For my international relations course this fall, I’m introducing a series of brief simulations — two class periods each. I’ve created a preparatory writing assignment that I call the “briefing memo” for each simulation. Here are the instructions:
You are employed by the Humanitarian Information Unit at the U.S. Department of State (HIU). A new President has been inaugurated, and the President’s senior foreign policy advisors want to identify potential areas of conflict around the world. The HIU has been assigned the task of providing these advisors with its assessment of locations that have a history of political and economic instability. Your job is to write a briefing memo for your superiors that does the following:
♦ Analyzes and references the information that is contained in the articles and reports that have been provided to you by HIU staff.
♦ Identifies reasons why conflict might occur in this location.
♦ Explain what form the conflict is likely to take if it does occur.
♦ Recommends in one sentence what the U.S. government’s response should be if conflict does occur.
Your superiors are extremely busy and want information that is concise, detailed, and easy to read. The memo must be in single-spaced paragraphs with a blank line between each paragraph, 11 or 12 point font, and no longer than two pages. Sources should be cited within the text rather than with footnotes or endnotes—for example, “(Eggers, 87)”. The body of the memo should include sub-headings of “Overview” (one paragraph), “Conflict Scenario” (at least one paragraph), and “Recommendation” (one sentence).
I’ve linked these instructions with a sample memo on the course’s website.
Links to the entire Real Thing series: