Paper 1 on an Urban Problem
Course Learning Outcomes:
Problem – Being able to ask important questions and to answer them with credible
evidence is central to critical thinking; as well as to nearly any career or discipline. You
will work this semester on recognizing the causes and consequences (Micro-level and
macro-level) of numerous urban problems assigned to you. You will also be able to
explain how these urban problems affect different groups of people in different ways. By
understanding the causes and consequences of various urban problems, and how various
groups are impacted differently, you will work on creating potential solutions to these
problems. We will use examples of urban planning to understand the differences between
micro-level and macro-level solutions.
Evidence – Building on discussion assignments, class discussions, assigned readings,
videos, etc., you will use at least 4 credible sources as evidence to write “Paper 1: On an
Urban Problem.” We will work with staff in Atkins library to learn how to locate such
sources and how to determine whether or not they are credible. This is often a tricky task,
but an absolutely essential one to learn. Answers are only as good as the source from
which they are derived. At least 2 of these 4 sources will need to be scholarly articles or
books, whereas the remaining 2 sources may take any of numerous forms (e.g.,
documentaries, web-sites, archives, scholarly books/journals). We will also work in class
on how to read and sort through challenging sources to pull out the key facts and
arguments, even when the source may contain jargon and other information that is a bit
Conclusions – For your “Paper 1: On an Urban Problem” you will draw conclusions
from your collected evidence regarding (1) the causes and consequences of one specific
example of an urban problem and (2) how different groups of people are affected
differently by these urban problems – (see below for details.)
Heads-up: For “Paper 2: Solutions to Urban Problems,” you will research and
communicate about potential micro- and macro-level solutions to these problems.
Disciplinary Conventions – For this class we will learn correct usage of MLA 8 citation and
bibliography, how to write effectively organized pieces of writing based on multiple stages of
revision, and how to deliver an oral presentation that utilizes in-class instruction on speech
organization, effective transitions, introductions and conclusions, verbal and nonverbal delivery,
and other accepted presentation conventions.
For ALL written assignments: You will type ALL papers with page numbers and last name on
the top-right of each page, using a maximum of 1-inch margins, using either Times New Roman
or Cambria, in 12pt size. You can then upload this Word file to Canvas.
Paper 1 Assignment on Urban Problems 2
Your Audience: For all stages of Paper 1 and Paper 2 you will write and present to an audience
of well-educated people who may not know about your specific urban problem and solutions.
Think of people who might, for example, make up a City Council or a board on a non-profit.
Steps Working Up to the Final, Revised Version of “Paper 1: On an Urban Problem:”
You will learn throughout this course, with help from the Writing Center, and from me, that
critical thinking and communication CANNOT occur in a single sitting. Instead, it requires
several stages of work with a lot of revision. For “Paper 1: On an Urban Problem” you will do
the following (See syllabus for due dates and other specific information):
1) Think about and decide on an urban problem that interests you:
Think about what urban problem you might like to address. It can be one that we have
already gone over or one we will go over later in the semester. You can/should build on
our readings, films, and other resources form class. If it is a topic that we have not yet
covered, you will want to go ahead and read any of the assigned readings for that topic
and cover any of the other assigned resources (such as videos).
The urban problem you chose may be an example of an urban problem that we
specifically went over/will go over in class that you want to explore further (e.g., women
workers in maquilas, sex-trafficking in Thailand, etc.), or it may be a problem that falls
under a general category of urban problem we have/will discuss (urban crime,
ethnic/racial diversity, globalization, etc.), but is not a specific example covered in our
class. There is a lot of flexibility here. The key thing is that this is an urban problem and
it interests you and that we have/will have covered it in at least a general way in class.
Defining a topic/question, finding credible sources for evidence to answer this question,
and writing what you discover is not a linear process. Instead, you will start with a topic,
review readings, refine the topic, read more, refine more, write, revise, write…… (You
get the point).
2) Proposal of Topic for Paper 1: Urban Problems with sources = 5%
You will submit this proposal to me through Canvas and you will also present this to a
group of four of your peers in class to get revision ideas.
After reviewing library sources and other resources from class and elsewhere, start by
naming an urban problem that interests you. It may start a bit broadly (e.g.,
homelessness) and later become more focused (e.g., homeless youth in Charlotte). Or it
may start out focused, but change focus a bit as you read more on your topic. That is OK!
It just means you are learning more and so getting more ideas. However, it eventually
needs to be focused enough so that you can (later on) work on focused solutions.
Paper 1 Assignment on Urban Problems 3
You will then need to find at least four, credible sources to include in this proposal.
You may add to or change some of these, but you should generally have the bibliography
for this paper by the time of the proposal. Sometimes, as you are reading through the
literature, you will get an idea that changes your proposed topic a little. For example, you
may think you want to study homeless youth but then find a great reading on homeless
elderly etc. That is why I want you to have, more or less, pinned down your sources at the
topic proposal stage.
You will then write a ½ – to 1 – page typed proposal on the urban problem you’ve chosen
(including sources). In this proposal, clearly state and explain the urban problem you’ve
chosen and list the sources you’ve chosen using the MLA 8 citation style. Submit the
proposal to me on Canvas.
3) You will next submit a “publish Paper 1 on an Urban Problem” = 10%
After considering the comments given to you by your peers and by me on your proposal,
you may wind up changing your topic a little (or maybe even a lot) and/or changing
around some of your sources.
