Poor professors! Every semester, they have to grade hundreds of essays from students, presenting the most basic views on topics that they’ve studied and taught for decades. Poor students! That makes it really tough to stand out from the crowd to get top marks.
One of the elements of standing out is to choose topics that bring a fresh perspective to familiar ground. Fortunately, there’s two really, really easy trick to doing just that. First, make the link between things that normally are regarded as very different. Choosing simple things will make your job much easier (but more insightful) than choosing very obscure, technical topics. Second, go meta… Apply a topic to itself (we’ll show you some examples below).
Putting these principles in action, here are some powerful topics that will stimulate your own fresh perspectives and keep your professor in an “A+” frame of mind.
How has the study of history changed over time, since Herodotus to Braudel?
Taking the principles of supply and demand incentives, how would an economist describe artists’ passionate pursuit of truth and beauty?
Biology studies how individual cells form a part of a broader organ that achieves a purpose. What parallels could we draw to the individual inhabitants of firms?
We value literature for its style, and ability to move us. Which scholars of literature themselves have been literary in their analyses, and enjoyable in their own rights?
Viewing language purely as a statistical phenomenon, devoid of meaning, what might surprise us?
Turning the study in on itself, what conclusions would anthropologists draw about their fellow species?
Physicists frequently talk about the beauty and harmony of their theories and equations. In so doing, do they hint at a deeper truth about the musicality of the cosmos?
If relativism claims that there are no absolutes, then does it not inherently refute itself? Does the paradox matter?
Charity seems at odds with harsh capitalism on a cursory inspection. But are charities not ultimately concerned with maximising their profits, just as much as are businesses?
The discipline of philosophy is notoriously difficult to define. How have practitioners defined and described their pursuit throughout its history? Where do they disagree, even today, on what their study is or does?
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