Basic American Government Policy Issues Project
This project is designed for high school or college students, to walk them through writing a research paper on a government policy. It can be completed by spending an average of about an hour each week through a semester. However, some weeks will require more time and some less for the research.
If you are also enrolled in Boundary Stone’s Basic American Government Online Course, one day of most weeks is set aside for working on this project.
We use the free resource, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) for a writer’s guide. You may substitute or supplement with whatever writer’s guide you typically use.
The teacher should set some intermediate due dates to be sure the student does not wait until the end of the semester to try to finish this project.
You will follow several policy issues in the news and choose one to write a 5–10 page research paper analyzing policy options for that issue. One day a week in most weeks is set aside to work on this project in our online government course.
- Collect at least 25 news articles that discuss US policy, political events, policy formulation, political action, funding, or any subject discussed in the course in regard to the issue topics listed below.
- Pick five topics from the list below (or other topics after teacher approval) and find and read at least three articles on each topic chosen. Choose at least one local topic, and feel free to suggest, for teacher approval, additional categories that might interest you.
- Obtain a loose-leaf notebook/binder and divide it into five of the following sections with dividers. You can use even post-it note type dividers if you want.
- Keep reprints of articles you have read.
- Choose a topic and write a 5–10 page argumentative or analytical research paper on one chosen public policy topic. You should narrow your topic down enough so that you can thoroughly analyze it in 5–10 pages.
Possible Topic Areas
- Health Care
- Energy Policy
- Gun Control
- Campaign Financing
- Federal Budget/Government Spending
- Social Security
- Military Spending/Veteran’s Issues
- Immigration and Border
- Infrastructure Funding
- Environmental Policy
- Government Regulation (of a particular industry)
- Mass Transit (trains, buses, trolleys, etc.)
- Legalized Gambling (as a revenue source for education or other public service)
- Property Rights (including eminent domain)
- Jobs Creation
- Wage Regulation (including minimum wage and salary caps)
- Income Inequality
- Student Loans
- Any topic that is generating public protests or interest
You should use some sort of writer’s guide for writing a research paper. You may already be using a suitable resource. If you need a resource, one free resource is the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (often called the Purdue OWL). This link will take you to their portion for writing a research paper. You will be referred to particular areas throughout this project.
Before you begin collecting your final five articles, be sure to read about analytical and argumentative research papers and choosing a topic.