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Potential Research Topics: SOCIAL ISSUES

This guide will help with settling on a research topic for class.


SOCIAL ISSUES: No Dreamer Appeal by Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal by the Trump Administration that
challenged legal protections for immigrants that were brought here illegally as children and often
referred to as Dreamers. Was what the basis for the Supreme Court to refuse to hear an appeal?
What has been the basis of lower court rulings to continue the standing legal protections that
Dreamers now have?
SEARCH TERMS: Trump AND Supreme Court AND Dreamers

SOCIAL ISSUES: Pope Francis’ Latin American Trip
Pope Francis has made a sixth trip to Latin America, and, just as it was in his first five, he
did not return to Argentina, his home country. Argentinians think one reason the Pope does not visit
their country is that he doesn’t want to appear to lend support to any of the political factions in
Argentina. Could there be other reasons? What are the main political groups in Argentina and what
are Francis’ past relations with the leaders of these groups?
SEARCH TERMS: Pope Francis AND Argentina

SOCIAL ISSUES: Immigration Proposal
President Trump’s immigration proposal contains a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million
illegal immigrants that were brought here as children (called Dreamers after President Obama’s
DREAM Act) as well as plans to fund a border wall among other changes in immigration policy.
How are the main proposals going to be funded and what are some of the other expected impacts
of this proposal if it passes? What has been the reaction from the public and from other politicians
to President Trump’s proposal?
SEARCH TERMS: Trump AND immigration AND wall AND dreamers

SOCIAL ISSUES: Australia Climbing Ban
It has been decided to ban rock climbing starting in 2019 on Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock)
as it is a sacred site for the Aboriginal people. Currently 60,000 people a year ignore a sign asking
them not to climb it and make the ascent. Who controls Uluru and decided to ban climbing? What
condition was met that allowed for this decision?
SEARCH TERMS: Australia AND Uluru AND climbing

SOCIAL ISSUES: Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment has become a top social issue in the American workplace culture.
Recent harassment charges against celebrities, media figures and politicians have caused
businesses, schools, government offices and other organizations around the country to look into
their culture and examine how well people are being protected against sexual predators as well as
reviewing what constitutes sexual harassment. How are the mounting allegations changing the
way the entertainment industry deals with harassment? What is the current process of dealing with
these charges in the U.S. Congress and how is it being reevaluated? How is this issue impacting
other organizations and how are schools dealing with it?
SEARCH TERMS: sexual harassment AND (Hollywood OR entertainment OR politicians OR
Congress OR Senate)

A radical left-wing activist group called Antifa (name derives from the word antifascist) has
recently become more publicly visible in the media for their direct, sometimes violent, reaction
against right-wing protesters and white supremacy ideology. They link fascism to capitalism. How
have different leaders from different political positions responded to Antifa? What is the unusual
history of the name Antifa?

SOCIAL ISSUES: Charlottesville Violence
A political rally of far-right extremists called Unite the Right protested the removal of a
statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia. The protest became
contentious when a much larger group of counter-protesters showed up which led to one white
supremacist ramming his car into the counter- protesters. The chaos led to a tragic death and 19
injuries. What are the names of some of the alt-right extremist groups and what are their goals?
What was the response from President Trump to the violence and what was the response from
some other political leaders? What is being done to prevent this kind of violence in the aftermath of
the Charlottesville tragedy?
SEARCH TERMS: Charlottesville AND (protest OR rally OR violence)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Immigration and Texas Law
A Texas law, known as Senate Bill 4 that would allow police to question if a person is in the
U.S. legally during routine traffic stops and jail has been blocked by a federal judge. What is the
legal basis used by the judge for blocking this law? What is the legal argument used by those who
support this law?
SEARCH TERMS: (immigra* OR sanctuary) AND Texas AND Senate Bill 4

SOCIAL ISSUES: Triple Talaq Rejected
India’s highest court has outlawed the Moslem divorce known as the triple talaq. This
allowed Moslem men to divorce their wives by saying the Arabic word talaq – divorce- three times.
Is this the law in most majority Muslim population countries, like Pakistan or Indonesia? How was
this ruling received in India?
SEARCH TERMS: India AND Muslim AND (divorce OR talaq)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Political Battle Over DACA
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that President Trump will be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which offers work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. How does DACA work and what have been the objections that are driving this change? What is the schedule for phasing it out and what are some of the strategies being considered? What are the impacts on business that politicians are trying to deal with as DACA is eased out? Who is leading the effort for different ideas and how are the politics of these changes playing out in the U.S. Congress?
SEARCH TERMS: DACA OR Deferred Action for Childhood

