Peter J Wilcoxen > MAX 401 Civic Engagement Action Plan Workshop

Op-Ed Essay

Due Fri 4/16.

This assignment focuses on developing an op-ed essay that would help build broader community support for addressing the problem you’ve identified. 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 (usually referred to as the "ask"). 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. Some links to online resources on writing op-eds are available at the URL below:


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.

As far as completing the assignment goes, please fill in the op-ed template in your channel in Teams with the essay and some key information about it and your target publication. Here are the sections in the template and instructions on how to fill them out.

Target publication

Please indicate your target outlet, which would usually be a newspaper or widely-read website.

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 when writing your essay. 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.

Proposed headline

What you'd like to see as the headline.


Please indicate what you'd like the reader to do in response to your essay. To be clear, this section of the template is not part of the essay itself (although the essay should definitely include the ask). Rather, you just need to state concisely and explictly what you're going to ask of readers.

Lede paragraph

Fill this in with your lede paragraph. It should be short and engaging: its job is to get the reader interested in reading the rest of the essay.

Body of essay

Fill this in with the rest of the essay. You should not repeat the lede. As is probably obvious, when you submit an op-ed you submit the complete essay with the lede and body together. They are separated in this template to emphasize how important that first paragraph is, and help you avoid treating it as just a plain vanilla introduction.

Word count

The total number of words in the lede and body together.

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