Assignment Five: Natural Hazards Pt. 1

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Assignment Five: Natural Hazards Pt. 1


Read Natural Hazards, Unnatural Disasters, ‘Memo to a concerned finance minister’ through Chapter four. Write an approximate 1000-word reaction paper on the concepts. Consider for inclusion in your discussion:


  • How do hazards ‘cluster’ and what are the impacts?

  • How do disasters impact the economy and growth?

  • Are individuals adequately self-sufficient and concerned for their own welfare and safety?

  • How can governments help individuals and society overall?

Writing the Response-Reaction Paper


This information is meant to supplement the description of the reaction paper found in the PDF document. It is an attempt to prevent common errors that have been found in student papers over the years. Here are some suggestions and things that you can expect the instructor to be looking for:


  • An introduction. You are writing a paper for an uninformed reader who has not read what you read and has no association with the class or the school. So don’t begin: ‘In this week’s readings …’ because your generic reader won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Rather, begin: ‘This is a review of [Title] by [author] (200X), chapters …’. That way, your readers will understand what they’re reading and why they’re reading it.
  • APA: The manual says to provide a double-spaced paper in Times New Roman 12-pt—so don’t turn in anything else. Also, use of the assigned material is required. If the assigned reading is Smith, don’t turn in a paper based on the work of Jones.
  • The task in writing the reaction paper is to explain a body of work to your reader. Do this in narrative form, explaining all the important concepts as you find them in the readings. There are questions or topics in the assignment guidelines for you to consider for inclusion. DO NOT list out the questions and answer them. The questions are not meant to be all-inclusive, and you will miss important concepts if you skim the readings looking for the answers.
  • The assignment guidelines typically give a 1000-word target for a paper. Going over is fine: going under is not. Be thorough and comprehensive in your depiction and explanation of the topics.
  • Do not include any of these phrases in your paper: ‘I think’; ‘I believe’; ‘I feel’; ‘In my opinion’—despite the term ‘reaction paper’, this does not mean your personal reaction. Your paper should be valid no matter who wrote it—so just give the objective facts and draw the objective conclusions. Always write in third person. Only put factual information that you can support in papers. Avoid religious and political perspectives since they can lead to argumentation that can’t be resolved.
  • Proofread! The Word program has a marvelous feature that underlines misspelled words in red and grammatical issues in green. Take the hint! If you turn in a paper that is full of red and green underlines, then you’re telling the instructor that you don’t care about the quality of your work. If you don’t care about the quality of your work, then he or she won’t care about the quality of your grade.
  • Provide a reference section that is titled: ‘References’. Use the ‘page break’ command to ensure the section begins on a new page. The heading is centered and not bolded. There is no colon. Use the reference entries as they are given to you in the syllabus or assignment guidelines. Note the first line of the reference entry is NOT indented, and the second line IS indented. If there are issues, look them up in the APA manual—don’t guess.


Follow these guidelines, and you’ll achieve a huge jump in your progress towards the successful completion of your master’s degree. Guaranteed.  J

h t t p : / / u w p . a a s . d u k e . e d u / w s t u d i o Response/Reaction Paper Definition of Genre In a reaction or response paper, writers respond to one or more texts they have read. A popular assignment with instructors in the social sciences and humanities, such papers require students to understand each text individually and evaluate how well each accomplishes its own objectives. If you are responding to multiple texts, you must also discover how the texts relate to one another. (If responding to just one text, you might need to situate it within the larger context of class discussions, readings, etc., depending on the prompt.) A reaction paper may include a discussion of interesting questions that the readings raise for the student, but such a discussion is not sufficient by itself. Writing good response papers is more demanding than it might appear at first. It is not simply a matter of reading the text, understanding it, and expressing an opinion about it. You must allow yourself enough time to be clear about what each text says and how the texts all relate to one another. In other words, response papers require you to synthesize the intellectual work of others—that is, bring it together into an integrated whole. In preparing to write response papers, therefore, it is crucial that you allow yourself not just enough time to do the readings but enough to digest what you have read and to put the results together into a unified account. Questions to Ask Consider texts individually: • What is the main problem or issue that the author is addressing? • What is the author’s central claim, argument, or point? • What assumptions does the author make? • What evidence does the author present? • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the text? • What are possible counterarguments to the text’s claims? • Why are the problem(s) and the argument(s) interesting or important? Consider texts collectively: • How do they relate to one another? Do the authors agree? Disagree? Address different aspects of an issue? Formulate a problem in different ways? • In what way (if any) does the information or argument of one text strengthen or weaken the argument of others? Does integrating the claims in two or more of the texts advance your understanding of a larger issue? Actions to Take • Pay attention to the instructions your instructor provides for the assignment. He or she may have specific expectations, which you should be careful to take into account. The prompt may also give you clues that will help you to understand what you should be getting out of the texts. • Explain the key terms, main arguments, and assumptions of each text. • Do your best to characterize each text’s arguments fairly and accurately. • Evaluate the evidence that each text presents: point out strengths and weaknesses, both internal to the text and in relation to the others. For example, if one text makes an argument based on an assumption that another text either confirms or refutes, then you can use the latter text to evaluate the plausibility of the claim made by the former. • Explain how the texts relate to and “speak” to one another. Synthesize them if you can, and if you cannot, explain what the barriers preventing such a synthesis are. • Consider both sides of issues at stake. If all the texts are on one side of an issue, consider the other side. If the texts fall on both sides of an issue, consider where agreements and disagreements lie and what each side’s strengths and weaknesses are. • Include your own voice by weighing arguments, evaluating evidence, and raising critical questions. If there seems to be something important that none of the authors addresses, point it out and state what you think its significance is. Try to be as specific as possible. • Be careful to do all parts of the assignment. Accord each text the weight it deserves. Don’t forget to synthesize your account by showing how the texts relate to one another. The authors are in a figurative, if not literal, “conversation” with one another, and you must be able to recognize and explain what is going on in that conversation. • Keep an eye out for authors’ omissions, and raise counterarguments when you detect authors’ arguments are weak. Actions Not to Take • Do not wait too long to start writing. Remember that reading and understanding the texts are only the first steps toward putting the paper together. • Do not write an autobiographical essay. Reaction/response papers are not about how you feel—even how you feel about the texts. They are not simply a venue for you to say whether you like or dislike the texts. Give praise or blame where you think it is due, but avoid commendation or condemnation for its own sake. • Do not just summarize the texts. You are supposed to be reacting or responding to them, not simply repeating what they say. If there is no analysis involved, then you have not responded, only regurgitated. • If there are things in the text that you don’t understand, do not try to gloss over them. Try to find out what the text means. Ask questions of your instructor. If you still cannot make sense of an argument in a text, then it may be the case that the argument does not in fact make sense. If that’s the case, point it out in your paper. Helpful Links Additional tips on writing response papers from the University of South Dakota. A Loyola instructor suggests thinking of response papers in terms of who, what, where, when, and why.