The Briefing Note assignment includes identifying and researching a controversial partisan government policy or issue. The debate topics will be selected during the second week of class. Students will explain in the Briefing Note what communicative actions were taken to date, providing communications and policy recommendations, outlining key components of a proposed key message plan, and providing a list of best practice suggestions based on research into policy solutions on the selected topic from a partisan view. Students will sign up to represent a key figure in a political party, on whose behalf they will be writing the Briefing Note as a communications officer.
INSTRUCTIONS: For your chosen (or assigned) topic, you will be expected to write a summary Briefing Note of research materials that you find while researching your debate topic. As well, some reading materials will be provided by your instructor on Blackboard to help situate the debate, and each team member can use those provided sources in your research.
Read all of the files provided by the instructor on Blackboard for your assigned topic, once the topic has been finalized (there will only be three situating readings at most). Plus, you will be expected to search the media and/or scholarly articles for any recent developments on your topic (and use those in your Briefing Note), which must include two scholarly articles and two media sources at the bare minimum.
You will prepare your Briefing Note summary as follows below.
Required Formatting and Briefing Note Expectations
The Briefing Note must be 2-3 pages in length (maximum), double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, using APA style citations and References, and following accepted Briefing Note heading format guidelines (which include the standard headings of Issue, Background, Current Status, Strategic Considerations, Options/Recommendations, Conclusion, Next Steps, and References).
Please use the Week Two slides as a guide for creating this Briefing Note, along with the numerous examples found online and in the supplied Required Reading on Briefing Notes (see the Course Schedule for Week Two: Ted Glenn’s Ch. 7 on Briefing Notes).
In the Briefing Note document, you must present the current position of The Government (or The Opposition/organization that you are representing) on the topic you choose to research and make recommendations to your government’s leader using any new information that has come into public debate and recent media. To this end, you are required to use at least two academic sources and two media sources. One of the media sources has to be from the past few months in terms of currency. You will most likely have to consult other party documents such as the party platform or current party position papers to demonstrate the party’s current position. Hansard, the official transcript of government debates, and similar government documents could be used as well. Many of these documents will have been discussed in our readings and our Week Two Library Research assignment.
You are expected to answer the following questions in your Briefing Note using your research (and some of the research provided by your instructor, which will be supplied in Week Three):
What are the main priorities for your government concerning the topic you have selected, from the perspective of your role (e.g., the perspective of the minister or shadow minister that you have selected to role play as)?
What are the options for action that you would recommend to your party leader?
Out of those options, what would be your single main recommendation?
Briefing Note Headings
Use the following suggestions to complete each expected section of your Briefing Note.
Issue: You must include the debate resolution from the ruling Government in your Briefing Note as a full sentence (the topics will be developed in Week Two; each team debating will have the same resolution statement in this part of the assignment, so that you all know what you are debating). For example, here is an Issue statement:
Be it resolved that prostitution will be decriminalized in Canada.
Background: List the main policy problem, or problems, the policy makers or policy advocates are attempting to solve. Who are the main actors or stakeholders involved in the issue? What are they arguing?
Strategic Considerations: Summarize the main actions or recommendations which are being taken or advocated as solutions to the problem(s). You should also summarize the main arguments being used to back up each of these actions or recommendations. As well, note what you expect the other side’s arguments might be and how you would counter them in a debate (i.e., sketch out the other debate team’s possible arguments that they could use against your team).
Options/Recommendations: Write a paragraph on the strategies and key points you will use in your particular debate role (e.g. Prime Minister, Minister of the Crown, Minister of the Opposition, Leader of the Opposition, Rebuttal, and/or Conclusion). What would be your main recommendation to your party leader (and/or Canadians) based on your role?
ROLE PLAYING: Remember, you are playing a role here. You may personally disagree with the arguments you are putting forth, but as a debater, this is irrelevant. You should have an understanding of both sides of an argument, and know how to debate the issues in several different ways.