RIGHTS AND WRONGS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
FINAL TERM PAPER ASSIGNMENT
Fall Term 2020
The protection of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ varies enormously around the world. In this course, we spend a great deal of time discussing how ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ legislation, and the enforcement of such legislation by criminal justice systems, differs so remarkably around the world. However, due to time constraints our examination of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ laws and practices in Canada and abroad is necessarily limited, introductory, and vastly incomplete. Consequently, the purpose of this term paper assignment is to allow students to explore a ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ topic of importance to them in considerably more depth in a geopolitical location that has meaning to them.
SYLLABUS FORMAL INSTRUCTIONS
Students will either choose a ‘RIGHT’ and/or ‘FREEDOM’ that is: a) legally protected in one country (let us refer to this country as “Country A”) but b) NOT legally protected in another country (let us refer to this country as “Country B”). A third option is to choose two countries where a ‘RIGHT’ and/or ‘FREEDOM’ is legally protected, however, the legal protections are SIGNIFICANTLY more LIMITED or RESTRICTED in one country compared to the other. One of the two countries that you choose for your analysis MUST be Canada. However, the other location can be ANY country of your choosing that currently exists (i.e. you cannot choose a former nation like Yugoslavia or the USSR). Students will draw on academic resources (rigorously peer reviewed scholarship) and “grey literature” (government documents, working papers, white papers, and evaluations) to describe with detailed empirical evidence the social, political, economic, scientific, historical, geographical, and cultural factors and circumstances that explain why the ‘RIGHT’ and/or ‘FREEDOM’ is protected in Country A but not (or less) protected in Country B. Terms papers should range between 10-15 pages double spaced Times New Roman Font. Papers must strictly adhere to APA style guidelines (not just internal citations and bibliography).More information will be available through the course website.Papers received after the deadline (which is the last day of ALL scheduled lectures) will not be marked and will receive a grade of zero.
AIMS OF THE ASSIGNMENT
The first primary aim of this assignment is to acquire a better understanding of how and why the legal protection of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ through the justice system varies so significantly around the world. To this end, students will compare and contrast two countries (one of which HAS to be Canada) where the legal protection of a certain ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ is different. For simplicity, we will refer to these countries as COUNTRY A and COUNTRY B, with COUNTRY A being Canada (the reference country), and COUNTRY B being a foreign country (the comparator). Drawing on criminology (theory, paradigms, concepts, models, research), and research on the countries (a wide range of primary and secondary sources discussed below), students will advance an ARGUMENT which helps explain HOW and WHY the legal protection of the aforementioned ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ is different.
A second primary aim for this assignment is to develop analytical skills necessary for carrying out research (essential for those interested in pursuing careers in academia, science, medicine, law and teaching), and argumentation skills necessary for articulating clear, logical, and persuasive positions (important for careers in litigation, politics, police investigation, investigative journalism, and sales).
A third primary aim for this assignment is to help hone writing skills essential for all professional careers and post-secondary educational pursuits.
A fourth primary aim is for students to explore, in depth, a topic and/or location that is meaningful and important to them. To this end, students are encouraged to select a topic (i.e. a ‘right’ or ‘freedom’) that they believe is particularly relevant to their long term professional career goals, or their personal lives and experiences. They are, furthermore, encouraged to select a comparator country (Country B) that they have a personal connection to, or that they are particularly interested in or passionate about.
FORMAL ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS
Students will first select a ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ which is either:
Students will then pose a RESEARCH QUESTION about the discrepancy in the LEGAL PROTECTION with respect to the ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ they have chosen.
Students will be expected to draw on a WIDE variety of academic and “grey literature” resources to learn as much as they can about the COUNTRY(IES) they are studying in order to answer their research question. For students who have chosen Case Study Option A, this literature review will focus primarily (though certainly not exclusively) on foreign Country B. For students who have chosen Focussed Comparison Option B, this literature review will focus on both countries roughly equally. Students want to consider any and all of the social, political, economic, scientific, historical, geographical, and/or cultural factors and circumstances of their two countries that help to explain the cross-societal variation in legal protections regarding the ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ they have chosen to study.
