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March 25, 2007

Initial reactions to white-paper outlines

I have reviewed all the submitted white-paper outlines, and I am in the midst of preparing class-wide substantive feedback and suggestions.  In this post, let me just detail some of my initial reactions and thoughts:

1.  Thanks for providing such interesting Spring Break reading.  I really enjoyed seeing how everyone approached this novel assignment, and I learned a lot from your outlines.  Though a lot of you (understandably) expressed concerns about the scope and coverage of your outlines, my review of all your efforts confirmed my instinct that this assignment is proving to be much more valuable than any exam or even a traditional research paper I could have assigned.

2.  The thoughtfulness and diversity of your efforts was quite impressive.  Even the shortest outline — which ran just over a page double-spaced — revealed thoughtful reflection on this project.  The longest outline — which ran just under seven pages single-spaced — revealed how dangerously easy it will be for this project to consume you.

3.  I will mark-up submitted outlines only upon request.  As noted above, I am preparing a long memo with general feedback for everyone.  I am happy to provide individual feedback through conferences or by marking up an outline upon request.  A number of you stressed that the outline was a work in progress; I would rather spend time helping you move forward than marking up an effort you have already revised.

4.  I am excited about the importance and possible impact of this project; I am thinking dynamically about how we can and should disseminate the class's efforts.  Of course, I hope to post (with permission) the completed white papers on this blog.  But I am also thinking about (1) whether and how we might foster (and fund) sending the white papers directly to the official intended audience, and also (2) whether and how we might publish all the papers in some kind of compiled book form.

UPDATE:  I have now completed a detailed memo with class-wide substantive feedback and suggestions, which can be downloaded here: Download recommendations_for_dp_white_papers.rtf

March 25, 2007 in Working on white papers | Permalink


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