INSTRUCTIONS: Write a 7-8 page essay with an additional Works Cited page in MLLA
format. Select one of the following topics. Use a minimum of three secondary sources. These
sources must be scholarly articles or books found through academic search engines such as
JSORT or Academic Search Premier. Other sources may be used for current data or examples of
mainstream opinion (.com, .org, etc.) but these are in addition to the three scholarly sources.
Points will be automatically deducted from papers improperly formatted.
Many of you may have already written research papers; however, you may have been assigned a
review of research. A review of research is an essay in which you are required to report on the
information you gathered about a topic from multiple sources. The College Writing research
project requires that you demonstrate an ability to evaluate your sources critically and construct
your own message from the information gathered in these sources. To some extent, this means
you will voice your opinion and incorporate the voices of experts and scholars into your own
statement. Noentheless, you must still conform to the standards for academic prose. Your
opinion is based on solid research and reasonable warrants so it should not read like a personal
experience paper in the first person. You should not be the subject of the essay because that
would make it seem like you are voicing an unwarranted opinion based on anecdote and personal
preferences. You are encouraged however to think critically and use your sources for one or
more of the following objectives:
construct an argument for or against specific positions regarding your topic
criticize or support specific policies, ideologies, or social practices
undermine simplistic thinking about your topic (more guns make us safer)
expose weaknesses in “common knowledge” concerning your topic
suggest changes in policies, attitudes, or institutions that would help to alleviate problems
related to your topic
1. For your research, select an event of social, political, or historical significance. Find
scholarly criticisms of media reporting and commentary on this event. Explain to your readers
how the corporate media misrepresents facts and slants its commentaries in ways that support
partisan positions (official government policy, corporate objectives, racial or nationalistic biases)
as opposed to the good of citizens and/or the environment.
2. Write about war propaganda in media (news programs, motion pictures, popular music,
television shows). You may cite examples of media that rejects or criticizes this propaganda.
3. Write about current attempts at privatizing education. Privatization is presented as a
legitimate “fix” for the “failures” of our public schools. Does your research support or challenge
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4. Research and discuss problems with our food supply. Are factory farms and genetically
modified foods really the solution to world hunger?
5. Research and write about our water supply. Begin by looking into the “water wars” in
Bolivia, popular movements that defeated Haliburton’s attempt to take over an entire nation’s
water supply and then move into problems in water supply and privatization in the USA.
6. Investigate how the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have affected
environments and indigenous people. You may want to focus on a particular nation or group of
nations (Monsanto in India) or else take examples from around the globe. Arundathi Roy has
written a short but informative book about Indian damn projects with implications for all nations
(The Cost of Living).
7. Investigate advantages and disadvantages of universal, single-payer health care. Weigh the
differences and decide which you support.
8. If you are planning on teaching, you can turn this assignment into a proposal for teaching a
course on one of the topics suggested in these prompts. Research methods and content for your
subject matter and identify the grade level at which you would teach. Remember that you will
probably need to accommodate the demands of parents and administrators but at the same time
do not avoid taking risks.
RESEARCH ADDITIONS based on student essays from previous semesters
Was Nixon’s bombing of Laos legal? Did it have any chance of bringing victory in the Vietnam
War? (See “Secret War” and “Secret Archives” on Blackboard)
How has design (posters, billboards, flyers, etc.) been used for social activism or propaganda at
specific moments in history?
Is water desalinization a feasible solution to water shortages due to climate changes?
Explore the consequences of disaster capitalism in one of the specific instances noted by
Loewenstein and Klein.
Will charter schools improve education for American students? (See “The Myth of Charter
Schools” on Blackboard)
Contributions that women have made to social life have been largely ignored in textbooks
and mass media. Help to rectify this situation by researching and writing about one of the
very important women in American history. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was labor leader and
founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Francis Perkins Gilman was a
cabinet member in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet who was a major author of
the President’s New Deal. Find out why these women are important to our understanding
of American history.