ACADEMIC sources include PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES and BOOKS that are published by REPUTABLE ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS (i.e. University of Toronto Press, Ashgate, etc.). In terms of books, a good rule of thumb is that if it can be found in U of T’s library, and if it is written by academics (not self-help or pop psychology-type books), then it is likely an acceptable scholarly book.
GREY LITERATURE sources can include government documents (parliamentary debates, policy briefs, policy documents), reports released by non-governmental organisations (i.e. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports and statistics), official websites, and articles from reputable newspapers. Please avoid sites like Wikipedia, yahoo, and web blogs. These are perfectly fine for starting out (I encourage you to use them initially- and you will find that I draw on them for lectures from time to time) but they are NOT acceptable for the final paper. Please see me if you need clarification with any specific sources.
Students are encouraged to draw on a wide variety of both PRIMARY and SECONDARY sources that are NOT purely academic, but that they feel are, nevertheless valid, authentic, and reliable. I want students to feel comfortable working with material not just from criminology and criminal justice books, textbooks, and journal articles.Academic peer review is not, and should not, be the only barometer for validity, authenticity, and reliability. Also, when studying the law, it is crucial to engage primary sources including legislation, government documents, and policy papers. For example, if students think variation in legal protections can be attributed to public attitudes surrounding a certain ‘right’ or ‘freedom’, then public opinion polls/data, surveys, but also newspapers’letters to the editors might be useful sources. If students think the variation in legal protections can be explained by different political circumstances (like electoral motivations, attitudes or the ideological leanings of politicians), then political science texts and articles but also election results, Hansard records of parliamentary debates, and governments’ or politicians’ press statements or newspaper quotations might be useful. If students think media coverage matters in their study, then an analysis of archived newspapers might be useful if they can be accessed. If students think that variation in legal protections is explained by differences in cultural and religious attitudes, then anthropology and cultural studies texts might be helpful, but also primary religious texts such as the Old and New Testaments, the Quran, etc. I encourage students to familiarise themselves with ALL of the services and resources available to them through all of UOIT’s libraries. Subject librarians are EXTREMELY helpful when students are looking for unusual non-academic sources that may be of use to them, or sources that are not available at UOIT but canbe retrieved from another location.
These are all topics that we will be exploring in the course through lectures and readings, and they are all related to the social construction of ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’, which is a central course theme. In sum, students should be looking at a broad range of processes and factors, including historical events (big and small), the social construction of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’, political motivations, elections, public opinion, cultural attitudes, religion, geography, economic conditions, social stratification, and social structure.
After this is complete, students will draw on course materials (course readings) and/or outside ACADEMIC sources to formulate their OWN social scientificARGUMENT for HOW and WHY there is cross-national variation (i.e. between Country A and Country B) in the legal protection of the ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ they are studying. Students are welcome to draw on lecture content, however, they should be finding this information in scholarly sources and then referencing these sources (please see me for assistance with finding any of this material).
What is a social scientific argument?
It is a REASONED (or logical) answer to the research question that is supported by evidence AND is GROUNDED in a SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE. Your social scientific perspective can be informed by social scientific paradigms, social scientific theories, social scientific models, social scientific themes, and/or other social scientific research (that may or may not be theoretical so to speak). To be clear, these paradigms, theories, models, themes and research need NOT be authored by criminologists or justice scholars or only covered in criminology or justice studies courses and texts. Thinking of criminology and justice studies as a distinct category can be quite misleading. Most of what we talk about in criminology and justice studies is interdisciplinary and used in many other fields (i.e. Marxist theory is used in sociology, criminology, political science, economics, philosophy, history, anthropology, etc.). However, the argument must be grounded in a SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE that focusses attention on SOCIETY, SOCIAL RELATIONS, SOCIAL FACTORS, etc. (i.e. politics, media, culture, history, economics, etc.). For example, if students find themselves paying MORE attention to biology, physical geography, or purely written law and paying LESS attention to the wider society, they probably need to adjust their focus.
