Pol S 241 Final Exam Essay


Write an essay in response to one of the topics below. The essay is due at noon on 4 May (Wed.) at my office, 517 Ross Hall.



Each essay should be 4-5 pages long (1100-1300 words).  Essays must be typed or machine-printed and stapled (no paper clips or folders). Do not use colored paper. Keep a copy of your submitted essay. Use fonts no smaller than 12 points. Use a serifed font, like Times New Roman and not sans serif fonts, like Arial or Verdana:


This font has serifs.                   This font does not have serifs. Don’t use it.


Please have a separate title page with 1) your name and 2) your student ID number printed on it. Do not put your name or ID number on the pages of text (I grade blind). Text should be double-spaced and have 1-inch margins. Number the pages of text.


Put the number of the topic you are answering or the first phrase of the topic at the top of the first page of the essay text so that I know which topic you are answering.



This is a final exam essay so you should be using arguments and evidence from across the course, not just one or two weeks.  Be sure to provide examples from the readings, including WebCT article postings if relevant. These topics are designed to make you integrate various themes covered in the course. Put more bluntly: if you construe the question narrowly, I will construe your grade narrowly.




1. Criticize or defend this proposition:


“What separates successful polities from unsuccessful ones is not democracy v. authoritarianism, liberalism v. socialism, or civic v. ethnic nationalism, but rather the power of the state. The presence of a strong – that is, autonomous and capable – state is what prevents nationalist secession, civil war, state failure, and economic stagnation. All you need for peace and prosperity is a powerful state apparatus.”


2. Criticize or defend this proposition:


“Unlike nationalist conflict, democratization, civil war, or state failure, the fundamental causes of economic growth or decline are not due to failures of domestic political institutions but international factors beyond state control, such as trade and financial flows. Dependency theory and globalization theories are better explanations of economic outcomes than theories based on political variables.”