Prompt in Brief:
Define the most pressing problem in higher education today, make an argument about the cause of this problem. Use course readings and background research to contextualize the problem and use higher education news sources like the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed to support your argument about the causes of the problem. Essays should be ~1000 words.
Use this Outline:
- Background on the problem
- Theoretical framework
- Assessment of the problem and its cause
- Conclusion (including recommendations for what the reader should do next)
Use this Research Process:
STEP 1: Identify one general problem you wish to examine…
See below for a list of potential problems to address in your essay. You need not limit yourself to ideas from this list.
- Adjunct Faculty
- Closure of liberal arts colleges
- Diversity and Racism
- Environmental Sustainability
- Growth of For-Profit Colleges
- Rising tuition costs
- Sexual Assault and Title IX
- Student loan debt
STEP 2: Do some background research on this problem…
- What are some of the key cases or examples used in debates about this problem?
- Who is affected? How many people are affected?
- How long has it been a problem?
- What are the various positions taken in debates about this problem? Look especially for debates about what is the cause of the problem or suggestions for solving the problem.
In your Google results, pay particular attention to the news outlets covering the issue. You may even want to filter for just news. In your general Google results, also note of which organizations are advocating for this issue and what positions they take.
STEP 3: Identify your theoretical/scholarly framework…
Which author from the syllabus can best help you explain why this issue is a problem and should be addressed? Its unlikely that there will be a reading that specifically addresses the current problem you are describing, so this section is where you will assert why this problem matters in the broader context of the meaning / purpose of higher education.
STEP 4: Choose and assess three articles from one or more of the following higher education news outlets.
Choose articles that best capture the issues raised in your background research, paying particular attention to the differences in perspective or stance among the articles you’ve chosen.
STEP 5: Assert your own argument about the causes of the problem based on the background research, the theoretical framework, and the articles you assessed. Go back to the first paragraph and revise it to tell the reader in advance what your argument will be. Make sure all the following paragraphs support your argument.
STEP 6: Conclude with what actions the reader can or should take based on your assessment of the problem. These actions could include suggestions for further research, policy making, or civic action.
Here are qualities that I will be reading for:
- Provide background for a reader who has not yet considered this problem.
- Concepts and arguments from the readings should be fully explained. Don’t think of your professor as your reader. Instead imagine your reader is college educated but has not read these authors or been in our class discussions.
- Essays should have a clear thesis statement or argument and a “hook” that draws the reader’s attention to the relevance of the argument. This argument or thesis should reference concepts and arguments from the readings to date.
- Essays should also include a consideration of a counter argument or alternative perspective as a means to clarify the main argument.
- Essays should not be confusing or difficult to read. If you feel lost in a sea of your own words, ask a friend to read a draft and tell you where they need to re-read, where they zone out, or what doesn’t make sense.
- Essay concludes with suggestions for further lines of inquiry or action that may be taken based upon the argument.