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Essay Assignment #3: Argumentative Essay

FYS Winter 2015


Arguments are central to American democracy and its institutions of higher learning because they help
create the common ground that is sometimes called public space. Fields inside and outside the academy
value reason and welcome arguments (Maimon, et al., A Writers Resource 127).

ASSIGNMENT: This assignment asks you to venture into the public space Maimon, et al.,
describe by constructing an argumentative essay in response to any topic raised in this course.
Essays could respond directly to topics raised by the readings, or might respond to an issue
addressed by the readings and class discussion. As the final assignment in FYS, this essay
asks you to practice summary, analysis, critique, and good argumentative writing, all of which
you employed in the first two essays. This time, however, you have more leeway in the choice of
topic and in the development of the argument itself.
AUDIENCE: Think of the audience for the paper as a community of thinkers (like our class and
those in the community/communities who are affected by the topic/issue you address), some of
whom will agree with your position and some of whom will not. (That community of thinkers, by
the way, includes the authors of the texts you use, all those who have read the texts, and those
who havent read the texts but consider the issue to which you are responding important.)
TOPIC SELECTION: What conversations left you wanting to learn more this term? What issue
or issues do you feel were not given enough attention? What have we read and discussed
seems to really apply to communities of which you are a member? What has really intrigued or
disturbed you personally about health and healing in other cultures? How have your
assumptions about modern Western medicine been challenged? Use your answers to these
questions to narrow down a focus on one specific question that you can explore in several of the
texts you have read this term.
For example, lets say you read Patti Neighmonds People with Low Incomes Say They Pay a
Price in Poor Health on National Public Radios Shots blog. In her brief, informational blog
article, Neighmond explains a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She reports that one third of
respondents who are low income say lack of money has a harmful effect on health. This gets
you thinking about the connection between income/money and health.
You first ask an initial question: What are the connections between income/money and health?
You find the answer in several sources you have already read in FYS, especially in Multicultural
Healths coverage of the statistics and explanations about health disparities related to income
among cultures, subcultures, and ethnicities in the United States.

At the same time, you ask: Why has this topic caught my attention? As you read through your
blog posts, your classmates blog posts, and the texts you have already read in FYS, it begins to
occur to you that you have some connection to the topic. You have a friend, sorority/fraternity
sister or brother, or teammate who is part of this community/group of people affected by health
disparities related to income. Or maybe your own family and/or neighborhood or town suffers
from health disparities or other problems related to income, culture, and/or subculture. As you
work through the FYS brainstorming assignments, you realize that arguments and information
offered by Wendell Berry, Orr, Ponting, and Prasadarao are leading you to think about the
injustice of the disparities you have witnessed, either directly or indirectlyand that are so
personally important to you.
As you write your way through this process, you begin to discover a) a specific community or
group on which your argument will center, b) a focused inquiry/question, and c) the kind of
argument you want to make:

Do you think someone or some issue surrounding your topic in a specific community should be
defined or seen in a new/different way? Could some of the people involved in the community or
issue the issue, itself, be defined a way that might help clarify the issue or even lead to solutions?

What are the causes of the issue are considering writing about? What are the consequences?
Why/how are those consequences important to people/readers who are and not part of that
community or have never experienced that particular community?

What is valuable about the issue related the community you are considering writing about? How
is this value important to understanding that community and challenges it faces?

Are there any solutions to the issue/problem? How can you explain and support the solution with
text you have read in FYS?

After talking with your classmates and with me during class activities and in conferences, you
then will settle into a working thesis that states the overarching claim you want to make in your
argument. From here, you begin outlining, drafting, and revising your essay. Make sure that you
provide enough concrete evidence and logical reasoning to support this position within 5-7
pages. Avoid a topic that is too broad or too limited for the length requirements.
Here are a few models for titles, focused questions, and core FYS texts:
Title: Self-Transformation: A Chinese Students New Definition of Health at Transy
Central Questions: What does it mean to transform as Chinese student at Transy? Should I
transform? Transform into what? What are the expectationsassimilation, acculturation,
acceptance, inclusion? What should I expect of myself? How does this process affect my

health? How could Transy define healthespecially mental and social healthin more
inclusive, global/international terms?
Core Texts: Mukherjees Two Ways; Multicultural Health; Prasadaraos Understanding
International Perspectives; MLKs Letter from Birmingham Jail; Purnell and Pontious Cultural
Competence
Title: Beyond Just Going Home: A Medical Ethic in the Mountains
Central Questions: If I become a doctor, how should I adapt my practice to people in my
hometownspecifically in a small town in Appalachian region of Kentucky? What affects health
there? What are the related injustices? What could I do as a doctor and citizen? What do I not
know about my own people? How could I practice cultural competence and cultural relativism
while still respecting the traditions and expectations of those who live there?
Core Texts: The Health of the Public and other excerpts from Miles; Berrys Why I Am Not
Going to Buy a Computer; Pontings A Green History of the World; MLKs Letter from
Birmingham Jail; Purnell and Pontious Cultural Competence; Multicultural Health; Van der
Ryn Notes on the History of Easing Thyself]
Title: My God(s): One Southern Baptists Critical Look at Healing through Multiple Faiths
Central Questions: What do I believe about healing? What have I been taught? How does what
I have been taught in religious settings differ from what Ive learned in media and in FYS? How
are Protestant/Baptist faith and biomedical practice/germ theory compatible? Or are they? When
does science stop helping, and when does faith step in? When has faith seemed an ineffective
way toward healing? Why? What did I learn at that moment about my faith and science? What
do other faiths say about healing beyond or in tandem with science? What rituals or practices
could Ias distinctly a womanlearn and possibly even blend into my personal ways of healing
in my struggle with anxiety and depression?
Core Texts: Multicultural Health (especially Religion, Rituals, and Health); Prasadaraos
Understanding International Perspectives; Purnell and Pontious Cultural Competence; Van
Dras Religion and Health (suggested by Mr. Wright)
Note: Whatever you choose to argue, consider this essay as extending a conversation raised by
earlier readings. This essay will take its place within a wider discussion and will state your own
position in relationship to those raised by other writers and thinkers (see They Say/I Say).

WRITING PROCESS: Maimon, et al, the editors of A Writers Resource, identify nine stages in
the process of developing an argumentative paper. Eight of these apply to the current
assignment:

figuring out what is at issue;


developing a reasonable stance that negotiates differences;
composing a thesis that states your position;
identifying key points to support and develop that thesis;
creating an outline that includes a linked set of reasons;
emphasizing a commitment to dialogue in the introduction;
concluding by restating the papers position and emphasizing its importance;
and reexamining the papers reasoning (127-132).

SOURCE MATERIAL: Your essay must use four (4) sources. Three (3) of your sources
should be texts assigned in this course. All other sources must be evaluated for credibility (in
consultation with me).
OTHER REQUIREMENTS AND DEADLINES: All sources must be cited correctly, according to
MLA documentation format, both within the text and at the end in a Works Cited list.
(Chapters 26-30 of A Writers Resource discuss citation format.) Be sure to review Transylvania
Universitys Academic Integrity Statement and the Harvard Guide to Using Sources to
understand responsible use of sources and the nature of plagiarism.
Working Thesis Conference with Instructor:
Complete Draft Due (for SWG):
Optional Instructor Conferences:
Length: 5-7 pages

Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24


Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31
At any time by appointment