Political Science

Policy Brief Assignment
Due Friday, July 9 by midnight
• American decision makers at the Department of State and Defense often have to form broad policy agendas and strategies on pressing issues – many of which they may be relatively poorly informed about. They rely upon policy briefs – short essays or presentations by experts – to inform them on an issue and to make advisements on prudent course of action. Your task is to develop a policy brief on an ongoing crisis – as if you were helping to guide and develop American national security policy.
• First, select an ongoing crisis from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global
Conflict Tracker. Then, after researching the issue in depth, you have two goals
to meet for the policy brief. 1) To summarize the conflict, making sure to
identify the key actors, their motivations, and why this crisis is of importance to
American national security. 2) Using your knowledge of the crisis – make
recommendations about an appropriate course of action. Should the US
intervene? Should they use the military? Make an argument for how the US
should best ensure its national security interests can be met.
• You cannot select the War in Afghanistan or the Confrontation with Iran
(because we are already covering these extensively).
• The paper should be approximately 4-6 pages total depending on the complexity
of the crisis and your depth of analysis. If you choose to do this assignment as a
podcast/recording – you should expect to prepare yourself a script of similar
length. You do not need to submit a script to us, only the recording itself.
• 12-point font, double spaced, 1-inch margins. Any method of citation is
acceptable – but you must use citations for all information that is not your own, independent argumentation

• When making recommendations on prudent course of action, you do not need to
make an argument in favor of American hegemony or interventionism. If you
believe that the best action would be no action (or working with allies/the world)
– then make that argument! Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_science for more details.

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• That said, the goal of this assignment is to put yourself in the place of an
individual who has to make recommendations to the American government – so
your justification should involve American interests.
• A good way to begin approaching the second section is to consider the other
course material. How did previous policies reflect national interests? What
policies were successful… and why? Thinking about past cases can be a helpful
way to inform current decisions.
• You may need to use additional resources outside of the CFR page on your issue.
Make sure to use reputable sources – and include them in a Works Cited/
• This assignment is not an exam. We are fully willing to read drafts and give
advice as you go. Our goal is that you learn more about an issue of interest,
analyze in terms of national security, and communicate your new understanding.
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