An exploratory essay lays out and explains three (or more) of the major positions on a controversial issue – they explore an issue further than “pro” or “con” and can provide mutual understanding and common ground. This type of essay not only summarizes each view, though; it also includes an analysis of the overall rhetorical situation: What caused the issue and what prompted past and present interest and concern with it? Who is interested in this issue and why? What are the various views in the ongoing conversation associated with it?

Your Mission: Select an issue you’re interested in exploring, and do some research and background reading on the subject. Consult four outside sources (three of which must come from the library) and integrate their information into your paper. Then, analyze the rhetorical situation. And finally, give your personal response at the end of the essay, after the various views have been thoroughly explored.

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What caused the issue and what prompted past and present interest and concern with it? Who is interested in this issue and why? What are the various views in the ongoing conversation associated with it?
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Remember, the focus of this essay is not traditional argument – to make a claim and support it with evidence – that’s what your research paper is for! You’re exploring the various claims surrounding the issue, while remaining objective. Your concluding paragraph will offer your personal opinion/response to the various views, but not before then.

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