Call/WhatsApp: +1 914 416 5343

An argument in Health Controversies

The final course project is an original analysis of the significant health-related controversy, conducted in a series of intermediate projects and compiled into a final written report. The point is not to advocate a position, but to thoroughly and insightfully document the emergence and progression of the controversy, ending with a description of the current state of the controversy. The final report will include a number of elements, and it should demonstrate your mastery of a wide range of analytic methods. Published examples (from fields other than health) will be included in the readings.

Each person may choose their own controversy, so long as:

  • The controversy is still ongoing, in the sense that people are still advancing new arguments.
  • The controversy includes elements of scientific fact, health policy, and individual choice—i.e., the controversy must be complex in the sense that its issues cut across different spheres of discourse.
  • There are at least two contrasting positions within the controversy, and preferably more than two (this being typical).

Small teams may form around research topics, pooling data that each person can then analyze and interpret individually. 

Possible topics (partial list, others welcome):

Right-to-Try GMO foods Planetary sustainability diet Abortion rights Assisted suicide   Vaccination (MMR, HPV) Sex education in schools Gun violence as a public health concern Sports injuries as a public health concern Use of animals in drug testing

Required elements:

  • A thorough overview of issues associated with the controversy, supported by argument diagrams and other visualizations.
  • Identification of multiple participant perspectives (such as perspectives of experts, policy-makers, health care providers, and patients).
  • A visual representation of complex relationships between/among participants, issues, and arguments.

Methods to be employed will be introduced one at a time, and applied soon thereafter. These include:

  • Systematic search for argumentative content in diverse literatures (scientific literature, policy debate, news and opinion journalism, social media).
  • Analysis of individual arguments, especially through use of diagramming tools.
  • Reconstruction of argument “flows,” especially through use of argument mapping.

Expected length: up to 20 pages, including diagrams, figures, and explanatory text; word length excluding figures is predicted (not required) to be about 3500-4000 words.

Leave a Reply