writing- problem Description

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Problem Description

Issues regarding statehood are at the core of each of the conflict cases explored in this course.

These issues are complex, involving many different parties with different demands. While

questions about statehood seem impossible to resolve, smaller issues related to the conflicts

may prove riper for resolution. In the problem description section of the policy brief, you will

identify and describe a particular, narrow problem related to your conflict case that appears

possible to resolve through the right policies.

Please keep in mind that your chosen problem should be narrow and


about core statehood issues.

For example, you should not write your paper about the

problem of Palestinians lacking their own state or about Azerbaijan’s lack of control over

Nagorno-Karabakh. However, you can discuss territorial problems related to the conflict. For

example, students researching the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may discuss the problem of

regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh being outside of the Azerbaijani state’s control.

Students researching the Israel-Palestine conflict can tackle the problem of sharing Jerusalem

between Israelis and Palestinians. Students who write about core statehood issues will not

receive a passing grade on the policy brief assignment. Please contact Prof. Finley or one of

the course teaching assistants if you have questions about whether your chosen problem is


As outlined in Young and Quinn (2002, 42), the problem description section should

accomplish the following:

Define the particular problem addressed throughout the policy brief

Describe the problem within its current context (don’t use this section to describe the

basic background of the conflict, but be sure to explain the background of the


Convince the reader that the problem requires attention

Build a framework from which the policy options can be argued (i.e., all of your

upcoming policy solutions should target the same problem)

Extensive research is necessary for students to identify an appropriate problem and for them

to describe it sufficiently. Your problem description should synthesize research across at least

3 different sources. This is a minimum; more sources will help you demonstrate a stronger

understanding of the problem at-hand.

Please use an appropriate title for this section of the paper. The title should very concisely

identify the problem you are addressing. Please do not title your problem description section,

“Problem Description.” Depending on the complexity of your problem, you may also include

subsections with their own headings.

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