Ggr124 Assignment Satisfaction

Unformatted text preview: Department of Geography University of Toronto GGR357, 2015 Housing and Community Development Paper #2 Assignment A ‘Briefing Paper’ for a Housing Minister Due March 30 at the start of class at 3:10. • • • • • • 2,200 word maximum. Submit printed single-­‐sided. Include list of key resources/references used (use standard academic citations, e.g., APA or Chicago). These words do not count as part of the 2,500. 1 ½ inch (3.8cm) margins; 12 pt. text, double-­‐spaced. Print single sided (these will be scanned). No cover page. Put your name in the header of each page. 35% of final grade. See format template below. This format and specific subheadings must be used. Assignment Goal The goal is of this assignment is for you to demonstrate understanding of course themes (listed under Learning Objectives in the syllabus) by researching a specific problem or issue relating to the topics covered in the course, analyzing it, and using a common template – the briefing paper – to communicate your research and analysis. Assignment Task, Role and Audience Assume you have a policy research placement with the Ontario Minister of Housing. You have been asked to provide the Minister with a briefing note to inform her team of advisors about a key contemporary housing question. You must interpret the key ideas in terms that will be clear and legible to a lay person (without being patronizing or obscure). Select a topic or question relevant to the ideas and debates discussed in the seminar. How to Choose Your Topic This assignment is easier if you focus on a particular specific problem or issue, rather than tackling how to end homelessness or provide everyone with quality housing they can afford. Look at our list of sessions in this course. Each lends itself to further specific investigation. One or more of the readings – its references -­‐-­‐ can guide you further into the topic. Under discrimination and homelessness, for example, there are groups (single mothers, immigrants, Aboriginal people, etc.) or programs (Housing First) that could be the focus. Some other country or countries may be doing something right in your view – something Ontario should consider doing. Read more about such a policy or program and propose it. The UN was very specific with its criticisms of Canada’s compliance with ESCR (reading Session 7.2). Any of these criticisms relevant to the topics covered in the course may provide you with a topic to focus on. Format A briefing paper is a report that addresses issues and how to solve them. Briefing papers (sometimes called white papers) are used to educate readers and help people make decisions. They are often used in politics, business and technical fields. The paper format is not as strict as a briefing note, but it covers the same categories of information although in greater detail. Briefing papers are written in formal business prose; Housing & Community Development, 2015 Paper #2 Assignment Page 2 of 3 bulleted lists are permitted but should not be overdone. Where relevant, graphs, tables and maps can be used to enhance understanding of the text. Sub-­‐headings are always used: this streamlines the writing and helps the reader find information. Even though the writing style may be less “academic” in tone, in-­‐text citations are still used. Your paper must have the following memo format and five numbered subheadings and then the references. TO: FROM: RE: DATE: BRIEFING PAPER Minister of Housing Author (Your name and title, Policy Research) Subject (your issue, topic) Date 1. Issue (or Topic, Purpose) A concise statement of the issue, proposal or problem. This section should explain in a couple of short sentences why the issue matters. It sets out in the form of a question or a statement what the rest of the note is about. 2. Background and Current Status The details the reader needs in order to understand what follows (how a situation arose, previous decisions/problems, actions leading up to the current situation). Typically this section gives a brief summary of the history of the topic and other background information. What led up to this problem or issue? How has it evolved? 3. Key Considerations A summary of important facts, considerations, developments—everything that needs to be considered now. While you will have to decide what to include and what to leave out, this section should be as unbiased as possible. Your aim is to present all the details required for the reader to be informed or to make an informed decision. Keep the reader's needs uppermost in your mind when selecting and presenting the facts. Remember to substantiate any statements with evidence and to double check your facts. Additional details may be attached as appendices. 4. Options (or Next Steps) Basically, observations about the key considerations and what they mean; a concise description either of the options and sometimes their pros and cons or of what will happen next. 5. Conclusion and/or Recommendations Conclusions summarize what you want your reader to infer from the BN. Many readers jump immediately to this section, so be sure it covers the points you most want your reader to be clear about. Do not introduce anything new in the Conclusion. If you are including a recommendations section, it should offer the best and most sound advice you can offer. Make sure the recommendation is clear, direct and substantiated by the facts you have put forward. References: minimum of 4 to 6 key resources – books, articles, reports. Include only those that you mention in the text. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Housing & Community Development, 2015 Paper #2 Assignment Page 3 of 3 The following is for reference and may be helpful. However, the purpose and format are as described above. How to Write a Briefing Note [or Briefing Paper] By Susan Doyle, University of Victoria. What is a briefing? Briefings, whether in the form of briefing notes, longer briefing papers, or oral briefings, are used to keep decision makers informed about the issues they are responsible for. In government, briefings are the principal means of communication between government managers and their ministers (or other senior officials). The demands of government these days are such that senior officials must constantly learn and retain information about an enormous range of topics and issues, which change rapidly. The only way they can do this is to rely on concise, clear, reliable briefings. What is a briefing note and when is it used? Written briefings are usually done in the form of briefing notes. A briefing note is a short paper that quickly and effectively informs a decision-­‐maker about an issue. A useful briefing note distils often-­‐complex information into a short, well-­‐structured document. Briefing notes usually deal with "issues"—subjects of debate. Briefing notes are also prepared for any topic someone needs to be informed about. It might be a policy matter, a situation, a report, action by another government—in fact, anything that government deals with. Briefing notes are typically written for those senior-­‐ level decision-­‐makers who have to keep track of many, often unrelated, issues may not be familiar with the issues and may not have any related background for whatever reason, cannot spend time doing their own research need a capsule version of the key points and considerations about an issue What are the characteristics of a good BN? A well-­‐prepared briefing note quickly and efficiently fills a person in on an issue. The most valuable BN is clear, concise and easy to read. To succeed, a briefing note should be: • short: always as short as possible • concise: a short document isn't necessarily concise; concise means every word is used as efficiently as possible • clear: keep it simple and to the point; always keep your reader firmly in mind and include only what matters to that reader • reliable: the information in a briefing note must be accurate, sound and dependable; any missing information or questions about the information should be pointed out • readable: use plain language and design your BN for maximum readability (use white space, subheadings, lists, font, and other means of making reading easier). How is a BN structured? Briefing notes often follow a standard format, but THERE ARE MANY VARIATIONS on that format. The most important point to remember about the structure of briefing notes is that they have three main parts: the purpose (usually stated as the issue, topic or purpose); a summary of the facts (what this section contains and the headings used will be determined by the purpose of the briefing note); the conclusion (this may be a conclusion, a recommendation or other advice, or both). ...
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