When asked, “Why study history?” a common response is “To not make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past.” In this sense, the public sees historians as problem solvers—people who can look at past events and trends and then contribute something to discussions of
significant issues in contemporary society.
This assignment asks you to take on this problem-solving role. In this project, you will:
1. Identify a significant contemporary issue
2. Investigate historical perspectives on this issue
3. Evaluate historical sources on the topic
Identify a significant contemporary issue. Some examples might include: racial tension, income inequality, gender discrimination, immigration, political corruption, economic challenges, issues facing the military, etc. Choose something that interests you and that you really think is a serious issue facing the American people today.
Investigate the history of your chosen issue. For example, if you choose racial tensions, you’ll need to explore things such as slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the rise of white supremacy, and the Civil Rights movement.
Identify between 8-10 scholarly historical sources on your topic. (This means either books or journal articles—NO WEB SOURCES.) You may use these sources to write your paper, or you may use other sources for the paper itself.
What to Turn In:
A paper (between 1000-3000 words) that answers these questions:
“What is this significant contemporary issue, and why did I chose it?”
“What is the history of this issue?”
“What can the history of this issue teach us about how to approach it in our own time?”
Make sure to include appropriate in-text citations for your paper. (Don’t plagiarize!)
An annotated bibliography of those 8-10 scholarly historical sources that addresses your topic. Each entry should contain a full citation of the source, plus a 3-5 sentence description of its main argument.
Paper is worth 100 points; Bibliography is worth 50 points