Showcase Your Academic And Professional Knowledge
Throughout your course work in Public Sociology you have learned about topics in applied and medical sociology, in addition to learning about the theoretical underpinnings and methodological rigor necessary to study topics in this area. The capstone brings together the knowledge gained throughout your program and can be used as a real-world example of your efforts in addressing a problem in your field. This Capstone course is more rigorous than a typical SOC course in that you are expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge, critical thinking skills, and excellent writing and communication skills.
Based on your areas of interest and expertise, you will prepare one of two types of papers:
- A policy brief on an issue related to applied sociology (this is very broad, so get topic approval from your instructor) that outlines scholarly research on the issue; current policies related to the issue; the role of culture, politics, and social inequalities in the issue; and evidence-based suggestions for future policies and practices related to the issue. The final brief will consist of four components:
- a literature review on current scholarly research on the topic
- current policies related to the issue
- the role of culture, politics, and social inequalities in the issue
- evidence-based suggestions for future policies and practices related to the issue
- A case study analysis of a community-based organization and/or social program. The final paper should consist of four components:
- a literature review of the type of organization up to present day [How did this type of organization begin, how has it changed, and what is it like now?]
- the role of culture, politics, and social inequalities in the type of organization [How do political differences, cultural norms, and social inequalities like racism and sexism shape the organization?]
- the financial aspects of the type of organization [How is the organization funded and what are the implications of this?]
- evidence-based suggestions for ensuring a future for the type of organization that promotes equality and well-being
If your choice is to write a policy brief, the policy issue must be on a topic that is current and relevant to applied sociology.
If your choice is to write a case study, the case being addressed must pertain to a current organization or program, preferably one you have experience working in or with. A case study is an analysis of a current challenge the organization or program is facing.
- Applied sociology briefs and cases will likely surround: ethical issues, diversity issues, policy issues, and service delivery issues.
- Medical sociology briefs and cases will likely surround heath and some other issue, such as ethics, diversity, inequalities, policy, and practice.
The paper will be about 8800 words. This does not include the Title page, References, or Appendix.
For further assistance with the formatting and APA guidelines refer to the Ashford Writing Center (AWC):
Following is an outline for the Capstone paper and guiding questions for each section of the paper:
- Title Page
- Follow the APA Manual format for the title
- The title of your paper is the first heading the reader sees at the top of the page that begins the paper (not introduction or background)
- Background: Case Study (700 words)
- Provide a background of the organization or program.
- Provide a brief description (one to two paragraphs) of the organization or program that provides information about its vision, mission, and services. Identify other stakeholders involved with the organization as it concerns the topic of the paper. What data supports why this topic is important? What solutions have been attempted, if any? Why were the outcomes of those solutions?
OR Policy Brief
- Identify the policy topic being explored; the topic history; importance of the topic locally, regionally, nationally, or globally; and who is or will be most impacted by the policy. Present the facts that support the problem exists and is worthy of a policy response. What data supports why this topic is important? What solutions have been attempted, if any? Why were the outcomes of those solutions?
- Statement of Challenge/Opportunity (700 Words)
- Case study: Identify the organization’s challenge being addressed, the activity being implemented, or the assets being strengthened. Explain the current situation and describe what issues the Capstone will be addressing. Identify a need for action or review the key arguments for why it needs to be addressed
- Policy Brief: Provide a description of the problem and the key arguments for why it needs to be addressed. Include a brief history of the problem and issue area. Only relevant history should be included. This could include legislative history, a history of policy actions, etc.
- Literature Review (2450 to 3500 words)
- What does the previous research say about the topic you are addressing?
- What are commonalities, interlocking findings and logic, or unanswered questions in the previous research that has been conducted on your topic?
- What assumptions, if any, have been made?
- This section can include data, testimony of experts in the field, reports and case studies, etc.
- Quotes are used sparingly – one or two direct quotes for the entire paper! You are to synthesize ideas and paraphrase.
- Analysis: (1750 words)
- What are the common threads, differences, and criticisms of the literature?
- How does the literature apply to, support, or conflict with the organizational issue or policy issue?
- Include tables, charts, or graphs if applicable.
- Include key actors, stakeholders, and constituents, and identify their position on the issue.
- Recommendation (1750 words)
- Present the recommended options, and identify and discuss the benefits and criticisms of the chosen options. What is the anticipated change or improvement that would result based on your research and analysis? Who needs to be involved, and in what way, for change to successfully happen?
- For the public policy paper, present the policy solution, including the authorizing mechanism (legislation, regulation, or executive action, etc.), how the policy will work, and what entity will implement it.
- Conclusion (350 to 700 words)
- Are the findings or recommendations briefly discussed in terms of the literature from the literature review?
- Are your insights clearly stated?
- Are implications for practice discussed?
- Are there suggestions for future research?
- Include a list of references for all your citations using APA formatting.
- Include survey results or other information that is too detailed to be included in the report.
- Appendices are ordered as they appear in the narrative of the paper and are ordered by letter. For example, the first appendix is Appendix A; the second is Appendix B, etc. In the narrative, remember to point the reader to the Appendix by including text that reads something like: “(see Appendix A)” or “Appendix A provides a copy of the survey instrument used to collect data.”