HLS 301 – Critical Infrastructure Protection

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Effects of Decaying Infrastructure on
U.S. Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience

Critical Thinking Position Paper One – GUIDELINES
HLS 301 – Critical Infrastructure Protection

Synopsis / Objective:

The protection of the United States’ critical infrastructure is vital to daily life for each and every American.   The disruption of the nation’s critical infrastructure would have devastating impacts due to high level of connectedness at all levels of society.   However, when most consider possible threats for these disruptions, situations such as terrorism and natural disasters are the most commonly identified.  While these threats are important and should be safeguarded against, the decaying of American infrastructure is often overlooked when considering protection.   The following position paper will allow students to think critically about the relationship between decaying infrastructure and infrastructure protection and resilience.   Students will assume the role of a state homeland security director and write a letter to the congressional representative of their choice.   In doing so, students should define their position on this issue by utilizing the critical thinking elements of thought: (http://www.criticalthinking.org/ctmodel/logic-model1.htm).   Additional details regarding this deliverable are presented below.

  1. Deliverable Title: Effects of Decaying Infrastructure – Position Paper One (PP1)
  2. Deliverable Due Dates:
Deliverable: Due Date: Instructions:
PP1 – Peer Assessment Version See Syllabus / Schedule One Hard Copy to Class / One Electronic Copy to Blackboard
PP1 – Return Peer Assessment Feedback See Syllabus / Schedule Two Hard Copies to Class (1 – Student, 1 – Professor)
PP1 – 2nd Version – Professor Assessment See Syllabus / Schedule Submit via Blackboard & One Hard Copy in Class


PP1 – Professor Provides Feedback / Assessment See Syllabus / Schedule Feedback / Assessment Provided
PP1 – Final Version See Syllabus / Schedule Submit via Blackboard


  1. Submission Format:                    

See chart above – some deliverables will require hard copy submissions while others will require electronic submissions via Blackboard and others both submission formats.


  1. Page Requirement:             Minimum of four pages, which does not include title or

                                                      reference pages


  1. Deliverable Instructions:


Students will develop a business/professional letter for position paper one (PP1).   A position paper presents an informed position about an issue.  The goal is to convince the audience that the position is valid and worth listening to.  It is important that students validate their position with evidence to ensure the validity of the claims.

For this paper, students will assume the role of a state homeland security director and write a letter to the congressional representative of their choice.   The issue at hand is whether decaying critical infrastructure should be a concern for homeland security practitioners.   While developing this position paper, the critical thinking elements of thought must be incorporated into the narrative (body) of the letter.  Students should provide a plan of action that supports either position that they take: A) decaying infrastructure is a homeland security issue that should be addressed by homeland security officials or B) decaying infrastructure is not a homeland security issue and should be taken care of by other agencies.   *Please Note* – a suggested format for the body of the paper as well as a simple outline for the parts of a basic business letter are presented below.

As previously noted, there will be three versions of the deliverable (peer, second and final), following a” writing across the disciplines” approach.  This approach allows students to understand where discrepancies may exist and then remedy those discrepancies over an extended period of time.  This is in contrast to the traditional method of an instructor grading and providing feedback on an assignment and most students quickly reviewing it and discarding it following review.   Overall, the writing across the disciplines approach has been proven to further refine student writing skills.

The first version (Peer Assessment Version) will allow students to trade their papers with another student in the course and provide constructive feedback to each other prior to the professor reviewing the paper.  For this first deliverable, students will bring a hard copy of their paper to class for their peer and submit an electronic copy to Blackboard™.    One week later, students will bring two copies of the feedback with them to class (hard copy), one for the professor and one for the student.  As will be outlined below, this deliverable will be worth 25 points but the deliverable graded will be the actual feedback that the student gives to their peer.

Next, students will remedy deficiencies identified by their peers and submit the second version to the professor via Blackboard and a printed submission.   This will be the first time the professor reviews the assignment.  The professor will take approximately two weeks to provide feedback on the paper as well as assign a score (up to 25 points).   This will give the student adequate feedback upon which to develop their third and final deliverable, the final version.   The final version will also be uploaded to Blackboard in a Microsoft Word™ document and a printed copy will be submitted in class.  The final version is worth 50 points of the overall grade.




(Courtesy:  University of Hawaii Writing Center)

  1. Introduction

___A. Introduce the topic

___B. Provide background on the topic

___C. Assert the thesis (your view of the issue)

  1. Counter Argument

___A. Summarize the counterclaims

___B. Provide supporting information for counterclaims

___C. Refute the counterclaims

___D. Give evidence for argument

III. Your Argument

___A. Assert point #1 of your claims

_____1. Give your opinion

_____2. Provide support

___B. Assert point #2 of your claims

_____1. Give your opinion

_____2. Provide support

___C. Assert point #3 of your claims

_____1. Give your opinion

_____2. Provide support

  1. Conclusion

___A. Restate your argument

___B. Provide a plan of action


Parts of a Basic Business Letter  (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/653/01/)

*Generally business letters are placed on the agency’s letterhead.

  1. Sender’s Address
  2. Date
  3. Inside Address
  4. Salutation
  5. Body
  6. Closing







  1. Point Values
Deliverable: Points Possible:
Peer Assessment Version 25
Second Version (Professor Assessed) 25
Final Version 50


  1. Grading Criteria – Second / Final Version:
Grading Criteria: Points Possible:
1.  Introduction: Purpose, Goal, Question, Problem, Issue

– All required topics addressed

5 / 10
2.  Information Literacy Skills: Information, Data,  Evidence, Context 5 / 10
3.  Conceptualization Skills: Assumptions, Concepts, Ideas, Points of View, Frame of Reference, Alternatives 5 / 10
4.  Analysis Skills: Inferences, Interpretations, Implications, Consequences 5 / 10
5.  Writing Skills

– Formatting and APA Style Guidelines

– Grammar/Spelling

5 / 10
TOTAL: 25 / 50

position_paper.docx 6/2/2014 How to Write a Position Paper The purpose of a position paper is to generate support on an issue. It describes a position on an issue and the rational for that position. The position paper is based on facts that provide a solid foundation for your argument. 1 In the position paper you should: • Use evidence to support your position, such as statistical evidence or dates and events. • Validate your position with authoritative references or primary source quotations. • Examine the strengths and weaknesses of your position. • Evaluate possible solutions and suggest courses of action. Choose an issue where there is a clear division of opinion and which is arguable with facts and inductive reasoning. You may choose an issue on which you have already formed an opinion. However, in writing about this issue you must examine your opinion of the issue critically.2 Prior to writing your position paper, define and limit your issue carefully. Social issues are complex with multiple solutions. Narrow the topic of your position paper to something that is manageable. Research your issue thoroughly, consulting experts and obtaining primary documents. Consider feasibility, cost-effectiveness and political/social climate when evaluating possible solutions and courses of action. 3 The following structure is typical of a position paper: • An introduction • Identification of the issue • Statement of the position • The body • Background information • Supporting evidence or facts • A discussion of both sides of the issue • A conclusion • Suggested courses of action • Possible solutions The introduction should clearly identify the issue and state the author’s position. It should be written in a way that catches the reader’s attention. The body of the position paper may contain several paragraphs. Each paragraph should present an idea or main concept that clarifies a portion of the position statement and is supported by evidence or facts. Evidence can be primary source quotations, statistical data, interviews with experts, and indisputable dates or events. Evidence should lead, through inductive reasoning, to the main concept or idea presented in the paragraph. The body may begin with some background information and should incorporate a discussion of both sides of the issue. The conclusion should summarize the main concepts and ideas and reinforce, without repeating, the introduction or body of the paper. It could include suggested courses of action and possible solutions. 4 1 Tucker, Kerry, & Derelian, Doris, Rouner, Donna. (1997). Building the case: Position papers, backgrounders, fact sheets, and biographical sketches. In Public relations writing: An issue-driven behavioral approach (pp.79- 85). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2 Axelrod, Rise B., & Cooper, Charles R. (1993). R. Position paper (pp.446-451). In Reading critically, writing well: A reader and guide. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 3 Hansen, Kristine. (1998). Public position papers and opinion pieces. In A rhetoric for the social sciences: A guide to academic and professional communication (pp. 301-306). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 4 Kashatus, William C. (2002). Present history: Position and local history research papers. In Past, present and personal (pp. 46-48). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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