TOPIC: A fire broke out in an apartment on a lower floor of the Grenfell Tower in London, United Kingdom and swiftly moved up the cladding of the exterior of the building. Dozens of people died. What type of housing was the tower and who were its residents? What caused the original fire? Why did the fire spread the way it did? What was the government’s reaction to this fire? Why were the residents of the tower angry after the fire?
SEARCH TERMS: Grenfell Tower AND fire

SOCIAL ISSUES:  Limited Travel Ban  
TOPIC: The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travel.  What parts of the executive order are being upheld, which are not and why?  What was the purpose of the travel restrictions that the president has imposed and what have been some objections voiced by the public?  
SEARCH TERMS: Supreme Court AND limited AND travel AND ban

SOCIAL ISSUES: Pope Francis and the Clergy
Conservative Catholic clergy have begun criticizing the actions of Pope Francis in
increasing harsh terms. What are their specific complaints? Who seems to be their leader? How
valid do their criticisms seem to be?
SEARCH TERMS: Pope Francis AND conservatives

SOCIAL ISSUES: New Immigration Guidelines
President Trump has prepared new immigration rules to replace his previous executive
order that had been blocked by a court ruling. What are the specifics of these new rules and how
were they written to be in accordance with law? What has been the reaction to these new rules?
SEARCH TERMS: Trump AND immigration AND (rule* OR order*)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Sanctuary Cities
President Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to release a list of
sanctuary cities and any violent crimes committed by those who have been released into their
communities by sanctuary policies. How many sanctuary cities are there in the United States and
what have been some of the most high-profile responses by mayors of these cities in response to
the president? What is a sanctuary city and what are the strongest arguments for and against
SEARCH TERMS: sanctuary cities AND Trump

SOCIAL ISSUES: Domestic Violence
Russian lawmakers are on the verge of decriminalizing some forms of domestic violence, allowing corporal punishment of children and some spousal abuse as well. What is the reasoning behind this proposed change in the law? What do the Russian public think of this? What is the lawmakers’ reasoning for decriminalizing domestic abuse?
SEARCH TERMS: Russia AND domestic violence

SOCIAL ISSUES: Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy Ended
One of the sticking points between Cuba and the U.S. was the U.S. policy on Cuban refugees. They would be returned to Cuba if they were still on the ocean, but could claim political asylum if they had made U.S. soil, wherever it was. Everyone else trying to come to the U.S. by water would be returned if they had made land. The Obama administration ended that policy. How did they end it? Will the new administration restore it? How do Cuban refugees in transit feel about it?
SEARCH TERMS: Cubans AND wet foot, dry foot

SOCIAL ISSUES: Women’s Marches
On the day after President Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, masses of women, men and children around the United States and overseas protested in what has become known globally as the Women’s March. What are the key issues that these protesters are concerned about and what do they hope to achieve by making their case public in these marches? What has been the response around the world to the protests? What were some of the unprecedented aspects of the marches? What other massive protests have taken place since this March and what are the themes of them?
SEARCH TERMS: Women’s March* AND protest

SOCIAL ISSUES: National Monuments
President Barack Obama has designated two new national monuments, The Bears Ears
National Monument in Utah and The Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. What is being
preserved in each of these locations by their new national monument status? What has been this
criticism of designating these two areas as national monuments?
SEARCH TERMS: Bears Ears AND Gold Butte AND national monument*

SOCIAL ISSUES: A 45 Minute Long Test
A long range study that followed children from before they were school age until they were
38 has shown that a test administered to them at age three was a good predictor of whether they
would have troubled lives or not. The study was meant to determine if the Pareto Principle was
accurate. That principle holds that 20% of a group will consume 80% of the goods of services
required by the group as a whole. About 20% of those followed became obese, were involved with
the social services or the criminal justice system, which seems to bear out the principle. If this is so,
would it be ethical to test everyone at age three in order to intervene in the lives of those whose
scores might predict problems later in life? Could this be a cost-effective way to begin to solve
some of society’s ills?
SEARCH TERMS: Pareto Principle

SOCIAL ISSUES: Ni Una Menos (Not One Less)
Women demonstrated against violence towards them in multiple cities in Argentina and in
other Latin American countries. There is enough violence against women in Argentina for it to be
classified officially as femicide. What are some of the social conditions that contribute to violence
against women? In what other countries were protests held? Are there similar social conditions
across the South American continent?
SEARCH TERMS: Argentina AND women AND protests

