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Fly's avatar

What global issue would be best suited for my college application essay? (Details inside)

Asked by Fly (8726points) October 20th, 2011

I am in the process of applying to Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service for a major in International Politics. Each different school at Georgetown requires a supplemental essay. For the school of foreign service, the essay topic is:

Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.

I know that as someone applying to a school in foreign service, I should be knowledgeable about global issues, but I am having trouble picking an issue because the only current global issues that come to mind are problems that I don’t feel I can offer a solution to (i.e. Palestinian statehood, failing global economy). I was hoping the collective might have some suggestions.

I’m not asking for solutions to the problem or opinions on issues, I’m just looking for a good place to start.

Thanks in advance!

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16 Answers

saint's avatar

Why do some cultures find it difficult to produce wealth, and others do not. That is the essence of the world’s problems.

nikipedia's avatar

If I were writing your essay I’d write about food politics (or, the problems with industrial agriculture). Everyone needs to eat food, and it has important financial, environmental, and ethical repercussions, so it has broad appeal and a lot that can be said about it. Plus, I think there are a lot of very practical solutions that individuals and governments can employ.

But since you mentioned there are issues that you think are interesting to write about and can’t solve, it might be worth writing about them even without a solution. I doubt Georgetown expects you to solve any global crisis that no one else in the world has been able to solve yet! If you can talk about potential solutions, and the caveats to those, that would probably be a very strong essay.

Good luck!!!

Yanaba's avatar

HIV in Africa? Global clean water shortages? Overpopulation? Carbon cap and trade and rainforest destruction? Global warming? “Dead zones” in our oceans and global fishing and offshore resource clashes? The opening of the Northwest Passage due to climate change and the battles between the US, Canada, Russia, Denmark etc over that hugely important shipping lane? Lack of agricultural farming skills and/or arable farmland combined with wars leading to cycles of famine? Maintaining Arab Spring reform momentum in Egypt and Tunisia? Getting the other rulers out in that area that “should” be gotten out? Twitter and social media’s potential as tools of revolutions? First Nations rights in the U.S., Canada and Australia? The problems/opportunities/changes the world will see as the boomer generation ages in the Western world while median age in many developing countries is quite low? How to enforce developing international law without infringing too much on national autonomy and creating a bad precedent (this is a doozy…)? The ongoing negative effects of colonialism in some places in the world? Open science, open networks and the free flow of knowledge’s potential to create a better world, so how do we formalize and protect it?

Some of these are more like interesting topics than problems, but there must be something in there :) Look for something you may have a personal connection to somehow, or something you can identify with on some level. Speaking from the heart can be felt by a reader. Good luck!

Yanaba's avatar

PS. I have a friend who graduated from the Master of Foreign Service degree at Georgetown three years ago—is this the same program? Shall I put you in touch?

Jeruba's avatar

I’d say try to avoid some huge, enormous, global global issue (such as global warming or the world economy) because it will be too hard to tackle and will also be the choice of too many applicants. Try to find something with global implications that is not daily front-page news.

marinelife's avatar

What about the movement in Arab countries toward liberation (the Arab spring) and it use of or the importance of social media to the movement?

Sunny2's avatar

Starvation. Choose your countries or concentrate on one and possible solutions to a local problem. Political problems are very hard to unravel, compelling as they may be.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’d stay away from Israel and Palestine, because it’s so complex that you can’t really do it justice in that short of an essay. Also, because it’s a really hot-button issue, and it might put off the person reading the essay. Shouldn’t be that way, but it is, and a college essay should maximize your chances of getting into that school, not minimize them.

Do “global issues” have to be issues affecting all or most of the globe, or is it a term for issues outside of the US? Because I was going to suggest the continuing difficulties women in Argentina have in obtaining birth control, but then I thought maybe that was just a different kind of local issue, and wouldn’t be considered “global” enough.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Have you considered women’s issues? I was a women’s studies minor in college and there are a lot of problems that women in other countries face and many of these issues are compounded by how unimportant women’s issues are considered in general. For example, people can seek asylum in the US for religious or racial persecution, but not for gender persecution. There is also the issue of female genital mutilation which is very common in the middle east and Africa. Rape of women is used as common “weapon” in many war-torn countries and there are even some users here on fluther who fear for their lives because they are not virgins and are going to get married some day.

If you do decide to go the route of women’s issues, let me know. I have a number of books and resources I can point you towards. :)

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe look through the some of the topics President Clinton’s Global Initiative is trying to conquer?

Yanaba's avatar

Hey that’s true actually. The Millenium Development Goals from the UN are a great place to start as well. They’re been a huge deal in the international and development community for years.

global_nomad's avatar

Oil is always an issue. There’s only so much of it left and we will eventually run out. You can discuss alternative energies and how the growth of India and China have further contributed to the decline of supply. You could also discuss oil’s impact on certain economies, such as those of rentier states (Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc…) and you could even tie that to the Arab Spring.

Can you tell I’m Middle East Studies?

Fly's avatar

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I have not yet decided which route I will take, but I’m looking into some of your suggestions. :)

@Yanaba I don’t know much about the masters program at Georgetown, but it does sound like the same general program. If your friend has any advice to offer, I am certainly interested in speaking with them!

Mantralantis's avatar

@Fly – How about writing a supplemental essay that intertwines your journey of dissolution to possible solution into any one of your various global issues of choice and of that you trying to connect with others on finding ways to find a solution for said global issue of choice. It would be a sort of ‘essay journal’ really, only craft it to appear as an essay. It may feel emphathetic and accepting to those whom it may concern that will oversee your ‘entry assignment’. Sometimes, a radical approach is all you really have, so you never know.

Fly's avatar

Just to update everyone, I ended up using @nikipedia‘s idea to write about food politics (I wrote specifically about famine in third-world countries). Thanks so much to everyone for their suggestions!

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for letting us know. Good luck with the application.

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