FES486 Oregon State Rangeland Or Publilc Lands Management Issue


The policy memo assignment provides students with the opportunity to investigate a controversial public lands policy issue and write a four-page (2,000 words) memo to a decision-maker. It allows students to conduct in-depth research about a controversial public lands issue and formulate and analyze policy options available to solve this issue/problem. Policy memo writing is a valuable skill in the professional workplace. It should highlight a controversial federal government-related public lands issue. The draft policy memo is a graded assignment and the instructor will provide feedback on how to improve the memo. Students can select their own topic, but must be sure it relates to the course. The instructor will provide an overview of how to approach this assignment (brainstorming, finding an appropriate topic, developing an outline, using academic references, etc.). The policy memo must include the following:

  • Problem statement
  • Background/context (include existing legal, regulatory, and policy issues)
  • Policy options (thorough description of available alternatives to resolve this issue/problem):
    • brief overview
    • advantages and disadvantages
    • views of different stakeholders
    • interdisciplinary approach (economic, political, legal, ecological, & social dimensions)
    • potential implementation problems
    • ways to overcome obstacles
  • Recommendation
  • Sources

Both the draft and revised policy memos must be four pages of text (2,000 words and single-spaced). An additional page is allowed for a table or graph. Use a minimum of 5 government documents, peer-reviewed journal articles, and other references from reputable academic sources. The policy memo needs to portray a balanced overview of the issue and include a concise discussion of policy options and recommendation.

Writing and Communication

Writing is an important and valued skill in public policy and planning. Assessment will consider both the content and the following written communication criteria:

  • Logical document structure (clear flow to paper; clearly organized sections)
  • Logical argument (clear topic sentences; clear links between sections and paragraphs)
  • Appropriate tone (avoids bias; assertions supported with evidence)
  • Appropriate voice (active voice; professional)
  • Grammar and punctuation
  • Referencing

Additional Materials on Writing a Policy Memo

Policy Memo Draft Rubric

Please review the Policy Memo Draft Rubric

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