SOCIAL ISSUES: Refugee Camp Closing
France is closing the refugee camp called the Jungle in Calais and moving the refugees to
other centers further away from the English Channel. They need to move around 6,000 refugees to
accomplish this goal. Why are they making this move at this time? How are the refugees dealing
with this change in their lives? What current political event going on in France may have had an
impact on this action?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND refugees

SOCIAL ISSUES: Best Countries for Girls
: Save the Children ranked 144 countries to determine in which was the best to be a girl.
Sweden came in first, Niger last. What social conditions in each country did they use to determine
the rankings? What were some of the results that surprised you and why?
SEARCH TERMS: Save the Children AND girls

SOCIAL ISSUES: Military Reenlistment Bonuses
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop any demand that
National Guard members repay the bonuses they got for reenlistment. How do these bonuses
work and what was discovered that created a call for bonuses to be reclaimed by the Pentagon?
What kind of financial difficulties did the reclamation have on many vets and military personnel?
What was Secretary Carter’s reasoning to halt the reclamation?
SEARCH TERMS: Ashton Carter AND reenlist* AND bonus*

SOCIAL ISSUES: Migrant Crisis
TOPIC: The migrant crisis continues in Eastern Europe, as Balkan leaders met with EU leaders to find a way to deal with the increasing numbers of refugees from the Middle East. Winter is looming, and the bad weather will take its toll on the immigrants. What did the leaders decide at their summit meeting? What are the richer countries of Northern Europe pledging to do? How do the UK policies differ from those of its continental peers?
SEARCH TERMS: Balkan nations AND refugees

SOCIAL ISSUES: Russian Plane Crash in Egypt
TOPIC: Egypt is leading a multi-national investigation into the crash of a Russian plane.  What evidence has been discovered that can help determine how the plane crashed?  How many passengers were on the plan and where were they from?  How is this investigation being conducted, and what are some of the primary questions that investigators have?
SEARCH TERMS: Egypt AND Russian AND plan AND A-321

SOCIAL ISSUES: One-Child Policy Changed
TOPIC: China has stopped its one-child policy, in place since 1979 though some modifications were made over the years, and will allow each family to have two children. The old policy was seen as a way to limit population growth, but an unintended consequence of it was a gender imbalance, as male children were favored. Why make the change now? What current demographic problem is the new policy supposed to improve? How successful was the one-child policy? What were some of the excesses of its enforcement?
SEARCH TERMS: China AND one-child policy

SOCIAL ISSUES: Planned Parenthood Revises Policy     
TOPIC:  In response to public outcry and Congressional hearings over controversial videotapes of discussions between top managers at Planned Parenthood and people at medical laboratories regarding the specifics of payment and procedure in using aborted fetal tissue for medical purposes, Planned Parenthood has revised its reimbursement policy for use of fetal tissue.  What are the specific procedures, conditions and medical benefits in using the fetal tissue?  What has been most controversial about the videos and what information in these videos has been confirmed and what information has been discredited and how?  What was the Planned Parenthood’s reimbursement policy at the time of the videotaping and how is it changing?
SEARCH TERMS: Planned Parenthood AND video*

SOCIAL ISSUES: Border Controls Return  
TOPIC: The terrorist attacks in Paris and threats in Brussels have caused European countries to strengthen their borders and to require documentation from travelers. They are also rethinking their immigration policies. What countries have strengthened their border controls? What countries are rethinking their immigration policies? How can the fight against terrorism be balanced with providing support for refugees?
SEARCH TERMS: Europe AND border controls AND (refugees OR immigrants)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Black Lives Matter     
TOPIC: The Black Lives Matter activist movement has grown in influence since its inception after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, expanding from a watchdog group over law enforcement and judicial process to checking on the inclusion and treatment of black students and professors on college campuses.  Who are the leaders of this movement and what are the stated goals of it? How has it influenced the 2016 presidential election?   
SEARCH TERMS: Black Lives Matter

SOCIAL ISSUES: Hunger in the Middle East  
TOPIC: The turmoil in the Middle East that is driving part of immigration crisis is Europe is coupled with its impacts on the lives of those caught up in its violence. Hunger and lack of drinking water are becoming more prevalent, particularly in Syria where the various fighting forces control who gets what. What are the conditions in individual countries around the region and what has caused them? Is the use of starvation tactics a war crime?
SEARCH TERMS: Middle East OR individual country names AND (hunger or starvation)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Facebook Relationships     
TOPIC: A study of Facebook social media users in the Royal Society Open Science journal show that offering more accurate definitions of many online relationships would require adding an acquaintance status in addition to the current friend status.  What is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance and why would it matter on social media?  What are some of the specifics of the study and how did it explore online relationships?
SEARCH TERMS: Facebook AND Royal Society Open Science

