You must include the following (in a single file):

– a title for your paper that shows clearly the topic you are examining

– a revised version of your abstract

– a revised version of your references at the end of your outline

After your title, the outline should include the following elements:

1. Your revised abstract as the opening paragraph (this is standing in for your introduction)

2. A clear set of headings for 2 to 4 sections (showing how you will organize your paper), in addition to “introduction and conclusion”

Think of each of these headings as sub-titles for each sub-section of your paper. Although it is ok to include “introduction” and “conclusion”, the most important thing is to think carefully about the substantive sections of your paper. Each heading should be a few words long, not just a single word or two

3. Within each sub-heading, write about two or three sentences explaining what exactly it is that you will cover in this section, and how this sets up your argument. You can also include a sentence that indicates which references you expect to use in that section (you don’t need to write the full reference here, just cite it by the last name of the author and year of publication, e.g. Oliveira 2019).

4. Make sure that at least one of these sections (usually the last one before the conclusion) is explicitly dedicated to your own argument of what a political ecology approach to this topic critiques, reveals, and/or recommends.

This is a GOOD example of what a suitable outline SHOULD look like:

Title: Profits, not overpopulation, are the real driver of soil pollution

1. Introduction

In this paper, I will examine the problem of soil pollution using a political ecology approach. I will focus on the specific issue of soil pollution from agriculture, since that is one of the main sources of soil pollution. In the first part of this paper, I will show the mainstream explanations of soil pollution from agriculture as resulting from the excessive application of chemical fertilizers and the excessive demand for meat consumption. This mainstream explanation identifies the problem, but attributes its main drivers to overpopulation, the idea that there are too many people in the world now, and people are consuming too much meat, which is why we must rely on chemical fertilizers and factory farms to feed the world. In the second part of the paper, I will show what a political ecology approach reveals, shifting the examination from overpopulation to the forms of agricultural production based on chemical fertilizers and factory farms for livestock. In this political ecology account, it is the commodification of food and farming that drive soil pollution, not overpopulation. In the conclusion, I show how my argument focused on agricultural soil pollution can lead to a reevaluation of soil pollution more generally, and a broader critique of mainstream views based on false neo-Malthusian ideas of overpopulation causing resource scarcity and environmental degradation. (This would be a revised abstract from the assignment previously submitted)

2. The mainstream (neo-Malthusian) view of agricultural soil pollution

In this section, I will draw on the journal articles of Smith (2005), Wang (2010), and Kramer (2012) to describe how modern agriculture and factory farms cause soil pollution. I will then use the articles by Borlaug (2000) and Yuan (1995) to show the mainstream explanation of these problems, as rooted in a neo-Malthusian idea of overpopulation. This will include a discussion of the “green revolution”, especially the use of chemical fertilizers, and also a discussion of growing meat consumption, drawing on the chapters by Smith (2005) and Wang (2010).

3. The political ecology of agricultural soil pollution

In this section, I will draw on the book chapters and journal articles by Foster and Magdoff (2002), Patel (2013), and Guthman (2004) to critique the mainstream view outlined above. I will explain how reliance on chemical fertilizers and the unsustainable concentration of livestock in factory farms are two sides of the same coin, and that these transformations have taken place due to farmers seeking greater profits from their production. I will also argue that these farmers are not necessarily greedy, but pressured by a system in which their agricultural inputs are commodified, and in which they have to generate cash income to pay for growing expenses (like land rentals, hybrid seeds, new machinery, etc.). I will also show that consumption of agricultural products is highly uneven between countries, and between rich and poor people within countries. In the end, I will argue it is not population pressure, but the pursuit of profit that drives these farming practices that pollute the soil.

4. Conclusion

I will briefly argue that my argument can also be expanded to apply to other forms of soil pollution, and broader critiques of neo-Malthusian views regarding resource depletion and environmental degradation.


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