For picking a topic, a three-step process is often helpful. First, pick a type of disaster you’re interested in. Then, pick a specific instance of that disaster. Thirdly, choose a specific aspect of that disaster to talk about. Depending on the geographical size of the disaster, you may need to choose a specific geographic region too (for example, the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004). Be creative – if you’ve got an idea that you’d like to write about but aren’t sure if it’s appropriate, ask either one of the professors or teaching assistants. Suggested structure: Case study papers are different than some papers you may write in university because there is not a central thesis that you are trying to develop.
There’s no central argument that you’re presenting analysis for; instead, you’re presenting a picture of an event that happened, with an explanation and some analysis. As such, an essay structure is not relevant to this paper. This outline is only suggested – don’t artificially structure your paper to fit this exact form. However, the abstract is required (see below for information about writing an abstract). Please include section headings in your paper as well as a title page. For the purpose of an example, use Hurricane Andrew’s effect on agriculture in Florida as a sample topic. • Abstract (see below) • Introduction (introduce Hurricane Andrew and the sorts of agriculture in its path. Give an idea of the specifics of each – how big the hurricane was, its path, etc, as well as the types of agriculture, size of the industry, etc. Do not reiterate basic information from class about the type of disaster you are writing about, ie, don’t spend time explaining what a hurricane is and how it forms.)
• Description of the effect of the disaster (Was the damage just that the crops were destroyed? Perhaps there are other connections – damaged machinery, no way to harvest and distribute crops even if not totally damaged, etc. Enumerate the damage, but also think deeply about the effect of the disaster. This section should not be just a list of numbers.) • Response to the disaster / Efforts to repair the damage (How did the farmers respond? Was anything salvageable? What issues complicated their response? What problems did they have dealing with the disaster?) • Discussion (Some analysis tying together the pieces of information you’ve gathered in previous sections) • Conclusion (Summarize what you’ve discussed throughout the paper, but don’t just reiterate a bunch of numbers. Depending on the topic and writing style, your discussion may be woven into your conclusions.) • Bibliography (see below)