First, identify a problem that you would like to see solved. This should be a problem that has special interest to you but is manageable in
First, identify a problem that you would like to see solved. This should be a problem that has special interest to you but is manageable in scope. Problems that are too large or abstract will be difficult to write about in a detailed and precise manner given the length constraints of this assignment. If you have selected a large-scale topic (U.S. immigration, climate change, the pandemic, systemic racism or sexism, etc.), consider how you can narrow your focus to make your topic more manageable. For example, a proposal to end systemic bias in educational settings is much too broad for the objectives of this assignment. A stronger topic would call attention to specific manifestations of such bias in specific contexts (e.g., the lack of LGBTQ+ resources at the University Park campus). You may decide to build on one of your previous assignments for this class.
Proposals often contain one (or more) of the following argumentative structures: Something may be wrong that needs to be changed or corrected. Example: To provide a better climate for socializing, Penn State must forge a more productive relationship with the State College Downtown Association. To address the racial climate on campus, Penn State should provide resources for a student-driven task force centered on issues of diversity and inclusion. Something may be lacking that needs to be added. Example: Penn State should open up more study, exercise, or dining space for students during this pandemic. Something worthwhile may not be working properly and needs to be improved. Example: The campus masking program should be expanded to include a mandate for wearing masks in all public areas of State College. A situation may need to be redefined in order to find new approaches or solutions. Example: The benefits program for employees of Penn State’s HealthCare Association should be revised to create a fairer maternity/family leave policy. The dining commons should revise their menu to provide students with options packed with nutrients and vitamins, especially during this public health crisis. Conducting Background Research Before you get too far on your project, do some preliminary research to identify what solutions have already been proposed to solve this problem. What you like or dislike about these proposed solutions? Do you have something new to offer to these conversations? If no solution has been previously discussed, consider the reasons for why this is. Remember: if your audience doesn’t think a problem exists, you’ll need to convince them of that first. Identifying a Solution After studying existing positions and solutions surrounding your selected problem, formulate a solution that will address that problem. Your solution does not necessarily have to resolve the entirety of a problem. In your introduction, explain the problem and address an audience who can benefit from and participate in the solution your proposal addresses. Creating A Step-by-Step Plan Provide a detailed description of your solution in your body paragraphs. Your proposed plan of action should explore the costs and benefits (the feasibility) of your solution. Each step in your proposal must be well-researched and credible. You will need to include evidence that supports your claims and anticipates the objections that readers might have. Use the library resources available to you; moreover, you may also conduct field research to support your position (e.g., interviewing an expert, surveying a representative group of people, observing patterns). At least one of your outside sources should focus an alternative solution to your problem or should speak to why this problem has not already been solved.
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