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Final Exam Paper - Contemporary Public Issues

In order to receive a passing grade in this course students must complete one of two projects. The first is 25 hours of community service. The second is a research paper. The following sheets describe the format for the research paper. The paper must be at least 4 pages long. It is expected that all papers will be of a quality befitting that of students in the second semester of their senior year. Proper citation form (in text citation and works cited page) must used. Papers not using proper citation form will receive a failing grade. Papers must be carefully proofread and edited. All papers must be typed, double spaced with one inch margins. There must be a neat, plain cover page.

Select an issue from the attached list or suggest an alternative. Each paper must include the four element below. The fifth and sixth elements are a bonus.

1. Background

  • Describe the issue. Who, what, when , where, why, etc.
  • Explain why this issue is a matter of public concern. Describe how the needs of society are involved.
  • Explain how individual rights are involved.

2. Interest Groups/Opposing Sides

  • Identify those organized interest groups which have taken opposing sides on the issue.
  • Clearly present the arguments of the opposing sides.
  • Describe the potential consequences of implementing each side's position.

3. The Judiciary

  • Describe how the federal courts have dealt with this issue in recent years. Cite cases, dates and decisions.

4. Your Plan of Action

  • Propose a plan for addressing the issue or solving the problem. Clearly state why your solution is better than the alternatives.

5. The Position of Public Officials (Bonus)

  • Ascertain the position of one or more elected officials on the issue you have chosen. Explain his/here position and the rationale behind it.

6. Presentation (Bonus)

  • An in class presentation may be made. The presentation must explain to the class all of the elements required by the paper and must have a visual aid of some sort. The presentation must be at least 10 minutes long. Students working on the same issue may do their presentation together but each must hand in different original papers. I will look very carefully to make sure the papers are different in these cases!

Contemporary Public Issues


1. burning the American flag be prohibited by a constitutional amendment?

2. there a constitutional amendment forcing the government to have a balanced budget?

3. presidential campaign contributions be strictly limited and/or publically funded?

4. condoms be distributed in schools?

5. smoking be banned in ALL public places?

6. there be term limits for members of Congress?

7. a constitutional amendment be passed to deny automatic citizenship to the children of illegal aliens?

8. all abortions be banned?

9. English be made the official language of the United States?

10. hate speech be censored?

11. pornography be censored on the Internet?

12. public schools conduct organized school prayers?

13. the sale/use of marijuana be legalized?

14. there be deeper cuts in defense spending now that the Cold War is over?

15. government sponsored or mandatory employer paid (only those businesses over 50 employees) day care be provided for children of working parents?

16. assisted suicide for the terminally ill be legalized?

17. all those requesting a marriage license be tested for AIDS?

18. preferred treatment be accorded to minorities for college admission or job placement?

19. those who lose civil suits be forced to pay for the cost of the trial?

20. there be a death penalty?

21. drug testing be performed routinely on high school athletes?

22. those sentenced to state and federal prisons be required to perform more hard labor and be restricted in access to cable televison, exercise facilities, the Internet, libraries, etc.

23. we try to build an international space station.

24. there be a nationally sponsored health care program?

25. the ownership of assault weapons be banned?

26. all gun ownership be banned?

27. employers be able to test all employees randomly for drug use.

28. homosexual couples be allowed to adopt children?

29. homosexual couples be allowed to legally marry?

30. women be allowed to perform combat roles in the military?

31. homosexuals be allowed in the Armed Forces?

32. adoption record be remain sealed regardless of the wishes or needs of the adopted child?

33. the US lift the economic embargo against Cuba?

34. the US continue to provide economic aid to Russia?

35. industrial polluters be forced to pay for toxic waste cleanups?

36. the US act to reduce global warming?

37. the US raise trade barriers to help protect American jobs?

38. the US revoke China's "most favored nation" trade status?

39. the US send large scale economic aid to the nations of Sub Saharan Africa?

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