Environmental activism

For Wednesday you need two things. 1. A short paragraph exploring why you are interested in your paper topic and 2-4 substantive specific research questions that you might want to answer. More interesting papers tend to answer how and why questions. Almost anything you choose will have to be focused further. Use this opportunity to take a first stab at it. Be aware that to come up with good questions, you’ll have to do a lot of reading first. 2. Three references, at least one of which ideally should come from the library (i.e. a book). The point is to prove that your proposed topic has specific sources, both primary and secondary. (This means don’t give me overview books of a whole period like textbooks and encyclopedias.) All references should be in full bibliographic format. You can use the format on the syllabus, or another – but be consistent across sources. I list below some broad topics for papers. It is not comprehensive. It is fine if you think of other topics you want to do.

One requirement of the paper is that it should be should be focused on environment or disease issues in China. (If you have an internationally-oriented paper, the paper should concentrate on the Chinese side of things.)

While it is not required, it is my suggestion to pick 1-2 case studies such as a particular environmental or disease incident because it conveniently has a beginning, middle, and end making it easy to organize. Use these case studies to explore broader political, legal, cultural, international relations, etc. issues you have. You can also compare and contrast case studies that are in two different locations or even China and another country. You do not have to focus on crises – it is fine to write a paper exploring things that or working or that answer neutral questions – like how are environmental ideas or hygiene patterns taught in China?

It is absolutely required that all papers have an argument that you spend the paper proving. In this paper you should pretend you are a lawyer making your case. Therefore, do not just describe how an event happened, instead say “This event happened because of these three reasons and not for the other possible five. I will proceed to prove it through A, B, and C evidence.”

(Many of the following topics could be made more specific by focusing on one gender; one ethnicity; a particular age group, a particular time period, a specific area; rural vs. urban China, a particular disease; a specific polluting industry, etc.)

Traditional philosophies about Chinese medicine and the environment

Chinese medicine, taiqi, qigong today – or as they evolved over the last 100 years

Rural or urban public health/primary health care

Migrants and health

Minorities and health

STDs, HIV/AIDS, sex education

Chronic diseases – smoking, heart disease, lung cancer, obesity, diabetes

Epidemic diseases

Parasitic diseases

Cancer – genetic & environmental/pollution based

Women’s health, maternal/child health, the one/two child policy

Food safety and security – organics, and local sourcing

Sanitation/waste management

International health threats and negotiations with the international community – SARS, Avian flu

Education/propaganda both in school and outside of it about health, climate, and environment – messages and reception of them

Environmental pollution (earth, water, air) – policies, practices, protest, politics



Protection of ecosystems/natural diversity and endangered animals

Chinese medical trade in endangered species

Water scarcity

Water quality

Water management – dams, irrigation, apportionment of water, desalination, water efficiency strategies, wells, fluoridation, and poisoning from deep wells

South-North Water Transfer Project

International water negotiations and potential wars

Climate change in China and as part of its international relations

Green energy in China, Green energy as part of China’s international relations

Indigenous environmental and health practices

Indigenous environmental rights vs. government development plans

Environmental activism

Security paper: pick an environmental, health, or food topic and analyze it from the Chinese government’s perspective as a security issue.

Rhetoric analysis paper: Examine how rhetoric on a particular topic has changed over time and what was going on between the lines; or compare rhetoric about a particular topic to the reality on the ground

Fictional paper: changing representations of one of the above topics in fiction

Visual analysis paper: changing representations of one of the above topics in comics, movies, posters, etc. (These papers must have some written sources as well).

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