Public Issue: Pandora

The process of “joining a conversation” involves much more than simply voicing one’s opinion about a topic. Indeed, if we wish to say something genuinely informative—whether in everyday conversation or in formal academic research—we first need to discover what has already been said about the subject being discussed. We can do this in many ways: by reading, by observing, by asking questions, by listening. (You’ve already done this with your exercise for the most part.) These are often routine activities, but when we deploy them toward a specific research goal, they position us not only to gather information, but also, potentially, to say something new. Toward these ends, your aim in this assignment will be to build on the inquiry you began for Exercise I and compose an informative essay in which you report on a public issue. You will not be “taking a side” per se; instead, you will compose a well-balanced essay that helps readers deliberate about the topic in a conscientious and responsible way. Part of the skill, here, will be in showing that you possess the ethos of a writer who has done adequate background research and is able to present it in a clear and non-biased manner (as much as that is possible). The topic itself should 1) be relevant to a general audience, and 2) be compelling enough to invite debate among members of your audience. Please consider the following as you undertake this assignment.
Mission Principles
Identify a public issue that interests you; <–You’ve done this already.
Write down several reasons why the issue should be of interest to others; <–This too.
Conduct a preliminary search of your issue using web-based resources;
Gather approximately 4-5 sources related to your issue;
Summarize each source and make notes about the various situations in which they are embedded (e.g., authors, audiences, genres, contexts, etc.).

The Mission

Compose an introduction that frames and defines the scope of your essay; <– Re-situate yourself within your thesis. Add to it, reword it, make it better.
Offer readers some contextual background on the subject of your research;
Use sources gathered in your research (3-4) to compose informative body paragraphs; <–Basically use in text citations.
Help your audience understand the stakes involved in the issue and the limitations of the information you have used to report on it;
Conclude your essay by pointing toward additional research and analysis that can be done to better understand the issue as part of an ongoing conversation.

–>The audience for this assignment is your instructor, your classmates, and, in general, anyone who can access and read information online. You should anticipate that readers have some education and knowledge of the subject but do no necessarily possess a clear or complete understanding of it. <–

Specific Objectives

Your essay should:

Focus on a relevant and debatable topic;
Inform your audience about the topic;
Summarize and paraphrase sources with finesse;
Cite sources correctly using an appropriate citation style;
Be written in a clear, precise, and active prose style;
Include a title that reflects the spirit and scope of the essay;
Be a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 4 pages in length, not including references (double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman or Garamond typeface);
Be uploaded to Canvas as a Word document by the deadline (consult your course syllabus and schedule for details).

Informative essays, regardless of length, offer only a fraction of all possible views on a topic. Keeping this in mind, your objective is not to persuade readers toward a particular point of view; it is to inform them about your topic in a way that enables them to judge for themselves how to join the conversation that you are beginning to map out through your ongoing inquiry. Please contact me if you have questions about this assignment or anything else related to the course.

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