)?
  • What is the nature of the issue: does it represent a challenge, an opportunity or both?
  • Why is the issue a global problem? (in other words, why should we care? How does it affect us?

Try to avoid issues that happened just recently or two new to make a meaningful assessment. You can’t really assess an international effort if it is just weeks old, unless you were evaluating rapid response of international organizations – so how well prepared for sudden crises.

Part II: Use your research

To answer the question in Part II, utilize the research and analysis you’ve already done in the Part I table. Draw on your research and conclusions in the table to support your response to the Part II question. You have already done your research and analysis in the table. There’s no need to do additional research now; use what you have. Don’t create more work for yourself (unless you don’t have sufficient evidence to support your arguments).

Part II is a standard written response where you need to take a position – state your opinion – and then defend it with arguments supported by evidence/examples. For help on how to use your evidence and analysis to support your opinions, see the Student Tools section of content to hone these skills, particularly Paragraph Writing, Supporting Evidence and even Essay Writing pages (the latter will still help even though I’m not expecting a formal essay for Part II). Don’t be fooled. These are skills. You aren’t born with them. You get better only by learning about and practicing skills. Just like any athletic, art or other skills.

Research: where to look?

Find at least three websites that can give you more information on each of the topics you chose.  At least two of those sites must be reputable news or current events sites (for example,,,,, OpenDemocracy, and many others) and one should be the website of the organization you are looking at in column 2. In other words, go beyond what the organization is saying about themselves.

If you are using Wikipedia*, you cannot include that as one of the minimum three sites you are looking at.

*Note: Wikipedia is a controversial site.  Some instructors ban the use of this resource, while others encourage the idea of a global open source platform to share information.  If you do use Wikipedia, think of it as a starting place only – for example, their references section can be a starting point for sources you could look at in your research. Reliance on Wikipedia also tends to result in descriptive/narrative responses simply because encyclopedias are essentially designed for information retrieval, not critical thinking, which is what you are being asked to do in all assignments. Therefore, at this level, in this course, the use encyclopedia type sources is discouraged.

See Evaluating Websites in the course introduction or use this website evaluation checklist to ensure you are using valid and reliable sources to support your opinions.

Citing Sources: Cite the sources you have used in proper format – see Citing Sources in the course introduction or Student Tools section.

Review Supporting Evidence in Student Tools.

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