Class Participation and Engagement

We will run this course as a seminar, therefore your fullest and most active intellectual engagement with class discussion each week is expected and rewarded. We will provide a self-­assessment at the end of the term to invite your own reflection on the quality and level of your engagement, as well as our own self-evaluation and an evaluation of our efforts as co-instructors.

Annotated Bibliography

Select a topic, within the frameworks identified, but Not addressed in this course, and produce an annotated bibliography of between 5 and 10 scholarly sources that best represent the current themes, tensions, and debates relevant to the topic. This bibliography will serve as the basis of your major paper in this course, so it behooves you to do a thorough job of researching and digesting the available literature. **Note. Your topic choice is important because you will work on this same topic in three different, but interrelated assignments—your Op-Ed, your Annotated Bibliography and your Research Paper (details of each of these follow).

You should feel free to choose a timely topic that interests you. A list of suggestions, however, includes:

  • Globalization and the outsourcing of surrogacy
  • Fertility clinics and the international egg donation industry
  • Reproductive genetic technology
  • Plastic surgery
  • Gender alignment surgery
  • Health care for incarcerated women


Op-Ed is short for "Opposite the Editorial." It is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a writer, and typically, it is published on the page Opposite a newspaper's Editorial Page. Op-Eds, as short opinion pieces, more developed than Letters to the Editor, are much harder to get published. They are important because they make an argument about something timely and newsworthy and they actually get read alongside the editorials written by established journalists. Op-Eds are the tool of everyday people who have something meaningful and well reasoned to say. Major daily newspapers, professional journals, and even TV News shows offer examples.

Your Op-Ed will address the topic you've selected for your Research Paper (and Annotated Bibliography). You've surveyed the state of scholarship and captured the key tensions, now take a position and write a 750–1000 word piece for a general audience.

We encourage you to submit your Op-Ed for publication.

Assignment Resources are drawn from The Op-Ed Project. Please review the following documents located there before you begin your Op-Ed.

  • Submission info, Top Outlets
  • Questions for Op-Ed Writers
  • Tips for Op-Ed Writing
  • Basic Op-Ed Structure
  • Ledes and New Hooks
  • How to Pitch
  • FAQs

Research Paper and Presentation

Based on the material you gathered in your Annotated Bibliography on a topic of your choosing (see above list of topics), or any major world daily paper, TV News show, or online journal for inspiration), craft a paper that articulates the key themes, tensions, contradictions and / or debates central to the topic of your choice. This paper should do more than synthesize the extant literature. That is, in addition to providing a helpful "state of the research" overview, we challenge you to express your own critical voice by utilizing the analytical frameworks used throughout this course (critiques of capitalism and mechanisms of exclusion; health and human rights; gender issues or questions) to produce an incisive analysis of the subject matter. You might think of this paper as the scholarly version of your Op-Ed—written now for an academic audience and appropriately referenced. Essay length will vary student-to-student and topic-to-topic, but plan on between 12–15 double spaced pages.

In-Class Student Discussion Preparation and Facilitation

Using the analytical framework presented in the first few weeks of class (critiques of capitalism and mechanisms of exclusion; health and human rights; gender issues or questions) present a verbal synthesis of the readings assigned for that day. Facilitate the in-class discussion of the material based on a set 3–5 probing discussion questions you prepare and share with the group one day ahead (please make copies of the questions for distribution to all of us).