Students are required to write one short paper and one longer paper in the course. Students select from a list of topics for the first paper. The second paper topic is chosen by the student in consultation with the professor or teaching assistant.

First Paper Topics

Write about 6 double-spaced pages on one of the following questions:

  1. Would we be better off without alcohol?
  2. What makes for an unhealthy relationship with a substance?
  3. How has capitalism changed patterns of drug use?
  4. The anthropologist Marlene Dobkin de Rios writes: "the sacred and reverent utilization of psychoactive substances among tribal peoples has been transformed by Western industrial societies into a profaned and pathological phenomenon." Comparing what you have read and heard of hallucinogenic drug use in "primitive" societies and in the U.S., do you agree with de Rios that the latter has been unhealthy and dysfunctional where the former was not?

Exemplary Student Papers

The list below are second paper submissions. All papers appear courtesy of the students named and are used with permission.

"Why in Baseball is Using Steroids Considered Cheating?" (PDF) Brian Chase
"How to Improve the National Drug Control Strategy to Win the War on Drugs" (PDF) Anonymous
"Methamphetamine: Dangerous Drug Craze and Toxic Pollutant" (PDF) Anonymous
"Truth or DARE?" (PDF) Paresh Agarwal
"Comparison of Exchange Students' Views of the Drinking Culture of MIT and Cambridge" (PDF) Amy Wu
"Emergency Contraception and Refusal Clauses: A Threat to Women" (PDF) Francesca Bartolomey
"Rights of Pharmacists versus the Rights of Women: The Morning-After Pill" (PDF) Melissa Tanner
"The Cocaine Sentencing Disparity" (PDF) David Levenson
"Is Taking Ritalin Cheating?" (PDF) Matt Angle
"Beavers and Prozac®: Antidepressants at MIT" (PDF) Analucia Berry
"Speed Culture in the Digital Generation" (PDF) Ona Kondrotas