The actions of people in the past created the world in which we live. In this course we have focused on the connections between the past, the present, and the future. The final assignment for this course invites you to draw your own conclusions about the history of an event of your choice.
Review the sample columns from the Washington Post’s “Made by History” series provided on Brightspace. This is a column where historians connect current events to their past precedents. You are also welcome to read additional examples from their site: https://www.washingtonpost.com/made-by-history/
You can also see the description of the series here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/04/21/welcome-made-by-history/
Current Event Topic Selection
Choose a topic that has drawn significant attention in the United States at some point in the past five years (since 2016). Your topic should relate directly to the history of the United States, either through domestic or international events or policies. Possible topics include voting rights access and limitations, the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack, the collapse of the Surfside tower, the popularity of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, the fluctuating cost of gasoline, Jeff Bezos’ desire to visit space, online learning, or childcare access and full employment.
Past Events Selection
Identify relevant past events (from before 2016) that provide context for your chosen topic. Brainstorm some ideas on your own and do some online searches to get ideas. Professor Howard and the WIT Library staff will help you identify past events. We will have one class session dedicated to workshopping topic ideas.
You will need to use five (5) appropriate sources for this essay. Professor Howard and the WIT Library staff can help you locate appropriate sources.
For this assignment, appropriate sources are those found through the WIT Library (https://library.wit.edu/home) and the New York Times. WIT Library includes access to scholarly books and articles as well as the Boston Globe historical database. There are two databases for the Boston Globe—one covers 1872-1989 and the other covers 1997 to the present. The New York Times historical content is available through the Boston Public Library. You can apply for a BPL library card on their website and can use that to access the New York Times historical database.
You will complete the Research Plan form and submit it on Brightspace. This form will include:
- Planned title for your column
- Description of the current event and the past precedents (fifty (50) words or less)
- List of the 5 appropriate sources you will be using (including author, title, publisher, and date of publication)
You will write a column of 1200-1250 words in the style of the Washington Post Made by History columns. Your column should draw on specific facts, dates, and details to explain to the average reader how the past has shaped your chosen topic. You need not use internal citations or footnotes but will submit a final bibliography with the column. That bibliography can include the sources you initially submitted as well as any other appropriate sources you have used.
Each student will present their findings to the class over Zoom. We will dedicate two class sessions to these presentations. Each student will have 5 minutes to present their findings and 5 minutes to field questions from the class.
The rubric for the assignment will allocate points as follows (total 100 points):
- Research Plan: 10
- Presentation: 15
- Thesis (concise statement tying together the past and present events): 15
- Argument (clear to the average reader how these events relate because of your careful explanation of relevant information): 30
- Sources (5 appropriate sources used, no inappropriate sources, final bibliography submitted): 10
- Length (1200-1250 words): 10
- Spelling and Grammar: 10