Writing Project 3

Assignment 3: Group Website Project

For our final project, we will be focusing on something of great interest to all of US: the Obama administration’s efforts to reform policing and the broader criminal justice system. We already have some building blocks in place to approach these efforts at reform: First, we’ve studied a few different ways that scholars have looked at the endemic problems with policing, including the relationship of the police to society and the nature of the police role. Second, we’ve looked at earlier reform efforts, including Task Force Report: The Police, written by Lyndon Johnson’s Crime Commission. Finally, we’ve read Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s history of how and why the #BlackLivesMatter moment arose now, and her critique of the Obama administration’s interventions in the real of criminal justice policy.

The Project

As a whole, the class should develop a cohesive website that both informs about and analyzes some contemporary criminal justice issues and how the Obama administration has intervened in them. As you can see from the former President’s article in the Harvard Law Review, his administration proposed reforms in many different areas. As we can see from the proposals of Campaign Zero and the Movement for Black Lives, activists have proposed other reforms. You are welcome to take any approach to the Obama administration’s efforts and those of other radical and reform actors. These might include:

  • explaining and evaluating a particular policy;
  • setting the administration’s efforts within a longer history of policy reform in one area;
  • examining or exploring a particular set of events to see how and when social movement actors secured federal intervention;
  • comparing and contrasting various reform proposals and strategies;
  • examining the rhetoric surrounding an aspect of criminal justice reform, including the rhetoric used by opponents, reformers, and radicals;
  • and many other approaches

My idea is that the work be broken up into various sub-sections, which would be undertaken by particular groups (and then by individuals within those groups) although it would be nice for the overall website to have a cohesive set of themes or inquiries. I am amenable to other ways of organizing the work, but will leave it to you all to decide if you want to deviate from the groups that we created last week.

Please consider in your work on the project the various opportunities for using a website: How is writing on the web different than standard academic writing? How can you incorporate sources through hyperlinks, embedding pictures, audio, and video, and other multi-media elements to make the website more exciting?

The Components

If we stick with the structure that we created last week, I envision that project involving both group and individual components. (If you decide to be more collaborative, these components could be done together.) The group components will be two-fold. As a whole, the class should develop a cohesive website that both informs about and analyzes some contemporary criminal justice issues and how the Obama administration has intervened in them. The website should include an introduction that explains what it does and links the various parts together. In your smaller groups, the goal is to focus in on a more particular issue, and provide an introduction that links the individual work done by each of the parties.

The individual component will be a page, or series of pages, that explain and analyze the questions that you have raised. The explicit purpose of this assignment is not necessarily to be argumentative, but I have found in the past that the writing may be more engaging if you do take a perspective on it. As your final project, I would like each of you to write about 1500 words on your topic. It can be broken up onto various pages, as necessary.

Annotated Bibliography

As a first step in this assignment, you will create an annotated bibliography, which is “an analytic guide to academic resources on a research topic.” For each source you should have a citation (Chicago style) and a brief (2-4 sentence) “description and evaluation, or annotation.” As the attached handout from the TWP Writing Studio reminds us, “The annotation is intended to assess the relevance and quality of each resource.”

Your annotated bibliography should include at least six sources related to your individual portion of the website. These sources should be from a diverse array of source types with no more than two of any major type (i.e., article from the mainstream media) and including at least four different types of sources.

I want this to be submitted in two ways: First, you should upload your own annotated bibliography to the “Annotated Bibliography” folder within your section’s folder on Box. Second, I want you to add your sources to the “Mega Annotated Bibliography” boxnote within the “Obama & Police Reform” folder on Box. Please organize them topically, so that everyone can get an overview of the literature. Please turn the citation into a hyperlink to the source so that anyone can access it.

Subsection Overview

I would also like you to complete an overview of the subsection of your website, detailing what inquiry will guide your subsection as a whole and what each of the parts will specifically focus on. You should draft this with your group, and it should be no more than 500 words. Please upload a boxnote to the “Subsection Overviews” folder on Box, with your group’s subsection overview.


On Monday, April 24, your group should present your section of the website to the rest of the class. Please take a maximum of 10 minutes per group, and we will have 5-10 minutes for questions afterwards. You are free to approach this presentation in any way you like, so long as you don’t simply read from the site or a script. As you prepare, think about the critical differences in presenting information for writing and presenting it orally.

What aspects of your research are essential to get across in a short oral presentation? How can you make your oral presentation engaging and enlivening for your audience of exhausted, stressed-out classmates approaching the end of their first year of college? Consider highlighting some of the non-text features from your pages, the broad concepts that informed your inquiries, and your major take-aways from your areas of research.


Apr. 3 (M): Create groups, brainstorm potential topics

Apr. 5 (W): Pass out assignment, work in groups focusing in on topic and creating research questions

Apr. 10 (M): Annotated bibliographies due; meet with class/subgroup

Apr. 12 (W): Subsection overviews due

Apr. 17 (M): Drafts of site due; group meetings

Apr. 24 (M): Presentation of site and discussion in class