POLS 388H-P1: U.S. National Security Policy (Jones) - Spring 2005


Paper Assignment

Students enrolled in POLS 388H-P1 will complete all the requirements and fulfill all the expectations as described in the POLS 388-2 syllabus with the exception of completing a different and more challenging paper assignment.

For those students who do not wish to complete this assignment, the instructor will sign them into the regular POLS 388-2 section upon request.

The paper assignment is still worth 20 percent of the grade (as discussed in the syllabus), but honors students will write a policy paper of 10-12 pages (minimum length) rather than the seven- page paper dealing with a future U.S. national security crisis or challenge. The final paper should not exceed 15 pages. The paper should correspond to the following guidelines.

1. General Focus: Policy papers design and advocate a feasible (e.g., policy, strategy, plan, etc.) for a party (e.g., individual, group, organization, nation-state, etc.) confronted with a significant national security problem or issue. Therefore, papers must identify a problem, select an audience that has a stake in the problem, and propose and advocate an intervention to meet the problem. The main thrust of the assignment is advocacy over inquiry. Background information is important. The most important ingredient, however, is the paperís policy recommendation.

2. Contemporary Focus: The paper should formulate an actual prescription to a current problem. Therefore, the final draft should demonstrate a recognition and understanding of relevant current events. While this course focuses on U.S. national security, the paper can be addressed to a foreign audience. The audience is a matter of individual choice so long as the selected party has a clear interest in the problem under discussion.

3. Requirements: All the guidelines specified on pages 14-16 of course syllabus regarding format and presentation, research and documentation, quality writing and structure, writing assistance, research and substantive assistance, submitting the paper, and grading apply with the exception of the page-length (discussed above) and the source minimum. The source minimum is 10 solid sources as described in the course syllabus rather than five.

4. Structure of Paper: Each student may organize their paper as they wish. However, it is important to have basic subsections like the following:

Introduction (Problem Identification): This portion must identify the problem under study, state the writerís view of it, and explain why it is important and demands attention. Be sure to present a policy question to be answered. Also the audience to which the paper is addressed must be specified. This party should have a major role in solving the problem.

Background (Documentation Section): This is the most academic part of the paper. It is essentially used to demonstrate credibility and to set the stage for the remainder of the paper. This is where the writer illustrates knowledge of the problem or issue; shows he or she is attentive to breaking events; and establishes the historical and political context related to the topic. The reader should be provided with any information necessary to understand and accept the policy proposal.

Proposed Solution: This is the most important and challenging component of the paper. It should be clear, coherent, and creative. While this section's specific format will depend largely on the problem under investigation and the selected "policy paper model" (discussed below), there are some useful tips to consider. First, the proposal should be desirable and feasible. It is important to remember the audienceís interests, whether these concerns involve national interests, political concerns, societal needs, or personal agendas. Second, the more detailed the proposal, the more likely is will be treated seriously and ultimately adopted. Therefore, recommendations should be clear and concrete. Third, the policy should be memorable. Try to grab the readerís attention by packaging ideas and plans in a creative or interesting fashion. Fourth, the presentation of the proposal should be cogent and forceful. Members of the class should assume that they are ! ! in competition with other officials and want their advice to be adopted. Last, be sure the proposed solution is well supported with logic, evidence, and examples. The goal is to persuade the audience that the paperís recommendation is the best way.

Conclusion: Provide a clear, concise, and comprehensive conclusion. Assume a busy, senior policy maker could skim or ignore the entire paper, but still understand the proposal from reading the conclusion.

5. Policy Design: Beyond the basic structure of the paper -- introduction, background, proposal, and conclusion -- there are a number of ways to design the presentation, particularly tthe policy section. Here are some examples.


a. Medical Model

- diagnosis, prognosis, treatment (policy)

- perspective of mediation


b. Options Model

- There is agreement on the problem. (It has been around for a long time.)

- Several options have been available.

- discuss strengths and weaknesses of each alternative while making a case for your option

- "shoot down" various options until your course of action is left, then present and substantiate your plan in detail


c. Difficult Problem Model

- 'first steps' focus

- offer an approach to simply get started


 d. Discovery Model

- analyze the problem from the perspectives of the parties involved: what do they see as the problem or the main issue?

- find complementary interests (based on a review of the partiesí problem)

- present a treatment or experiment


e. Principal Obstacle Model

- focus on overcoming the principle obstacle to either achieving a goal or solving a problem

- this is a popular approach when dealing with things over an extended period


f. Active Opposition by Another Party Model

- focus on overcoming objectives of an opponent to a current policy or problem

- find a way to "bridge the gap," "break the ice," and win over the opponent


g. Pure Functional Model

- recognize commonality of interests (all want the same goal, then work backward to obtain it


Please see the instructor with any questions or concerns. Honors students are welcome and encouraged to discuss their paper topics with the instructor.