Mapping the Conversations

Mapping the Conversation Essay Prompt

In a scholarly essay, introduce the background and context of a current public issue and demonstrate its importance, and then analyze at least five relevant stakeholders (individuals and groups invested in or affected by the issue), employing stasis theory to understand the arguments being offered on your issue in the public sphere.

(I chose mental health as my topic)

Further Explanation

In writing this essay, you will locate and analyze a variety of academic and popular sources in order to understand the scope of the conversation and various stakeholders’ perspectives surrounding your issue. This project is meant to help you challenge the tendency to oversimplify current social or political issues as two-sided (left vs. right, blue vs. red, right vs. wrong). Issues have multiple perspectives, and our goals with this project are to understand and explain the background and context for the issue and to understand and explain how various stakeholders perceive and argue about this issue.

Because you will be exploring the complexity of this issue, you should find, evaluate, and incorporate a variety of sources that are complex. Avoid sources that oversimplify or provide only surface-level overviews or arguments, and find sources that explore the issue with complexity and perspective.

Because this essay covers a lot of ground, it might be quite long (the minimum is 1500 words, but you’re welcome to go longer). You might consider using headings to help a reader navigate the essay. But in short, your essay should first set up the context and history of this issue or problem, and then discuss and analyze at least five stakeholders.

For your analysis of these stakeholders, you should find stakeholders who represent the full complexity of the issue. While many stakeholders are active advocates, others are may be silent stakeholders, unaware of how the issue impacts them or unable to argue on their own behalf. However, so that you can analyze the nature of the public debate, you should choose at least four active stakeholders (out of a total of at least five) to research. For each stakeholder, you should identify 1) who they are, 2) their relationship to the issue, and 3) where possible, what they are arguing and the values that connect their position.

This essay shouldn’t make an argument about which stakeholders are correct or which ideas and positions you personally agree with or like best. Instead, you should explore some of the following questions in your discussion of stakeholders: Why or how do the different stakeholders disagree or agree with one another? Who is or isn’t speaking? What are their primary concerns or goals for their ideas or positions? What values are informing their perspective? Exploring why each stakeholder acts on or reacts to the issue as they do, you will apply stasis theory to better understand the nature of disagreement among the groups who are weight in on your issue.

Minimum Expectations & Guidelines

In order to earn a C, your project should conform to these guidelines:

  • Be double-spaced in a readable 11-12 pt. font with 1-inch margins
  • Have an effective title that helps a reader understand the purpose and subject of your essay
  • Provide a rich discussion of the context and history of the problem or issue
  • Identify at least five relevant stakeholders and analyze their positions, four of which have to be active advocates
  • Apply stasis theory to the debate surrounding the issue
  • Be effectively organized around a thesis or controlling idea statement
  • Avoid premature argument or judgment of different positions
  • Incorporate and synthesize relevant and quality (primary and/or secondary) research, including at least 10 sources
  • Cite all sources in MLA or APA style and include a works cited or references page
  • Be at least 1500 words in length
  • Use clear language and be carefully edited

In order to earn an A or B, your essay should conform to the following degrees of excellence:

  • Your essay includes all the minimum requirements listed above. It thoroughly discusses the history and context of the issue, offering a rich description with complexity for that history and context.
  • Your discussion of each stakeholder shows complexity and understanding of their perspectives, moving beyond mere description to analysis of why and how these stakeholders hold these positions.
  • Your primary and secondary sources move beyond a simplistic approach to the problem or issue, and they are effectively and sophisticatedly incorporated into the essay.
  • Your essay is organized in a fashion that is appropriate for your argument and logically and carefully arranged. This includes appropriate headings, topic sentences, and transitions.
  • Paragraphs cohere, are clearly ordered, and transition smoothly. Paragraphs contain appropriate topic sentences, which are supported with clear, concrete evidence and sound reasoning.
  • Sentences are interesting, varied in form, and fairly free of surface errors. Word choice and sentences show evidence of intentional choices by you as a writer.


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