Final Project Overview – Policy White Paper


You must choose ONE NATIONAL social inequality issue to focus on. This will be your ‘agenda.’ You will then write a white paper that establishes the problem, why it needs to be addressed, and what policies you will enact to help ameliorate the issue. For instance, if you choose homelessness, you will need to recount research establishing homelessness as a major, national-level problem of concern, evidence to suggest why it needs attention in the form of policy, and what those policies will do to reduce homelessness.

Periodic discussions will be posted along the way, which will help you formulate your ideas and refine them.

The following requirements may seem extensive, but try not to worry: they, along with the white paper guidelines, will provide a lot of focus as you move forward. It can be easy to get off track!


  1. You must follow the formatting/organization and guidelines in the SLS document (click here) (Links to an external site.), with the simplications noted below. 
    1. For the “Generate criteria for evaluating data,” I don’t expect you to be methodology experts. Just tell me HOW your sources got the information they did. Also, work into your paper somewhere how YOU would know if your solutions are working or not. (What ‘tests’ would you use to tell if, for instance, homelessness went down?)
    2. “Recommendations” in this document = policy solutions. This will be the core of your conclusionary section. This section can be briefer than many of the papers to which you may be accostomed. There are no "hard rules" here, but in white papers, these are often only a paragraph or two, followed by a bulleted list of policy solutions or recommendations. These bullet points will have brief explanations of what the policy actually is and hopes to accomplish (a few sentences for each policy recommendation). If you have done well, the hard work has already been done in the previous sections and the conclusionary section just provides a succinct recounting of what you recommend doing about the problem. By now, you hope your readers are already “onboard."
    3. Don’t worry about the term “theories of change.” Focus on the questions listed there instead: “What are the pros and cons? What are predicted outcomes?…”
  2. This paper must be between 3000-3750 words (12-15 pages double spaced). This will challenge you to include all of the required elements, while also elaborating where needed to support your arguments. White papers are designed to be shorter than larger reports, but just as convincing. Choose carefully where to expand.
  3. You must use at least 15 sources and cite them appropriately in-text and in a references page.
  4. You must include at least one “best practice” as part of your paper. “Best practices” are practices utilized by the most successful programs dealing with the issue you are focusing on. Your group must research this on your own. This will also help you fulfill the citation requirement in #3. (Consider these solutions. What would you keep the same and what would you change if it was your choice?)
  5. You must address at least one counterargument.
  6. You will turn in individual papers on which you will be graded.
  7. Charts and graphics are acceptable (if applicable), but must not exceed one page total.

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