41. Ethics of Politicians. The pervasiveness of political corruption has become disheartening. President Clinton was caught in the act of lying; congressional leaders have admitted to philandering; local politicians have been convicted of taking bribes. There are many ways to look at this problem:
- Is unethical behavior in politicians a new phenomenon? Find historical examples, if any.
- Are people in general less ethical now, or is the press more inclined to ferret out indiscretions?
- Is corruption peculiar to politicians and others in power?
- Does private infidelity or dishonesty mean a politician is less able? Are independent counsels on political witch hunts or unbiased fact-finding missions?
- There is so much information available on this topic that you will be able to handle it better if you limit it by case or a single person or act.
42. Ethnic Cleansing. The Romans attempted it with the Christians; European explorers wiped out native tribes; Hitler tried it with the Holocaust. Ethnic cleansing is the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, political, racial, or ethnic group. Should such actions be punished? Who should decide? Consider a modern example, such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, or Palestine. The afflicted group is often not able to defend itself. What is the responsibility of a more powerful nation when there is an apparent abuse of power? Or would the world be better off without certain groups? Suggestions for narrowing your topic:
- Ethnic Cleansing in Rwanda
- Ethnic Cleansing in Yugoslavia
- Ethnic Relations
- Human Rights Violations
43. Food and Drug Administration Approvals. An argument used by those who are ill, particularly AIDS victims, is that medicine takes too long to be approved for human use. Many drugs are used in other parts of the world for years before being approved in the United States. Although this keeps inappropriate drugs off the market (consider the thalidomide babies), it also results in desperate people traveling to other countries for their treatment. Read a little on this topic before you begin selecting sources. Newspapers have very good articles for background information. You can contact the FDA, but there is so much available that it is probably unnecessary. You might try to find examples of people who have won the right to use medicines before FDA approval. Suggestions for narrowing your topic:
- Drug Trials and Approvals
- AIDS and FDA
- FDA and Approval
- FDA Regulations
- Clinical Trials
44. Fitness and Children. According to recent newspaper articles, children are spending more time in front of the television, the obesity rate is increasing, and schools are cutting back on physical education.
- How physically fit are America’s children, and how do they compare with children around the world?
- What are the long-term effects of being unfit as a child? The short-term effects?
- Is it detrimental for children to lift weights, run, and exert themselves the way adults do?
- Team sports versus individual sports: Does one type of sport build more confidence than another?
- Why study martial arts (judo, etc.) or ballet as a child?
45. Flexible Work Schedules. With the changing family, flexible schedules may make it possible, or at least easier, for some people to work. Flexible work schedules can include flextime (working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, for example); job sharing (two people working half time to fill one full-time position); or telecommuting (working from home and staying in touch electronically and via telephone).
- Should companies provide flexible work schedules to already-established employees? Would it be a worthwhile benefit?
- Does job sharing cost the company more money than hiring one person to do a job? What are the costs involved (benefits, training, etc.)?
- Do employees on flexible scheduling give as much to the organization as regular employees? If not, do they give more or less?
- Telecommuting is a type of flexible schedule. When is it a viable option?
46. Food Safety. Is our food safe to eat? There are many aspects to consider with this topic. You might look at just one area thoroughly or cover several of them as a broader topic.
- Occasional outbreaks of food-related illness are reported in the news, such as Mad Cow Disease, food poisoning, or tainted strawberries.
- New techniques such as irradiated food could have unknown consequences.
- Herbal supplements do not currently have standardized quantities or purity standards.
- Is it healthier to eat organic foods rather than take a chance on pesticide residue?
- Do antibiotics in animal feeds affect human health?
47. Gambling. Are Americans changing their minds about the ethics or morals of gambling? We see a dramatic increase in the number of state lotteries and casinos. Ten years ago Las Vegas was for grown-ups. Today most visitors to Las Vegas are families, and children gamble for prizes at arcades. Consider some of the following questions:
- Who, exactly, is doing the gambling? Is it effectively a “tax” against the poor?
- Now that gambling is easily accessible, are there more compulsive gamblers? Does gambling increase poverty?
- How does gambling affect the individual gambler and his or her family?
- Does it encourage organized crime?
- Does the prevalence of gambling reflect lower moral standards?
- Have state lotteries affected attitudes about gambling?
- Are religious institutions involved in this issue? Do they promote (with Bingo nights, for example) or discourage gambling?
48. Gangs. Limit your search or you will find too much information. Following are some possible topics:
- Gangs: urban or rural phenomenon, or both?
- Who joins gangs?
- Gangs and rap singers
- Government anti-gang programs
- What kinds of violence do they commit?
- Gangs in schools
- Gang initiation ceremonies
- Evolution of gangs
- Peer pressure and gangs
- Gang identification: colors, hand signs, graffiti
49. Gender Issues. Try to look for the facts. First, which gender differences are real? Which are influenced by societal expectations? You may find information on teacher bias in schools, where girls receive less attention than boys, and on society’s unfair expectations of boys, who supposedly are not allowed to show emotion. A recent study showed that when people are reminded of stereotypes before a test (girls cannot do math, white boys cannot jump) they tend to meet those stereotypes.
- What are ways in which males or females are affected by gender differences (pay, learning, stress, violence)?
- Do we perceive the roles of men and women in the same way we did a generation ago?
- Can we take advantage of gender differences to improve society?
There have been many studies on this topic.
50. Glass Ceiling. As employees climb the corporate ladder, is there an invisible glass ceiling beyond which certain employees, namely women and minorities, cannot advance.
- When women are promoted, do they receive the same benefits and salary for equal work?
- Is inequity a result of bias, or are women responsible for building a glass ceiling by choosing more nurturing jobs rather than those that pay better?
- Is there really a glass ceiling?
- If you believe there is a glass ceiling, what are the possible solutions?