This short assignment (minimum 500 words) will help establish a foundation for the next several weeks of class and our upcoming assignments. These assignments will ask you to analyze sources focusing on a specific topic; our first assignment here asks you to begin thinking about the topic you want to research and analyze further. You should submit your paper as an attachment via email before class the day it is due.
For our purposes, you should frame your topic as a question that you want to study further. The main criterion for the topic is that it should be something that people have written about from different perspectives. Our goal is to better understand the range of perspectives people have on this topic and why they think the way they do. Later in the semester, you will have an opportunity to offer your own perspective on the topic, but first we want to better understand what other people think.
Your thinking toward a topic could go in a few directions. You can focus on something more serious, something related to politics or that otherwise has broader social importance. The following sorts of research questions might fit here: “How can we best address poverty in rural America?” “What forms of energy production are best for the environment?” “Does social media benefit democracy?” “What should the NFL do to protect and address player safety?” “Should we provide more or less funding for the police or the military?” “What sort of changes should be made to higher education?”
Alternately, you can focus on something more “fun” or lighthearted, something related to culture or other interests you have. The following sorts of questions might fit here: “Do videogames promote learning?” “What qualifies as ‘prestige television’?” “Are social media influencers good role models for teenagers?” “How should we define and characterize Generation Z and other generations?” Again, just about anything that can be framed as a debate with different perspectives that we can research should work.
Regardless of what sort of topic you focus on, your proposal should address the following prompts:
- Describe your topic. What research question does your topic address? What is your topic about? What interests you about the topic?
- Why is this topic important? How would we benefit from addressing this question?
- Who is invested in this topic? Why does the topic matter to different people or different groups of people?
- You will do research to get a better sense for the perspectives people have on this question, but what is your sense for the different perspectives people have at this point? How do people respond to this question in different ways? What ideas, beliefs, values, and assumptions lead people to different perspectives?