Final essay requirements: I want you to write about a societal issue that you ca

Final essay requirements: I want you to write about a societal issue that you care about. This can be either on a local or global level, and related to anything that matters to you and the world such as, health, education, politics, labor, the environment, technology, etc. The challenge will be to find an issue that is important, AND that already has some solutions in progress.
Let me explain: most of the time when a student is asked to write about a social problem in the world, they write 6 pages articulating how big the problem is and then finish with a short paragraph about a possible solution. This paper is going to be the opposite of that. You are going to briefly and succinctly describe the problem, and then most of the paper is going to be showing some new and innovative solutions to the problem that already exist, and how they offer a blueprint for larger change.
Let’s say, for example, I want to write about some problems I see in education. First, I need to figure out what specific aspect of education I want to look at because there are many. so I decide to write about class size because I think having smaller class sizes helps students get a more quality education.
Well, instead of spending five pages showing all of the different problems there are with overcrowded classrooms, I am going to summarize the problem, and then begin to look for solutions. I want to find blueprints of innovative programs that have already been discovered, and are working, even if only on a small scale. I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. I want to look at Ted Talks. I want to look at other countries to see if anybody is doing things better abroad. I want to google things like, “Innovative ways to decrease class sizes,” and “best student teacher ratios globally.” I am looking for inspiration, innovation, and hope. And if there are no innovative solutions to the problem I have chosen, I will probably choose another subject until I find one that does. The basic idea here is that, despite the difficult state of the world right now, there are also many amazing things being done, and so I want you to find out what they are and share it.
Here is just are some examples of topics students have covered over the years, alternatives to standardized testing, drinking water, homelessness, digital privacy, affects of social media, mental health solutions, the electoral college, human trafficking, health care, minimum wage, freedom of speech, alternatives to fossil fuels, etc. etc. etc. The idea is to find something that is genuinely interesting to you, but if you need help with ideas, don’t be afraid to email me for help finding a good topic. Also, keep in mind that I don’t grade people on their political ideology, but on the quality of their reasoning and writing. I have given students A for papers that have been pro-choice and right to life, as long as their reasoning makes sense from their frame of values and beliefs, which I cannot and do not intend to change.
Below you will find a breakdown of all the different elements of your final paper with tips on how to go about it. Honestly, I would make sure I could find innovative solutions to the problem before I settled on that topic so that you don’t waste your time starting a paper only to have to start from scratch because you don’t have the most important part of the essay.
The only thing I want you to do this week is find a topic and possible solutions so that you can talk with me if you need help. I just want to make sure you know what you are doing, and where you are going. The rest of this paper will finish on you own time, and, as I said, will be due the last class before finals week. I have been very impressed by the overall quality of writing, and intellectual growth I have seen in this class, and this is a chance to put it all together. Below is a more specific outline of what I am looking for, but don’t forget it should all flow together as one beautiful paper in the end.
Part 1: The hook 1-2 pages
Nobody is moved by pure facts and figures, and so “a hook” is a way to bring your reader into your topic from a more personal angle. This can either be a personal essay about how and why you became interested in your topic or maybe a narrative about somebody who is directly affected by it. The idea is to give a human face to the problem you are talking about, instead of just facts and statistics. By now, everyone is quite good at writing personal narratives so this should not be a problem. This part can also be less formal and not use as many power words and transitions.
Here is the basic tone of what this should sound like:
The first time I thought about the homelessness I was seven. My father and I were walking downtown when a homeless man asked us for some change….etc.
OR
Coral is nine, and lives in Indonesia. She does not go to school. Instead she works in a textile factory on the outskirts of her village making shirts…etc.
Part 2: Summary of the problem 1-2 pages
This part is where you are going to switch to a more academic tone, and give a proper summary of whatever the issue is that you are talking about. Make sure you define all key terms needed to understand your subject and that are not common knowledge. Most of this should be paraphrasing, but I would also like this part to include at least two quotes from two different sources in order to show that the problem is real, and needs addressing. The three basic things used for this kind of writing are quotes from experts, quotes from statistics, and quotes from studies.
Here is the basic tone and structure for this part:
Over the past ten years, Opioid addiction has come to the forefront of American consciousness, as the amount of individuals who abuse drugs that contain opioids has increased by ….%…etc.
Some of the most common legally prescribed drugs containing opioids are oxycodone, fentanyl, and…. Currently, there are an estimated………………………….of addicts in the United States.
Pro Tip:
Sometimes when I am writing a research paper of this kind, I will separate the writing from the research, so that I don’t get bogged down on the internet. I don’t know how much opioid addiction has increased over the last ten years off the top of my head, so I just leave that part blank, along with the estimated number of opioid addicts in the United States. This accomplishes three things. First of all, I don’t get bogged down on the internet searching for things, and second when I do go to the internet, I now know exactly what I am searching for, and it will be easier for me to focus my hunt for quotes. Thirdly, it allows for me to keep the flow of my writing going because I know basically what it is going to sound like even before I have filled in the research blanks. The only danger is if there are no facts to back up what you are saying, so that is why it helps to already know something about the topic you are writing about, and I do know that opiod addiction has grown, though I am not exactly sure by how much as this point in my writing.
It took me many years to figure this technique out, but I have found it works very well.
Part 3: Thesis statement (1 sentence)
Now that you have hooked in the reader with your personal narrative, and given them a summary of the problem with facts and figures, it’s time to tell them there is hope, and there are solutions to the problem. I am going to ask that you find two different solutions, so your thesis should give me an overview of both of them, so that the reader knows what to expect. I would also probably save the strongest of the two solutions for last.
Here is the basic idea of what your thesis statement should look like:
Though vaping is a serious problem that is affecting the lives of millions, it is important to look at some positive solutions to addressing this problem. Consequently, I would like to give an overview of current legislation that has been put forth to curb the problem via regulations, as well as a student lead campaign in Arkansas called, “Vape Free Youth.”
This is the general idea of what your thesis statement should sound like, and here is a template you can steal if writing thesis statements is difficult for you. They seem like a small thing, but I can’t stress enough how important they are to academic writing. My hope is that after you are finished with this class, you won’t need them anymore, but there is no shame in using them either.
Though…………………………is a serious problem that affects………………… it is important to look at some positive solutions to this problem. Consequently, I would like to give an overview of………………………………..and……………………………
Part 4: Summary of solution and challenges example #1 2/3 pages
This is where you summarize for me the first solution, and also talk about some challenges this solution faces. This should be your paraphrased overview of the solution that is peppered with at least 2 quotes from the original source that support the effectiveness of the solution. (Think about it, if somebody offers you a solution to a problem, you are going to want evidence it works) I would also like you to add some of the limitations of this solution, and at least one criticism or challenge this solution has or is facing, (many times this could simply be lack of funding) since no solution to a complex problem is ever going to be perfect.
The summary of the solution and challenges should sound something like this:
So one can see that providing a template based writing format for students has in fact shown to increase paper completion rates by over 20% (Stanton 15) This seems much better compared to leaving students to what professor Jasper Reed calls, “The anxiety of the blank page” (25). The template based teaching method is not without its critics, however, and some have argued that it is stifling creativity and forcing students to think within a box…etc.
Without giving some critical feedback, papers feel more propagandist than genuine, so it is important to give some critique, unless of course, you are being paid for writing propaganda!
Part 5: Summary of solution and challenges #2 (2/3 pages) This is the heart of your paper!
Part 6: Conclusion (1/2 to 1 page)
The conclusion is where you remind the reader what you have just talked about, and what you learned from the research, and where you see the most hope. Then, I would like you to end with a positive quote from somebody intelligent.

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