NOTE: All assignments must be submitted to the corresponding dropbox in elearning.
Assignment #1: Seeking balance while taking sides. Due 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 13.
Your assignment is to listen to two podcasts (actually segments within each) that are structured to present competing views on key issues without ranting, shouting, and making up facts. The first is Left, Right and Center from KCRW. The host is Josh Barro, a journalist who styles himself as a centrist. He always has at least two guests, one a conservative and one a liberal. The second is The Argument, a podcast featuring three New York Times columnists. Frank Bruni and Michelle Goldberg are liberals while Ross Douthat is a conservative. Similar to Left, Right and Center, the idea is to debate issues in an informed and civil manner.
Pick one episode from each progam and listen to the assigned segment. Decide which participant in each case is the most persuasive to you. Tell us:
Note: only The Argument provides written transcripts, so if you have impaired hearing, read two of those segments.
Left, Right and Center (choose one):
The Argument (choose one):
Write 300-400 words, double-spaced with only your name and the words "Assignment #1" at the top. Pay attention to writing quality (I will). In addition to writing quality, I will judge your paper based on the three questions listed above. (The side you take in the discussion is irrelevant to me as long as you justify it.)
Assignment #2: Election polls. Due 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 4.
Go to one or more news sites on the web and look for articles on election polls. Find at least three that provide details about the sample and at least some of the questions asked. Use what you learned in class this week to assess the quality of the polls. What makes them good or weak? Examine them according to each of the criteria we discussed. Provide url links to each of the polls you examine (not counted in the word count for the assignment).
Write 300-400 words, double-spaced with only your name and the words "Assignment #2" at the top. Pay attention to writing quality (I will). In addition to writing quality, I will judge your paper on how well you apply what you have learned about polling to the polls you examine.
Assignment #3: Campaign language and imagery. Due 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 11.
Go to the youtube sites for Donald Trump* and Joe Biden. Watch at least three commercials or speeches for each. How are the candidates or their surrogates using words and images to convey a message? And what messages are they conveying?
Write 300-400 words, double-spaced with only your name and the words "Assignment #3" at the top. Pay attention to writing quality (I will). In addition to writing quality, I will judge your paper on the quality of your analysis.
Provide the url for each youtube video at the end of your paper. (They will not be included in your word count.)
* NOTE: many campaign commercials have disappeared in recent days and his site has become dominated by his bout with Covid. Scroll through the MAGA link to find short excerpts from his speeches and use those.
Assignment #4: Social media and political discussion. Due 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 25.
Scroll through the social media site of your choice (I suggest Reddit – especially, r/politics – Facebook or Twitter, although you're welcome to make the case for another one). Find three political postings that you think do not fare well when critically evaluated and critique them. Note: this is not about whether you agree, but about applying critical thinking skills to the posts.
Write no more than 300-400 words, double-spaced with only your name and the words "Assignment #4" at the top. Pay attention to writing quality (I will). In addition to writing quality, I will judge your paper on how well you apply your critical thinking skills.
Assignment #5: The election. Due 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 8.
Critically think about the outcome of the election. Put your critical thinking skills that you have learned this semester to work in analyzing the presidential campaign. How you do so is up to you; I do not have a predetermined expection.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6 UPDATE: The election grinds on and on and on… We may very well not know for sure who won by Sunday's assignment deadline. Furthermore, some of you are itching to get it done. For that reason, don't worry about who the victor is. You can still critically think about the last two or three days of the campaign, election day itself, and the aftermath that we're still mired in. Keep in mind that you will be graded on how well you use the critical thinking skills you have learned this semester. Look back over the topics we've covered to remind yourself and show us how well you can apply some of them to what has happened this week.
Write 500-600 words (<--- note the word count; it differs from previous assignments), double-spaced with only your name and the words "Assignment #5" at the top. Pay attention to writing quality (I will). In addition to writing quality, I will judge your paper based on the application of your critical thinking skills.
Final Assignment: Annotated bibliography.