Assignment Overview

For your spring semester final, you will work independently or with a partner to design a social justice campaign around an issue that is currently affecting New Mexicans or other Americans. To successfully complete this project, you will need to conduct research, synthesize the top three claims from both sides of the argument, find evidence of the issue in current events, decide which side of the issue best fits your beliefs, and design a campaign with three things students can do to promote social change.

Assignment Objectives

Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to:

  • Research and summarize the history of a human rights issue by listing the historical progress of the issue.
  • Objectively analyze an issue by listing the three main claims from both sides of the issue.
  • Reflect on the local impact of this issue by connecting a news article to the local community.
  • Evaluate the validity of the claims and reflect on which side of the issue supports their best interests.
  • Design a persuasive advertisement promoting three actions students can accomplish to promote social change around the issue.

Assignment Requirements

  • Provide a brief history/overview of the topic.
  • Identify the two (or more) opposing sides of the issue.
  • Summarize the top three claims from all sides of the issue.
  • Present evidence of the issue in current events.
  • Explain which side you agree with the most and why.
  • Design a campaign that promotes three tangible actions for students to accomplish to help create change. Your campaign can be one of the following:
    1. Op-Ed Article for the Albuquerque Journal or Albuquerque the Magazine
    2. 60-90 second television PSA
    3. Series of three print advertisements for the City of Albuquerque
      • Billboard near I40 and I25
      • Full Page Spread for Albuquerque the Magazine
      • An Advertisement for the City Busses

Common Core State Standards

RI.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

RI.8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

RI.9: Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance  (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.

W.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. (A) Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. (B) Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

W.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Step 1: Select a Topic

Please select one of the topics below. For your convenience, I’ve created a page of research questions and keywords for each topic. Check out the page here. However, these questions are just starting points; I expect your research to take you beyond the points listed on this page.

Step 2: Conduct Research

Before you can develop your campaign, you need to be well informed. To help you start your research, I’ve provided terms and questions to consider above. However, please be aware that these questions will simply help you start your research; your research should take you in new and interesting directions not listed on this paper.

Step 3: Identify and Summarize Strongest Claims

In his autobiography, Charles Darwin said:

“I followed a golden rule that whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from memory than favorable ones. Owing to this habit, very few objections were raised against my views that I had not at least noticed and attempted to answer” (123).

When discussing a controversial issue, the most intelligent and persuasive individuals have something called perspective. In an academic capacity, perspective is the ability to objectively look at an issue or concept from all angles. In other words, people with perspective are able to put their own personal beliefs and values aside in order to consider the value behind conflicting opinions.

You must exercise using perspective by presenting the top three claims on all sides of your issue. If there are only two conflicting arguments, you must have six claims. If there are more than two conflicting arguments, you must have three claims for each argument.

Step 4: Evidence from Current Events

If people are to take action against an issue, they must know why it is important to take action. One of the best ways to raise awareness is to share stories of people being impacted by an issue. To do this, you will need to find a news article depicting this issue in current events. This article must be recent (within the last two years) and you must be prepared to explain how your issue is prevalent in the article.

Step 5: Pick a Side

Now that you’ve conducted thorough research, you must pick a side. Make sure you consider all of the evidence from both sides of the argument. Often, after conducting thorough research on a topic, people will find that their minds have changed. That’s okay, as long as you’re making an informed decision and not simply parroting others ideas and opinions.

Step 6: Design your Campaign

Your campaign must communicate three tangible actions students can accomplish to promote a goal related to your issue. You may choose one of the following options to communicate your three actions and to raise awareness about your issue:

Option 1: Op-Ed Article for the Albuquerque Journal or Albuquerque the Magazine.

Option 2: 60-90 Second Television PSA

Option 3: Series of print advertisements for the City of Albuquerque, including:

Final Checklist

Make sure you’re ready to turn in your assignment by double-checking your work! Use the checklist below to make sure your final presentation includes all requirements!

  • A brief overview/history of your topic – 10 points total
  • The three strongest claims from all sides of the argument (minimum of six claims) – 20 points total
  • Evidence from current events in the form of a news article – 20 points total
  • Your side of the argument with an explanation of why you made the decision you did – 10 points total
  • Your campaign article, PSA, or print advertisements – 40 points total