Term papers must draw on an appropriate number of sources. Students should be aiming for a minimum of TEN sources, with no maximum limit.
Term papers must present a clear, structured and well written ARGUMENT that draws on social science (approaches, research, theory, concepts, debates, discussions, models) to EXPLAIN how and why there is variation in legal protection of a certain ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ across the two countries chosen.
With respect to ‘rights’, ‘freedoms’, and legal protections, term papers must make clear, direct and detailed reference to relevant legislation (or the absence of such relevant legislation) and its wording (i.e. direct quotations) in both Countries A and B. This must be done in order to substantiate the students’ claim that the legal protection of the ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ they have chosen to study is, indeed, different.
Terms papers should range between 10-15 pages double spaced Times New Roman Font.
Term papers must strictly adhere to APA style guidelines (not just internal citations and bibliography).
TERM PAPER EVALUATION GUIDELINES
The following is an overview of the key criteria that will be used to evaluate students’ term papers. While all components will feature prominently in the evaluation, please be advised that the topic, argumentation, and evidence will be given significant consideration (in particular the argument!).
Students have chosen a suitable topic that meets the requirements of the term paper outlined above. They make sure that they have chosen a specific ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ from a specificcountry in which the legal protection is differentfrom what it is in Canada. They clearly, and in detail, describe the specific ‘right’ and ‘freedom’, and its legal protection (or lack thereof) in Countries A and B. They make direct reference (i.e. quotations) to legislation in both countries. This can include pointing out the absence of legislation pertaining to a ‘right’ or ‘freedom’.
Students present a clear thesis statement that articulates their argument. They then use their paper to build an argument in which social scientific research, theories, concepts, ideas and/or models are used to EXPLAIN why the legal protection of their ‘right’ or ‘freedom’ under study is different in both countries. This is explained in much more detail above. The argument is clearly introduced and presented, and it is strongly supported by evidence.
Students draw on an adequate number of sources to develop their argument. As stated above, they should be aiming for approximately TEN sources minimum. Dependent on the topic and analysis, for some papers, TEN will be sufficient, whereas for others more will be required. Thus, students are being graded here not on how MANY sources they have, but rather, how successfully they have supported their argument with evidence. Therefore, it is both the quantity and quality of sources (not just the quality of articles and books, but far more importantly, the quality of the students’ use of the research to support their arguments).
The paper has a clear introduction and conclusion. The overall argument for the term paper has a clear and logical flow, and is easy for the reader to follow along. Students are strongly encouraged to consult writing guides on how to formally structure a term paper, and they are welcome to contact me for feedback and advice.
Writing is clear and elegant, sentences are nicely constructed, paragraphs are an appropriate length and are nicely constructed, writing is polished, and spelling and grammar are error free. Spelling and grammar will be taken into serious consideration when grading papers.
Bibliography and internal citations are accurately laid out according to APA style. The paper conforms to term paper instructions in terms of font, size, layout, etc.
All aspects of the term paper conform to proper APA formatting style and formal assignment instructions, i.e. title page, margins, heading, font, size, spacing, etc.
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Students are expected to be familiar with and abide by Ontario Tech University’s regulations on Academic Conduct which sets out the kinds of actions that constitute academic misconduct, including plagiarism, copying or allowing one’s own work to copied, use of unauthorized aids in examinations and tests, submitting work prepared in collaboration with another student when such collaboration has not been authorized, among other academic offences. The regulations also describe the procedures for dealing with allegations, and the sanctions for any finding of academic misconduct, which can range from a resubmission of work to a failing grade to permanent expulsion from the university. A lack of familiarity with these regulations on academic conduct does not constitute a defense against its application. This information can be found at http://calendar.uoit.ca/content.php?catoid=22&navoid=879#Academic_conduct
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