The principal writing and analysis assignment for the course will involve the selection of a current foreign policy issue relating to US interests in the Middle East. The student is to assume the role of foreign policy advisor to the President of the United States (the benevolent Professor Roberts) and will write a policy brief or policy recommendation regarding that issue. The student will analyze the issue in sequential writing projects, focusing in turn on:
The purpose of the sequential writing is to provide a context for close faculty-student interaction and directive and suggestive comments by which the student will understand the complexity of current issues and also the need for clarity and conciseness in the policy making process.
The assignment is done in four drafts, with further ongoing refinement encouraged. The main purpose is to guide the student during the semester through a comprehensive and ordered reasoning process preparatory to reaching an action-oriented recommendation, all done concisely in only ten to twelve pages of final product. This task requires condensing a great deal of essential information and a broad perspective into a short and carefully reasoned evaluative essay. The sequential nature of the project’s four parts provides for frequent instructor-student interaction on substance and style, to promote the students’ integrative and critical skills as they work to produce the final complete and polished draft, which is the final one to be graded. The sequence of the assignment follows these lines: