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Please use primarily only our course readings, lectures, discussions, student led learning presentations, your research thus far, guest speakers and extra credit events to support your own ideas.The letter is also a bit like your research in a way: I want to know your sources, and your thinking.
Cite your reflection properly as you would a research project or paper with (author, page) for any quotations and general material (author). Make sure to identify where you learned something, for example, “In Hamblin’s book”… or “When I was looking in the archives”…or “In lecture we discussed…” “At the extra credit lecture on the anniversary of the start of WW I” … so I know what elements of the course relate to your ideas and examples in your reflection.
Here are a few don’ts, too. Do not say Rotberg and Rabb, be specific to the authors arguments. Do not use quotes longer than three sentences- paraphrase and leave only the most “powerful parts” in the quotes . Do not let quotes dominate your letter at all, so instead, try to summarize into your own words. Anyone can copy quotes, it is your synthesis of them that matters and how you use them to support your ideas that makes your writing persuasive. Unlike most history writing, for this reflection you may use first and second person, because it is a letter from you.
One way some students have done well: You might make an pro or con argument to the author you are writing and then show me where your evidence for your case is from in our course. You must not write just an opinion piece, but show me and the author you are writing how you came to your thinking based on your use of the content we have shared thus far in our course.
Use as much as you can of what you experienced in Why War 317 to show me your connection to the content. The letter will be graded on depth and breadth of content, showing your connection and thought given to the course. I am grading on both breadth and depth, but what I really want is for you to remember what was important about our class. Educational research has shown this is an exercise that can enhance and solidify your learning by reflecting upon your thinking using writing. In your letter, you might want to summarize the authors arguments, create questions for the authors, contrast and compare them and their content, compare with the other authors in the course, and/or engage with the text in terms of philosophical, historical or political science content.
Some suggestions just to kick start a brainstorm about ways to approach your letter, if you need ideas, are below. If you are still at a loss as to where to begin, perhaps consider looking over the study guides, the books, your research, your notes from class and these terms, and talk to your friends and family, just to spark ideas:
three postulates of hegemony,
hegemonic war as a disease,
balance of power,
circle of equity,
US Constitution Article II, Section 2,
New emerging types of war: drones, cyber-warfare, robotics, AI, etc.
Consider these questions and/or look over the study guides for more ideas: What defines a “just war” ?
Is war a product of nature or nurture or neither? Does it matter?
Does it matter if warfare has changed over time?
Is war and violence increasing or decreasing? Consider civilians in your answer or— explain why you don’t consider them.
Compare and contrast any of the theories or historical cases discussed in lecture and the readings. Where do these theories or examples fall short? How well do the authors explain either human nature, specific case studies of why wars happen or general causes of war?
Which author(s) do you most agree or disagree with and why?
What role does either the science, economy, patriarchy, education or violence have in why war happens?
Is there a way to stop war?
Is war a necessity?
What is war?
Einstein’s letter: Why War?