Expectations and Objectives for the Position Papers
There are a number of objectives that the position paper assignment is meant to achieve:
1) The primary goal is that all students will be able to clearly explain opposing perspectives on a
contentious issue related to the Latin America in the United States course material. In this
assignment, students are expected to clearly lay out a position or argument that they disagree
with, and then explain why they advocate an alternative position. Among the ways to do this
might be: take a position held by some Latinos vs. that held by some non-Latinos; use the
position held by some in the US government vs. that which might be argued for a Latin
American government; a position generally held by Republicans vs. that generally held by
Democrats, etc. Those are all just suggestions – what is important is that you have two opposing
perspectives, and you defend one of the two.
2) Students will be able to effectively use evidence and analysis in the process of clearly laying
out their support for a particular position, perspective, or argument in a limited number of pages.
3) Students will be able to discern what sorts of sources are most appropriate to provide evidence
of both the positions they challenge and advocate.
4) In addition to clearly and effectively defending a position in writing, students will also be able
to explain and defend that position advocacy in class.
Practical considerations related to the assignment
1) Your paper should be approximately four double-space pages in length and is due at the class
meeting on the day that your topic is scheduled to be discussed. Approximate means that I’m
sure a good paper could be written in three pages, and someone might decide five pages are
necessary, so there is no reason to manipulate font and spacing to make it look like four pages.
2) You need to be in class on the appropriate day in order to join in the discussion related to your
perspective on a particular issue. If something comes up that makes your absence on that day
unavoidable, you need to let me know before class.
3) In both explaining the position you oppose and your own, you need to use appropriate
additional sources beyond those assigned. Chapters in books, journal, magazine, and newspaper
articles, or even an interview of someone are all good sources. You should avoid encyclopedia-
like sources and internet material of questionable origin. I find Wikipedia useful for background
information and even a link to potentially good sources. But it is an “encyclopedia-like” source
and does not satisfy the additional sources expectation.
4) You may choose to use footnotes/endnotes or parenthetical in text cites, but proper citation is
required. I have no preference as to what reference style you choose to use. All references
should be fully listed in either a footnote or at the end of the paper, including for Internet sources
a full address for the link – that is, I should be able to easily look up any of the citations. If you
have any questions about the need cite a source, I would be glad to discuss it with you.