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EXPLORATORY SECTION: ENTERING THE CONVERSATION
• Write three to four pages in which you introduce the problem you’ve chosen to address (human trafficking) in your Policy Proposal. NOTE: You should view three pages as a bare minimum—it will be difficult to fulfill all the goals of the assignment in so little space.
• Convince your audience not only that the problem exists but also that it is urgent and severe enough to require immediate action and expenditure of resources.
• Provide all the history, background and contextual information (including concepts and definitions) that your target audience will need to understand the problem and, eventually, support your policy claim.
• Highlight the major controversies surrounding the issue.
• Also, discuss the most important causal (cause and effect) relationships for the persuasive purposes of your essay. This will show your readers that you understand the problem well enough to offer a solution.
• Show your audience what experts concerned with the problem are saying in the media.
• Use the tools for integrating source material (summary, paraphrase, quotation and synthesis) to show your mastery of the source material.
• Strive to engage with the sources in a meaningful way. You can do this by showing your agreement or disagreement with an author’s ideas, by pointing out similarities and differences between the sources, by effectively synthesizing information from multiple sources, and by clearly indicating to your reader why the source material you include in your paper is important.
• Use (and cite) at least FIVE- high-quality sources to support your points. Use at least two academic sources AND at least two substantial, high-quality journalistic sources.
• Include a properly formatted reference list.
• To show what you’ve learned from your research up to this point and demonstrate to your audience that you’ve “done your homework” and are qualified to talk about your issue.
• To lay the groundwork for your Proposal Argument.
• To familiarize your reader with the important causal relationships associated with your topic. (Your audience will only support your proposal if they believe you understand the causes and effects of the problem.)
• To begin generating material that can be incorporated into your final Policy Proposal paper.
• The quality and quantity of information provided. In other words, your success in providing a thorough and informative overview of the problem.
• The persuasiveness of your arguments about the nature, extent and severity of the problem. In other words, the effectiveness of your efforts to make the reader care about the issue.
• Your success in identifying the most important causal relationships for your Policy Proposal.
• Your ability to identify and explain causal relationships and concepts.
• The relevance and usefulness of the source material you present.
• How effectively you incorporate source material into your paper.
• The organization and structure of your paper.
• The clarity and concision of your writing.
• The number and seriousness of grammatical and mechanical errors.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND SUGGESTIONS:
• For the success of your final paper, it’s very important at this stage that you keep your focus narrow, given the limited space you have. It will be much easier to broaden your arguments slightly later on, if necessary, than to narrow your focus later.
• There is no standard form or outline for this assignment, but to receive a high grade it must be logically organized. Your paragraphs should be unified and have clear topic sentences, and you should use transitions as necessary. The sequence of paragraphs should be logical.
• While you should have an introduction, you don’t need a conclusion for the Exploratory Section. You can think of this paper as the first part of a larger whole.
• Making an outline before you start writing can be very helpful. The time spent will almost certainly pay off.
• Make sure to define the specific problem you want to solve in as much detail as you can. For example, the big-picture problem you want to address could be childhood obesity, but the specific problem you tackle in your paper might be the role of food advertising in the problem. Spend most of your time discussing the specific, narrow problem.
• Focus on the causal relationships most important to your policy proposal. For example, if you’re arguing that we need to regulate fast-food advertising to combat childhood obesity, you should focus on how advertising contributes to the problem rather than on the many other factors contributing to childhood obesity.
• Depending on your topic, you may need to mention solutions that have been tried or proposed.
• Make sure all the material you include is essential to your target audience’s understanding of the problem and, if necessary, say explicitly why it’s important.
• While you should have a good idea what your solution will be, remember that you’re only defining and describing the problem at this point and not yet going into the details of your solution. That will come in the Proposal Section.