Unit II Writing

Your Unit II assignment will consist of three elements: a topic summary, a power map, and a companion research guide. These will be submitted to your course Drive folder, preferably in a single document (though that document can link out to external documents).

Topic Summary and Power Map (5 points)

In 200-250 words, summarize a social problem you’d like to explore for your Unit II and III writing. You have a lot of leeway in choosing what topics to tackle for this, but I recommend framing your topic around a question that recognizes an obstacle to your goals. For example, if China Mieville is interested in the environment, he might ask “Why are we so slow to intervene in the environmental crisis?” If Greg Hershey is interested in resident rights in Richmond, he might ask “Why do community members feel they are at odds with their neighboring university?” Their individual summaries, then, would describe the problems they are witnessing and lead up to the question that will guide their subsequent power map and research guide.

Once your topic is framed, you’ll create a power map that explores the actors and institutions that contribute to the contradictions you’re focused on in your research. Mieville’s map would give particular attention to mapping those with power (contributors to the environmental crisis and organizations dedicated to addressing it) as well as those affected by power relations as they exist (communities struggling with the effects of climate change, consumers, etc.). 

Power maps should illustrate power holders and also broader stakeholders — those who are affected by current circumstances and those who would be affected by changes and solutions. Your map should illustrate both hard and soft power. Mega bonus to anyone whose map includes dominant narrative assumptions (this isn’t required, but will be helpful to you in Unit III).

Research Guide (10 points)

Finally, your Unit II assignment will include a short research guide to support your understanding of both your topic and your power map. Rather than reflecting a series of general resources on your topic, your research guide should be anchored in the elements and relationships reflected in your power map. If, in Mieville’s map, it becomes clear that many environmental organizations are funded or governed by contributors to the climate crisis, his power map should include documentation of those relationships and analysis of the contradictions they represent. One source might simply be the board of directors of a nonprofit. Another source might be an article about the efficacy of non-profits whose boards represent conflicting interests.

Your research guide should include 6-8 sources. For each source you should include a bibliographic citation, an apx. 200 word summary of the source with a statement of the source’s relevance to your overall subject matter and a note of any particular comparative value with other existing sources.