550: Unit 4

History 550: Politics and Public Policy, Fall 2020

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Part IV: Research projects on public policy issues.

26. Meet in the library (virtually, see the LibGuide for HIS550). It's important that you read the following guidelines and follow them carefully. Your grade will depend largely on how well you follow these directions. For some ideas on topics, I've attached at the bottom of this page a word document with a long list of suggestions. Also, on THIS PAGE (link), I am posting readings on various political and policy issues as I find them for possible use next year. You are welcome to use any of the ones under the policy heading for your topic.

27. Research time

I will turn on the Zoom meeting. You will be working independently, but come to the zoom meeting if you have questions.

28. Research time

I will turn on the Zoom meeting. You will be working independently, but come to the zoom meeting if you have questions.

29. Monday, Nov. 16. Policy paper due. (Release Time; class does not meet). Turn the paper in via Canvas.

30. Research time

I will turn on the Zoom meeting. You will be working independently, but come to the zoom meeting if you have questions.

31 and the rest of the meetings of the term. Presentations. Please arrive to class ON TIME.

RESEARCH PROJECT/PRESENTATION: THE PARTICULARS. Please read carefully. To do well on this project you need to follow the guidelines.

Research: Be sure to include a variety of sources in your research. You may use newspapers, magazines, and online quality journalism (like Vox and Propublica or NPR), but also you should find information from some in-depth sources: books in the library stacks or scholarly journals in the library databases. (Note: the library subscribes to a book series called "Opposing Viewpoints" that contain articles on issues of contemporary relevance.) The library has created a special "libguide" just for this course; the reference tab has a few very useful sources. Also, consult the links on my Current Events Guide, including political opinion journals and the "various and sundry links." Dot-gov sources, think tanks, or online versions of well known periodicals are generally preferable to random blogs or dot-com sites, the source of which is unknown. Use websites of advocacy groups to understand their positions, but not for the facts. Use Wikipedia to chose a topic and find relevant sources, but do not use it for research. See this page for tips on how to use the internet more effectively.

Citation: You need to include a bibliography listing the sources you used in your research. See the citations guidelines document attached to this page, below and make sure you have proper bibliographical formatting (use Turabian/Chicago style, not MLA). When you cite Internet sources, be sure to list the sponsoring organization as well as the web address and the author and title. A BRIEF Annotation (one to three sentences) should tell me which kind of source among the different recommended types (see "Research" above), and the ideological slant. Never trust an internet site you are not familiar with. See my Research the Web guide for useful tips on how to evaluate Internet sources. I'm looking for you to demonstrate some savvy about the media and to have a well-balanced view of your topic.

Potential topics: See the document attached to this page at the bottom for some ideas. The list includes but is not limited to tax policy, environment, energy, drugs, crime, health, food, agriculture, welfare, social security, education (federal, state, local; early childhood, primary, secondary, college), housing. As you think about topics, be careful not to choose something that is so big and complicated that you can't possibly do justice to it in an 8-minute presentation. E.G. Instead of anti-terrorism policies, I had a student do a presentation one year on the question of whether to create a national ID card. He was able to do this topic very thoroughly in the time allotted. Instead of the whole federal tax code, you might do a presentation on the progressive income tax and marginal tax rates.

PRESENTATION GUIDELINES (a really clear roadmap of how to do well on this project)

    • CONTENT: Every presentation should cover the following topics about one issue of public concern:

      • 1. Basic and essential Facts. Provide your audience with what they need to know to be intelligent voters on this topic.

      • 2. Alternative policy positions. What do liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans think about the issue, and what policies do they support? And are their important viewpoints outside of or within the usual American political binaries.

      • 3. Your recommendation. As the foremost expert in the room, we want to know what you would have us do on this issue?

      • 4. Future prospects. Given the current political landscape, how likely is it that your recommendation or any other will be enacted?

    • Use relevant graphic images, not just text. These graphics should somehow stimulate interest or illustrate key ideas, and enhance viewers' understanding of the topic, give them a visual anchor, and keep them engaged. If you have some sort of pie chart or bar graph, make sure that you give the audience time to absorb and understand it. Provide whatever guidance they may need. Explain what the graph illustrates. Over the years I've noticed that graphs produced by the student themselves tend to be more relevant and easier to see than the ones they cut and paste from web sites or journals. If you don't know how to use Excel, try the create-a-graph website.

    • Use a laser pointer. If you have a complicated graphic that the audience is not likely going to be able to understand while looking at it and also trying to pay attention to what you are saying, guide them through it with a laser pointer or an on-screen cursor.

    • Where you do include text, keep it minimal and concise. Use bold, concise headings and large fonts; very brief bullet points (no more than three or four per slide); pithy (short), relevant quotations. One effective strategy is to use the animations tab to have the bullet points appear on the slides as you are discussing them (here's a site that shows you how to do that). That way the audience is not tempted to read ahead, and miss what you are saying.

    • Extended text should be delivered orally by you, the narrator, with the PowerPoint visuals as a backdrop. The PowerPoint should not be a projection of a speech that you deliver, but should provide visuals that support and enhance your oral presentation. You may read from a prepared text or speak from notes. Strive to deliver your talk using effective public speaking techniques; I will be assessing energy level, pacing, eye contact (with audience), articulation, projection, modulation (vs. monotone).

    • You may use Microsoft PowerPoint for PCs, Google Docs presentation software or create an online Prezi document, all of which can be projected from my PC, which will be connected to the projector in Meyer. If you produce a PowerPoint on a Mac, some of the features may not work on my PC. You are responsible for making sure the presentation works on a PC before sending it to me.

    • Deposit your PowerPoint presentation on Canvas. If you use Google presentation software, convert to PDF. This document should include your bibliography. I will enable you to share your screen during the Zoom session.

    • Disregard in 2020: AT LEAST 15 MINUTES before the class email me your PowerPoint presentation, share your Google presentation with me, or send me a link to your Prezi. In Google presentation, click on the green "get shareable link" button and paste it into an email to me. Don't use the "send link to people" function.

    • It's important that you do not go over the 8-minute time limit. It's up to you to keep track of the time and not go over. DO NOT MAKE ME HAVE TO STOP YOU. Using more than your allotted time cuts into your classmates' time. I'm going to weigh time management very heavily in the grade.

    • TED talks offer good examples of successful PowerPoints for the most part. The film, "An Inconvenient Truth," is essentially a feature-length, very good PowerPoint presentation. Here is one pretty good five-minute Ppt.

Presentation Schedule: See the Google document I sent you.