What are homeless people’s rights?
What are homeless people’s rights?
Assignment: Write a 5 – 6 page, carefully researched essay that explores an important
question related to a contemporary social controversy. This is not an argumentative
paper. What we are concerned with is becoming an expert on a given issue. You’ll have
plenty of time to craft an argument later.
Your assignment is to research a controversy in order to understand the various
arguments that surround it. True controversies involve more than simply two “pro” and
“con” sides, so you should consider all the different groups of people who might have a
stake in the issue. People who are invested in an issue, and are affected by the outcome,
are called stakeholders. You’ll need to figure out who the stakeholders in your issue are,
and understand the reasoning behind their views. What are these people’s values? How
do these values affect the language and rhetoric that they use regarding the controversy?
Think of this essay as a map of, or a guide to, the different sides of your chosen
controversy. You’re exploring uncharted terrain, and narrating what you discover—the
important thing is to research every side of the issue, documenting the views of the
various stakeholders, and the arguments that they each contribute to the debate.
As you work towards choosing a topic, consider both the scope (local, state, national,
international, etc.) and the type (causal, policy, evaluation, application, etc.) of your
research question. Do you want to look at competing theories of why something happens
(e.g. causes of teen drop-out rates)? Or do you want to evaluate something (e.g. the
effectiveness of Oregon’s green energy measures)?
Your exploratory paper should be written as a narrative. Use your own voice to tell
the story of your research process. As you go along, explain how you found your
sources (online? at the library?), and how you evaluated their credibility. Who are the
authors? Why did you decide to use one source over another? What did you find out,
in your research, that you hadn’t originally considered? How does your research
affect your thinking about the issue?
Begin by giving a brief overview of the issue (what’s at stake?), and an explanation of
your interest in the topic. What questions do you have about it at the outset?
Then, introduce each of the stakeholders. Explain their connection to the issue, their
views about it, and give an example of the rhetoric that they use in the public debate.
This should be supported with evidence from primary and/or secondary texts.
Consider also any common ground or strategic alliances between stakeholders.
Be sure to stay focused on questions. How do your initial assumptions change over
the course of your research? What surprises you? What new questions do you have at
the end of the process?
By the end of your paper, try to answer the question: What are these people really
arguing about? Is it a problem of definition? A problem of assumptions or values? A
dispute over money, power, or resources? What do they agree on?
Your paper should include at least one source from each of the groups we discuss in
class: a scholarly book, a scholarly journal, a popular source (i.e. magazine or
newspaper), and a credible Internet source (not Wikipedia). You should include no fewer
than six (6) sources in your paper.
Your paper will be evaluated based on the following key components:
Clear and convincing statement of the importance of the issue and your investment in
Thorough consideration of the stakes and stakeholders.
Analysis of the stakeholders’ different perspectives, with explanations of their
arguments and rhetoric.
Identification of the “real conflict” and any common ground that exists.
Careful and effective consideration and incorporation of varied sources.
Grammatical correctness, fluency of prose, and proper MLA formatting and citation.
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