Written Assignments

The written requirement for the course consists of two memos and a request for proposals (RFP) focused on one of the major sections of the course: (1) Setting the Framework, (2) Housing and Community Development, and (3) Economic Development, Work and Jobs. The due dates appear in the calendar. There will be an "optional" memo on the 4th section of the course (Beyond Housing and Economic Development) for those wanting to improve their grade.

Each memo-exercise will provide one or more "cases" from which you will select one on which you will write a memo to your "boss" in response to the central issue framed in the case.

For example, you may be the policy advisor to a mayor, a consultant to a community-based organization, or a program head in a national intermediary. The "case" will frame a situation facing your boss. S(he) will ask you for your advice which will be given in memo form. The theory here is that the learning you have done in each "section" of the course can be the foundation of a compelling response.

Memo writing is something you are going to have to do, if you haven't already. Finding a way of connecting your knowledge from 11.401 to the world of practice is a good and necessary thing to do.

In each memo you will be asked to write four pages of tight, concise, pointed prose telling "your boss" what you think of the issue(s) s(he) has posed and why. In that response you should consider the following:

  • the differences among analysis, exhortation and recommendation
  • the need to back up general statements with evidence grounded in specifics
  • the importance of stating up front the route your memo is taking: i.e. a clear introduction and road map as to what follows
  • the value of acknowledging limitations to your approach, if there are any, and  the importance of clarity.


Sample Memo (PDF)

Tips on Writing a Policy Memo

Bardach, Eugene. The Eight-Step Path of Policy Analysis: A Handbook for Practice. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Academic Press, 1996. ISBN: 0965290301.


All responses are courtesy of the student named and used with permission.

Memo 1 (PDF) Arah Schuur (PDF)

Student 1 (PDF)
Memo 3 (PDF) Arah Schuur (PDF)

Richard Blanchet (PDF)
Hippocratic Oath (PDF) Sara Nafici (PDF)