Posted by: Josef Korbel School, Office of Graduate Admissions | September 27, 2010

Papers, presentations, and 400-page reading assignments– you know, the fun stuff.

One thing I thought/worried about a lot prior to starting grad school was the amount and type of assignments that would be required for each class. As I mentioned in my last post, it ended up being less scary than I was anticipating, but I figured it might be helpful if I shared exactly what I have to do this quarter.

The required reading for each class varies… a lot. One class only requires about 60 pages per week, while a different professor assigned close to 400 pages last week alone. I’m taking 4 classes this quarter in addition to working 20 hours, so the idea of having to read 400 pages in one week for one class is laughable. Absolutely not going to happen. Fortunately I was assured by a couple second year students that the professor doesn’t actually expect us to be able to read all of it (why they assign it then I still don’t quite understand, but okay). I have 3-day weekends this quarter, so I usually spend most of the day on Fridays and Saturdays reading and give my brain (and eyes) a break on Sundays.

I’m actually excited to start working on my International Terrorism class assignments. (Never thought I’d say that about writing papers, but I guess that’s one of the nice things about grad school– for the most part, you get to pick classes that interest you, not just whatever is required.) We have to pick a terrorist group and write three short papers: the first is an analysis of the group, the second is an analysis of one of the attacks they carried out, and the third and largest paper is an analysis of the response to that attack. I chose Irgun (a Zionist terrorist organization active in Palestine the 1940s) and their bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946.

For my Field Ops in Humanitarian Assistance Class, we have in-class exercises and one paper on a topic related to the things we discuss in class. I’ve chosen to write about the recent increase in attacks on aid workers and what can be done to improve the safety and security of those in the field.

Next week I have a group project in International Organizations in the form of a debate on whether the Obama Administration is continuing the unilateralist policies of the previous administration or whether it’s making real progress toward adopting a multilateral foreign policy. Later on in the quarter I have to do a presentation and write a paper on what international organizations are doing to promote peace and security in the Palestinian Territories (I chose the topic), the successes and failures of those organizations, and my ideas for what can be done to improve their efficacy. There’s also a take home final exam at the end of the quarter (I think… I guess I should check on that, huh?).

I’ve found the assigments for Comparative Politics in the 21st Century to be a bit more daunting, primarily because I’ve had some difficulty with the subject matter.  (As in, I have no clue what’s going on half the time. I’ll be visiting my professor during her office hours this week for extra help.) There’s a take-home midterm, a presentation on one of the assigned readings, and a paper that indentifies and explores a question in comparative politics regarding the topics discussed in class.

That doesn’t sound like an insurmountable amount of work, does it? Nah. I can do it! 😀

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