MAX 401 Teaching Team > MAX 401 Civic Engagement Action Plan Workshop

Op-Ed Outline

Due 10/25.

This assignment and the next one focus on building broader community support for addressing the problem you’ve identified. For this assignment, please choose a target outlet (usually a newspaper or widely-read website), and write out a topic-sentence outline for an essay that could run in that publication’s op-ed section. In the next assignment you’ll write the actual essay.

The target should be a publication that would reach people who relevant for solving the problem you’re addressing. Those people could be individual decision makers you hope to sway, or members of their staffs, or members of the public who would make donations, or who would contact their elected officials, or who would vote in a particular way on a referendum, and so on.

Be sure to read the information your target outlet provides on unsolicited op-eds and follow its style guides. Also, read several previous op-eds published by the outlet to get a feel for what appeals to the editors, both in terms of content and style. Among other things, you’ll usually find that op-eds use much shorter paragraphs than academic paper. In the New York Times, for example, each paragraph is usually 50 to 70 words split into 3 to 7 sentences per paragraph.

In general the op-ed should clearly state the problem and provide a clear, compelling argument for a specific, concrete action that should be taken. In constructing your argument, you may want to draw on work you have done in MAX 301 and 302 as well as other coursework and research you have done.

Be sure to avoid writing an op-ed that only goes as far as hand-wringing: that is, asking the reader to care about the problem but not asking for support for a particular solution. A good op-ed should be a call to action.

Some links to online resources on writing op-eds are available at the URL below:


Submitting the assignment:

Please list the target outlet in a separate line at the top of the page and then provide a numbered list of topic sentences (each on a different line).  Turn in a copy on Blackboard and also bring 5 copies to class. Part of class will focus on providing you with feedback to help you improve the argument underlying your essay.

Site Index | Zoom | Admin
Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 10/11/2019