Reading assignments and preliminary writing exercises will help prepare students for major writing assignments. Each student will complete regular typed homework exercises in response to readings. These exercises should always be emailed to the instructor before class; students should also bring copies to class.

1 Introduction to the Class as a Writing Community; Why Write About Social and Ethical Issues? No readings

Why Write? (PDF)

Course Information Sheet (PDF)

Writer's Letter (PDF)

Utopia Writing Exercise (PDF)

Exercise 1 (see page 3 of the Essay 1 assignment PDF)

Essay 1 assigned.

Reasons to Believe: The Rhetoric of Classic American Political Speeches: Utopian and Dystopian Themes

Peer Review Training. Sample Student Essay-in-progress: "Not Saturday's Child" (PDF)

Kennedy, John F. "Inaugural Address." January 20, 1961.

King, Martin Luther. "I Have a Dream." 20 August, 1963.

MIT TechTV. "No One Writes Alone: Peer Review in the Classroom, A Guide For Students."

Homework 1: Select five quotations (10 in all) from the Kennedy and King speeches that you find particularly interesting or powerful.

Explain each choice in a sentence or two.

Course information sheet due.

The Emergence of Social and Ethical Values

Peer Review: Exercise 1

Edelman, Marian Wright. "A Family Legacy." In The Measure of our Success: A Letter to my Children and Yours. William Morrow Paperbacks, 1993. ISBN: 9780060975463.

Shepherd, Susan. "Daughters Without Borders." Angles, 2008.

Gregg, Joseph. "Que Será, Será." Angles, 2008.

Lee, Hailey. "Memoirs of a Modern Day Abolitionist." Angles, 2012.

Homework 2: Select five quotations from Edelman and explain each choice in a sentence or two. First version of Essay 1 due before the next lecture by email.
4 Workshop: Essay 1  No readings   Letters to workshop students due in class.
5 Representing Social Issues in Historical Context: Poverty and Wealth in the Industrial Era

Dickens, Charles. "Stave 1: Marley's Ghost." In A Christmas Carol. 1843.

This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.Carnegie, Andrew. "Wealth." (PDF) The North American Review (1889): 653–64.

Goldstein, Jacob. "Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached?" The New York Times Magazine. August 13, 2013.

Visit these websites:

Homework 3: Part 1: Select two quotations that capture Carnegie's central argument and two quotations that express Goldstein's view. Respond in a sentence or two to each quote.

Part 2: What connections do you see between Carnegie's 19th century vision, and one of the following contemporary organizations: Carnegie Corporation, Gates and Grameen Foundations, Kiva and Effective Altruism? (half a page)

Utopia writing exercise due.

Essay 2 assigned.

Oral presentation preferences due by email before the next class.

6 Documenting Social Issues: Poverty in the Industrial Era

Sontag, Susan. Excerpt from On Photography. Macmillan, 1977.

The History Place: Child Labor in America 1908–1912. Photographs of Lewis H. Hine.

Photographs of Jacob Riis.

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview.

Film excerpt from America and Lewis Hine. Directed by Nina Rosenblum. Cinema Guild, Color, 60 min. 1984.

Homework 4: Compare a Hine photograph with a Riis photograph. What are the similarities and differences?

Underline five quotations from Sontag for in-class discussion.

7 Writers Engage with Contemporary Social Issues: Homelessness: Contrasting Perspectives

Kozol, Jonathan. "Are the Homeless Crazy?" Harper's Essay, 1988.

Marin, Peter. "Helping and Hating the Homeless: The Struggle at the Margins of America." Harper's 274, no. 1640 (1987): 39–49.

The Use of Outside Sources in Narrative Essays (PDF)

Homework 5: Compare the perspectives of Marin and Kozol on homelessness (one page). Select three quotations from each for In-class discussion.

Bring in three contemporary photographs depicting homelessness from different perspectives.

Proposal for Essay 2 (first version) due by email before the next class.

Library Session in the Digital Instruction Resource Center

Peer Review of Essay 2 Proposals

 No readings    

Low Wage Jobs: Pathways Out of Poverty?

Peer Review of Essay 2 Proposals

Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Nickel-and-dimed: On (not) Getting by in America." Harpers 298, January 1999, 37–52.

Homework 6: Questions on excerpt, Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel and Dimed (PDF) Revision of Essay 1 due by email before the next class.
10 Low Wage Jobs: Pathways Out of Poverty? (cont.)

Yesilevsky, Anna. "The Case Against Sweatshops." The Humanist 64, no. 3 (2004): 20–21.

Kristof, Nicholas. "Where Sweatshops Are a Dream." The New York Times, January 14, 2009.

Homework 7: Questions on Kristof (PDF) Revised Proposal of Essay 2 due by email before the next class.
11 Living in an Aging Society: Benefits and Challenges

Emanuel, E. J. "Why I Hope to Die at 75." The Atlantic, October 2014.

Holland, Jimmie, and Mindy Greenstein. "The Atlantic is Wrong about Aging: Why our Anti-elderly Bias Needs to Change." Salon, September 28, 2014.

Homework 8: Questions on Emanuel, Holland and Greenstein (PDF)  
12 Writers Engage with Contemporary Issues: The Politics of Food Kenner, Robert, and Eric Schlosser. Food, Inc. 2008. Homework 9: Questions on Food, Inc. (PDF) Outline of Essay 2 and History / Background sections due by email before the next class.
13 Writers Engage with Contemporary Issues: The Politics of Food (cont.)

Pollan, Michael. "An Animal's Place," The New York Times, November 10, 2002.

Singer, Peter. "All Animals are Equal." Philosophical Exchange 1, no. 5 (1974): 103–16.

Homework 10: Questions on the ethics of eating meat (PDF)  
14 Writers Explore Contemporary Issues: Mental Health and Illness Excerpt of Kaysen, Susanna. "Toward a Topography of the Parallel Universe." In Girl, Interrupted. Vintage, 1994. ISBN: 9780679746041. Homework 11: Questions on Girl, Interrupted (PDF) First version of Essay 2 due by email before the next class.
15 Writers Explore Contemporary Issues: Mental Health and Illness (cont.) Thompson, Tracy. "Seeking The Wizards of Prozac." The Saturday Evening Post 266, (1994): 50–53. Homework 12: Questions on Thompson (PDF)  
16 Workshop: Essay 2  No readings    
17 Living in the Age of Mass Media: The Influence of Advertising

Jhally, Sut. This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader."Image-based Culture." (PDF) Gender, race, and class in media: A Text-reader. Sage, 1995.

Kilbourne, Jean. "Beauty…and the Beast of Advertising." Media & Values 49 (1990).

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. Directed by Adriana Barbaro, and Jeremy Earp. Color, 66 min. 2008. (Preview available from Media Education Foundation.)


Creating Childhood Consumers: Youth and Advertising

Introduction to Grant Proposal Writing: Identifying Needs; Designing Programs

 No readings In-class writing on Consuming Kids (PDF) Assignment 3 (Grant Proposal) assigned.

Grant Proposal Writing (cont.)

Peer Review Proposal Ideas

 No readings   Proposal idea for a public service project due.

Grant Proposal Writing (cont.)

Review Sample Student Grants

 No readings   Revised Essay 2 due by email before the next class.

Grant Proposal Writing (cont.): Budgets, Evaluation Plans and Abstracts

The Pitch: Oral Presentations on Grant Ideas

 No readings The Pitch (PDF)  
22 Workshop: Assignment 3  No readings Workshop: Assignment 3 (PDF) First version of Assignment 3 due.

The Pitch: Oral Presentations

Overview of the Grant Proposal Revision Process

 No readings    
24 The Pitch: Oral Presentations (cont.)  No readings Final Reflection Letter (PDF)  

The Pitch: Oral Presentations (cont.)

Course Overview and Evaluations

 No readings   Revised Assignment 3 and final reflection letter due.