Rhetoric & Composition I Rotating Header Image

Op-Ed Essay Project

Criteria: an issue for which you are passionate, that you care deeply about, that affects you or affects people you know
: smart, educated, curious readers and critical thinkers
Length: 1000-1250 words

We’ll begin by thinking together about the aims and purposes of argument, advocacy, and persuasion, drawing on our SMH, pp. 160-162: to win; to convince; to understand; to change yourself.

Then you will choose an issue to write about — something that affects you, your family, or community. Brainstorming inquiry questions from class:

Next you’ll you’ll do some exploratory writing on that issue, for which you have two options.

Option #1: Problem-Based

In an exploratory essay of 500 words +/-

Connect & Analyze

  • What am I a part of? What matters to me?
  • What problems exist that I can treat as opportunities?
  • What do I see well, and what am I blind to? How does my own perspective impact what I see?
  • What are the “parts” of the world, and within those parts what deserves my creativity, affection, and sustained effort?


Imagine & Design

  • What is possible? What would be awesome?
  • What am I uniquely suited to do? How can technology amplify my potential?
  • Who can I work with to improve the response?
  • What absolutely has to happen for this to work?

Act & Socialize in an Op-Ed Essay

  • What is the most meaningful action I can take in response?
  • Who is my primary audience? How can I best reach them?
  • How can I best package my work so that others understand & are moved by it?
  • How will I know if what I’m doing is working?

Option #2: Exploratory

The first sentence of your first paragraph will begin, “I have come to believe that _______________________ …”

The first sentence of the next three paragraphs will begin with some variation on,

  • “I wonder sometimes, however …”
  • “And sometimes I wonder …”
  • “But sometimes I wonder …”

This process helps you — or forces you — to explore doubts about your issue, engages you in some necessary perplexity, and may even result in some truth-seeking behavior.