Social Movements in American Politics
"This is a hard course which coerces them into writing a pre-professional 20 page paper. I try to break it down into steps which build into a reasonably developed research paper. What I find with undergraduates is that they have problems of scale. Like, they say, 'I want to write about Presidential Power.' I say think really big and frame really small.
"So the 2 page proposal makes them think about the size of their idea; they have to justify their idea, connect it to the course readings, think about it in terms of scale and scope. We can’t spend a lot of time selecting a topic because of the length of the semester. So that’s the two page thing: scale, scope, let's get started. Then we do a three page literature critique: it’s often lost on students that you’re entering into a conversation and trying to get people to think differently about what they’re thinking about. You’re conversing with others; the academic community is a social one. Next a reverse outline—a sort of a mechanical thing to get them to deal with the outline format. The six-page version comes after: transfer your ideas about the literature to your personal topic selection. Part of it is mastering the literature, and part of it is spending time with something you really like." —Professor Daniel Kryder