Instructions for Social Problem Portfolio

Due: Friday, September 4, 5:00pm

Throughout the course, your group will compile a Social Problem Portfolio that you will "turn in" near the end of the course. You will have a chance to work in groups on your Wiki site every Thursday.

The social problem portfolio will allow each group to apply course concepts and ideas to a real-world problem. Through this process, group members will better understand the social processes underlying many disparate social problems.

Group Roles
I expect EVERY member to contribute to every portion of the project. However, members in each role listed below will be a contact point and coordinator for their aspect of the project.

Webmaster: coordinates the design and web content. For example, the webmaster will check that links work, suggest possible improvements to the design, and work with group members to allocate web tasks. Ideally, this person will have some computer and/or web site skills and enjoy implementing creative design ideas.

Panel Presentation Liaison: coordinates various pieces of the panel presentation in order to ensure that the panel runs smoothly. For example, the liaison will work with group members to assign each member responsibility for part of the presentation, keep track of time during the presentation, and work with the liaison from the partner group to coordinate the cross-group comparison aspects of the project. Ideally, this person will have some experience with in-class presentations.

Research Coordinator: maintains a list of topics/ideas that group members need to research in order to finish each section of the Wiki project and ensures that each group member has research tasks. Ideally, this person will be very organized and know something about available research-related resources.

The Assignment
Each group will create a Wiki page that describes four main areas related to their social problem:

1) Historical Emergence of the Problem

  • How has this issue become a social problem?
  • What aspects of the issue are problematic and for whom?
  • How have popular understandings of the problem changed in the last 10, 50, and 100 years?

2) Role of Institutions

  • What role do institutions play in constructing and maintaining the social problem?
  • How do specific institutions relate to the construction and maintenance of the problem?
  • How has the emergence of the social problem challenged social institutions?

3) Consequences

  • How has the emergence of the social problem shed light on the social nature of perceived individual problems?
  • How has the emergence of the social problem subordinated some types of experience?
  • Whose voices have become most prominent in the construction of, and attempts to solve, the social problem?

4) Potential Solutions

  • Given the context of the emergence of the problem, the role of institutions, and the consequences of the problem, how might we as a society begin to address this issue?
  • How might individuals attempt to address the problem?
  • Solutions may address any type of action, including, for example, policy/government action, social movement activity, individual resistance, and/or professional organizing.

The questions for each of the areas outlined above should help guide your thinking, but you do not have to address them all in your Wiki page. Instead, you should think about how you might answer each question and combine those answers into a coherent narrative that you present on your Wiki page. You must include course concepts in your descriptions.

Specifics on the Wiki form
Anyone with an internet connection will be able to view your Wiki page, so make sure to clearly define any terms that an outsider to the course may not know.

You must cite every source (for web pages, a link to the page is sufficient). Also, at the bottom of the page, you should create a brief section that recognizes each group member's major contributions.

In contrast to course papers, Wikis provide a creative space for visually presenting information. While the content of your page constitutes 80% of your grade, the other 20% will be based on the form. Be creative! Include videos, images, links, and whatever other form you can think of to get your information across (but don't forget to cite your sources).

Your final Wiki page should be one seamless, polished product involving contributions from each group member. You should label any charts and tables. Also, you might find it useful to organize your information using headings.

Specific Grading Criteria
Content (80%): The course grader and I will assess content based on the ideas you convey as well as grammar, spelling, and the general effectiveness with which you convey the information.

Form (20%): We will assess form based on creativity in presenting the information, including your use of visual aids like videos, images, charts, and tables. I strongly encourage you to experiment with presenting information in extraordinary ways. However, make sure that you still explicitly convey the information relevant to the assignment as outlined above.