MA 1 directions

Topic: Major Assignment 1 

General idea: Define a specific social problem and briefly review existing solutions to fix this problem (with sources)

Getting ready: During this course, you will choose one social problem to work with for the remainder of the course. Each of the major assignments will be based on that problem. If you are not sure what constitutes a social problem, consider this definition.

A social problem is a condition that impacts the lives of many people, and is perceived as negative. Not every concern is considered to be a social problem. There are four generally accepted benchmarks which must be met in order for a concern to be labeled as a social problem.

  1.  There must be wide public concern about the issue, and it must be discussed.
  2.  This issue must cause a gap between what is considered to be ideal life and what the reality of a situation is.
  3.  It must be a national concern shared by a cross-section of the national population.
  4.  People must be able to solve this condition. 


For example, some people find body art concerning.  They cite the permanent condition of the art, the lack of acceptance in some circles, and the poor way that body art ages.  However, it does not meet the four conditions identified above, so it is not considered a social problem.

Now that you understand what a social problem is, what should you do?

Step 1

Choose a social problem that interests you.  You may choose from the list in the first week or you may research and find another. Be CERTAIN that you care about this topic because you will be working with it all term.

Step 2

Email Dr. Lisa by this Sunday night to get approval for the topic.

Step 3

Research and learn:

  • the history of the problem (in other words, how did this become a social problem),
  • scope of the problem (just how big is it? How many people does it effect? Are there financial problems as a result or deaths?
  • why this problem matters to YOU,
  • what people are doing to solve this problem, and
  • which solutions are working and which are not and WHY in YOUR opinion.


Step 4

Take the information you gathered for Step 3 and turn it into a documented essay (also known as Major Assignment 1).  This essay is what will be turned in for a grade. 

The essay should have the following section headings within the paper:

  • Introduction and definition (How do YOU define this issue and why do you define it that way?)
  • history (How did this get to be problem? Is it man-made? Is it a natural event? When did people begin to be concerned about this?)
  •  scope (How big is this issue? What is the financial/social impact? What will happen if we don’t do something to help?)
  • why it matters to you (Of all the social issues, you chose this one. Why?)
  • existing solutions (All social issues have multiple existing solutions, so what is currently being done to “fix” this one? Some solutions may be aimed at the entire problem, but others may be just partial solutions.)
  • evaluation of solutions (What is working effectively? What is not working? WHY are they working or not working?)
  • conclusion


The essay will be approximately 3 -4 pages.  I will not mark down if you go over the page limit, but I will read very carefully if you are substantially under the suggested 3 – 4 page limit. If you already know how to document a paper with sources, please do so and include your list of sources at the end.  If you are not sure how to document the paper, just include the source right next to the fact that you are using