Final Project Assignment

We will focus on learning effective research methods and on writing a well-researched, fully documented 15 page research paper. This particular section of FYRS investigates how a big cultural idea—“the simple life”—can be investigated in ways that reveal its complex sources, goals, meanings, and effects. We will investigate both the appeal of “the simple life” and ways in which that appeal may be ethically, politically, and socially understood. Your project will trace some manifestation of this cultural idea, and make a claim about its continuing importance, impact, or history.


Background: In college and beyond, you will be expected to know how to familiarize yourself with a range of viewpoints and evidence about a particular topic in order to determine your own thoughts about the topic—and possibly even to convince others to agree with you. Doing this well involves several steps: knowing where to find that range of views and determining which are credible, being able to synthesize information from various types of sources with one another and with your own ideas, and talking with others to develop your own unique perspectives on the topic, just to name a few. The argument-driven, research-supported essay you complete for FYRS will allow you to practice these steps in order to improve your skills of research, argument, synthesis, and source use.    


By the end of FYRS, you will have designed and completed a substantive research-driven essay, using sources to help support an argumentative claim for a generalist audience. Each assignment in the class is meant to help you move thoughtfully through a writing process toward the completion of this project. FYRS as a course is intended to help you understand (and have opportunities to practice) a variety of rhetorical moves that are applicable in a variety of majors, workplaces, and community settings.


Specifics: The focus and theme of each project will vary from section to section of FYRS (ours is on THE SIMPLE LIFE) and will be determined by each student’s interests. Research questions and topics will be shaped by conversations between students and instructors and with support from writing center staffers and librarians. Although FYRS is designed so that students can explore a vast range of topics and arguments, each FYRS final project should include/demonstrate the following


  1. A reasonable argumentative claim that connects, in some way, to the theme of the course section and that works within the scope of approximately 4500 words (~15 pages)
  2. An argument that showcases at least initial understanding of the larger issue(s) that contextualize this argument
  3. A range of well-chosen sources (connected by in-text citations; documented in a works cited page) that help explain the larger context and support your argument
  4. An understanding of how sources are used to shape thoughtful and nuanced conversation
  5. Consideration of how others with reasonable opposing viewpoints might consider your argument
  6. An engaging introduction that showcases how you wish to be perceived as a serious contributor to an already ongoing conversation
  7. An organizational schema for the project as a whole that is clear and well-considered in terms of audience needs
  8. Well-constructed body paragraphs that help move readers toward a better understanding of your argument/topic as a whole
  9. A conclusion that is meaningful, given the goals of your specific argument
  10. A sense of revision throughout the process—in other words, your instructor should be able to see how the initial assignments of the class led to this project, and how this project has developed over time