Once you’ve revised your proposed topic and finalized your bibliography, you will write
a “Complete publish of Paper 1: On an Urban Problem” (Assignment details/questions
below). This will be uploaded to Canvas for me and you will bring four hard-copies to
class for peer-review.
Do NOT think of “publish” as sloppy or unfinished. Instead it is to be as polished as if you
were turning it in as a final copy. I will grade this and your effort in it. Make sure to
spell-check (with a human spell-checker), make sure all sources are cited properly using
the MLA 8 style of citation, etc.
4) Revised Paper 1: On an Urban Problems = 15%
After considering comments given to you by your peers and by me, you will revise your
publish and submit a final “Revised Version of Paper 1: On an Urban Problem” to Canvas.
Revisions should occur in multiple sittings. Get help from the writing center or peers in
Paper 1 Assignment on Urban Problems 4
The Assignment for “Paper 1: On an Urban Problem:” (Finally……)
So, what are the specific details of the assignment for your first paper?
In class we will discuss numerous examples (case studies) of how urbanism can lead to a wide
range of urban problems. We will look at both micro-level and a macro-level causes and
consequences of these problems.
For this assignment you will analyze an example (case-study) of one of these urban problems. As
explained above, you may build on a specific case study/example that we have already examined
(e.g., maquila workers, femicide, globalization, sex-trade, etc. etc.) or you may find your own
example of one of these general categories of urban problems. The example may be fairly large
scale (e.g., homelessness in the 18th century US; the caste system in India) or it may be more
narrow (e.g., street kids in Seattle; how the caste system affected poorer women in a New Delhi
etc. etc. etc.). That part is really up to you and what you find interesting.
Once you’ve decided on a particular example of this particular problem, you will need to do the
1) Review any/all of our class materials (lectures, films, readings, discussion
assignments) pertaining to this topic. You should be able to pull in information learned in
class to your example (make connections). (Should be done before your publish 1)
2) Then have at least four credible sources (finalize the bibliography you had in your
proposal and publish) pertaining to the case study/example that you choose (remember staff
at the library can help with this). At least two of these sources must be scholarly, peer-
reviewed readings (scholarly journal articles or books). The other two sources may be
scholarly readings or they may take another form of evidence that we have discussed –
credible website, documentaries, archives, etc. These four resources will provide the
information you need in order to discuss your specific case study/example of an urban
3) After reading and analyzing your sources, in 3 to 4 typed pages (not including the
bibliography or any images you may want to include) you will answer the following:
a. First, summarize your case study/example. Give your reader a context to the
problem. This is the “who-what-when-where-” etc. of the problem you are discussing.
You might give statistics to help flesh out your summary of this urban problem.
Make sure to address who is suffering from this problem? Why are those who are
suffering, suffering? Who might be benefiting and why? Do you have any statistics to
support this information?
Even if it is an example/case study we went over in class, write this information for a
reader who has never heard of this example before (someone not in our class). (Don’t
forget to use in-text citations – it is MUCH easier to put this in while the source is fresh
in your mind than to wait until the final revisions and try to look the information up.)
Paper 1 Assignment on Urban Problems 5
b. Next, based on the evidence you’ve collected, what are the main causes of this
problem? What are micro-level causes? What are macro-level causes?
What are some of the things that have led to (caused) this problem? Make sure to include
some of the causes at a micro-level (this can be local/community level or other smaller-
scale causes) and at a macro-level (state/national/federal/global level or other larger-scale
(Helpful hint: As you are working through your sources/evidence, be thinking about
solutions to this problem. That is what you will write about in your second paper. So, if
you happen to come across good evidence/sources for such solutions, go ahead and grab
them. I do not ask you to start writing about solutions yet, but DO want you to start
THINKING about them. This is really challenging and requires a lot of thought. This is
why I give you the bulk of the semester to work on and think on these.
c. Include a bibliography (MLA 8 Style) as well as in-text citations (MLA 8 style).
We will go over this in class, but you can always get help with this at the writing center
as well. Knowing exactly how often to cite within text and when not to cite is a difficult
skill that takes a lot of repetition and learning. Do not feel silly if this doesn’t come
d. REVISE and write in multiple sittings – Even though this is a relatively short paper,
that doesn’t make it an assignment you can do in one sitting. If anything, that requires
that you are much more precise in your wording and can cover a lot of material in a very
concise way. Remember to use spell-check and a HUMAN reader that can catch things
spell-check cannot, write in multiple sittings (NOT THE NIGHT BEFORE!) so you can
self-revise, use proper MLA Style citations, etc. Use the UNCC Writing Center, if you
WARNING: Students often tell me how they do their best writing and are most
motivated when “under the gun” of a deadline. I can promise you that NO ONE writes
best this way. You will just be too tired and burned out from writing in that one sitting
that you will miss obvious errors. (FYI it takes most of your professors the better part of a
YEAR to write, revise, write….an academic journal article). We will work on peer
reviews once you have submitted your paper, but go ahead and seek out peer-reviewers
before-hand as well. An extra-pair of eyes never hurts.
An “A” paper will: have a clear problem statement (outline the problem you are
addressing); will use proper grammar; will use a proper paragraph structure; will use
proper citation; will be based on a minimum of four reliable, credible sources (two at
least are scholarly readings); will include a summary of the context of the problem that
demonstrates your understanding of the key points of the sources you use; will be written
in a way to show depth and thought of the problem and its causes; and will be focused
(no fluff, no digressions; no long personal statements). It will address all of the assigned
questions. *See grading rubric in our Canvas Module Block 1
Paper 1 on an Urban Problem