GWA 201: Policy Memo Resources
Paper Writing Tips
The assignment is to write a 10-12 page policy memo or position paper on a
foreign policy issue of your choice. Your job is to persuade a policymaker to
adopt a particular course of action regarding an international problem. The
following web site has helpful links that show the elements and style of
persuasive memos and position papers:
I expect that the papers will be clearly written and well-organized essays with an
identifiable thesis statement. If you are not sure what is a thesis statement or
how to write one, I recommend the following Web site
( http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Thesis.html ).
You can cite the sources for your paper in any major style such as APA, MLA,
APSA, etc. If you have any questions about how to cite sources in your work, I
recommend the following Web site for suggestions
( http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/DocAPSA.html ).
Interest Groups & Think Tanks
The following are major interest groups and think tanks active on foreign policy
issues. The list is by no means exhaustive, so please feel free to seek out
American Enterprise Institute, http://www.aei.org/
Brookings Institution, http://www.brookings.edu/World.aspx
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
Center for Strategic and International Studies, http://csis.org/
Center for International Governance, http://www.cigionline.org/
Council on Foreign Relations, http://www.cfr.org/
Foreign Policy Research Institute, http://www.fpri.org/
Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/Issues
International Crisis Group, http://www.crisisgroup.org/
New America Foundation, http://newamerica.net/
RAND Corporation, http://www.rand.org/
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, http://www.sipri.org/
GWA 201: Policy Memo
The foreign policy memo assignment is designed for you to explore different
political options for handling an international issue of your choice. The memo
should be 10-12 pages, double-spaced. The memo should be written in 12-point,
Times New Roman or other standard font, with one-inch margins. Any charts,
graphs, or tables of data should be put in an appendix, and will not count toward
the overall page count of the memo. You should cite your sources appropriately
throughout the text and list them in your bibliography in any major reference style
such as MLA, APA, Chicago style, etc.
The memo should be structured as follows.
Step 1: First, the memo should outline the policy problem. What is the problem?
What is the status quo? What type of decision faces policymakers? Because
policymakers are extremely busy and intensely interested in your “bottom line”
recommendation, you should provide a brief justification of your viewpoint right
away in the first section of the memo.
Step 2: Provide background information about the problem, including a brief
history of the issue. Include any relevant statistics or data to give an accurate
sense of the scope of the problem or issue. Why is this problem or issue
important today? Does it have major implications for the national interests of a
particular country or for human well-being?
Step 3: Identify the relevant stakeholders that will be impacted by the policy.
Here are some questions you might want to think about: Which countries have
interests at stake in this debate? How would this policy impact the interests of
different countries? Would rich and poor countries be impacted differently?
Would different regions of the world be impacted in various ways? How would
different organized interests or groups of people be impacted?
Step 4: Outline alternative policy proposals or solutions for dealing with the
problem. What are competing political parties, interest groups, think tanks, and
scholars of international relations recommending about your topic? Present the
logic of the competing arguments as thoroughly for all sides as possible. Be sure
to note the advantages and disadvantages of each approach for different
countries. The nuance you can provide about the implications of different policy
options will convey your expertise in policy analysis.
Step 5: Offer your policy recommendation. Clearly state your preferred policy
option and explain your criteria for judgment, which might include but are not
limited to the following: security, national wealth, cost, equity, fairness,
effectiveness, feasibility, and human well-being. Be sure to acknowledge the
inevitable trade-offs in interests or values of the option you choose.
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