SOCIAL ISSUES: Hajj Disasters
TOPIC: This year’s hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, was plagued by accidents. A construction crane fell on some pilgrims and later, a stampede caused over 700 deaths and hundreds of other injuries. How have the Saudi Arabian authorities responded to these events? What did other Muslim nations have to say about them? Is this the first time things like this have occurred during the ceremonies?
SEARCH TERMS: Saudi Arabia AND (hajj OR Mecca)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Pope in the U.S.   
TOPIC:  Pope Francis has toured three major U.S. cities and made the first papal address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.  What themes did he focus on in his speeches during this visit?  What has been the praise and the criticism of the messages from his U.S. tour by leaders in this country?
SEARCH TERMS: Pope AND (U.S. OR United States OR Philadelphia OR New York OR D.C. OR DC)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Kim Davis and Gay Marriage    
TOPIC:  Kim Davis, a county clerk for Rowan County, KY refused to issue licenses to gay couples as it offends her religious principles.  What Supreme Court ruling was being recognized when Kentucky started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples and on what grounds did Davis seek exemption from it by her acts of defiance?  What religious liberties does the U.S. Constitution grant citizens and in what areas does the constitution restrict religious liberty?   
SEARCH TERMS: Kim Davis AND gay AND Rowan County

SOCIAL ISSUES: Thai Labor Practices
TOPIC: A multi-article Associated Press investigation revealed that the Thai shrimp industry runs on slave or forced labor, particularly the fishing boats and the shelling stations. What did the AP find? How did the Thai industry respond to the accusations? Which U.S. grocery chains stock Thai shrimp and which do not? Was this the first time problems in the industry have come to light?
SEARCH TERMS: Thailand AND shrimp industry AND slavery 

SOCIAL ISSUES: Kentucky Marriage Licenses     
TOPIC: Kentucky will now issue marriage licenses without the name of the clerk on them.  Why was this change made?  What has been the best arguments for and against making this change?
SEARCH TERMS: Kentucky AND clerk AND gay AND license

SOCIAL ISSUES: Push to Eliminate Child Marriage
TOPIC: Leaders of faith, social workers, child rights activists and public representatives met in Bangladesh to discuss strategies to ending the social ‘curse’ and family practice of forcing child marriage. Priests play a large role in intervention within families where parents have decided to have their children wed. What are some of the tactics used to stop this custom? How do forced, young marriages affect the children who marry? Why are girls, particularly, at risk for lifetime of turmoil in a forced marriage?  
SEARCH TERMS: child marriage

SOCIAL ISSUES: Westminster Dog Show     
TOPIC: A German Shorthaired Pointer is the winner of this year's Westminster Dog Show.  What are the qualities of this breed that can be displayed in dog shows? What are the seven new breeds that were added to the show this year?
SEARCH TERMS: Westminster Dog Show AND Shorthaired Pointer.

SOCIAL ISSUES: Refugee Agreement
TOPIC: The EU and Turkey have come to an agreement about the immigrants who are in Greece. They will be sent back to Turkey. This has effectively turned their refugee centers into detention camp. How are aid agencies reacting to this agreement? What did Turkey get in exchange for their agreement? Does this seem like a workable solution to you? If not, what would be a way to proceed?
SEARCH TERMS: EU AND Turkey AND immigrants OR refugees

SOCIAL ISSUES: North Carolina Governor Signs Controversial Transgender Law
TOPIC: Bill 2 now bars local municipalities from making their own laws barring discrimination in public places based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Public schools, government agencies and college campuses now require multi-occupancy restrooms and locker rooms be used only by people based on their ‘biological sex’ stated on their birth certificate. What impact will this law have on the LGBTQ communities of North Carolina? How will the requirements of this law be managed at the local level? How have politicians and civic organizations outside of North Carolina responded to the passing of Bill 2?
SEARCH TERMS: North Carolina AND transgender

SOCIAL ISSUES: World Humanitarian Summit
TOPIC:  The World Humanitarian Summit opened in Istanbul. This meeting seeks to find new ways to deal with current development and humanitarian aid. The ongoing refugee crisis is a case in point. Who called for this meeting? What sort of work went on before it occurred?  Who is attending? What humanitarian group decided not to attend and what were their reasons? What outcomes would make this meeting a success?
SEARCH TERMS: World Humanitarian Summit 

SOCIAL ISSUES:  Oklahoma Abortion Bill
TOPIC:  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon has vetoed a bill that would have banned abortion outright in the state.  What were her grounds for her veto and what is the governor’s position on abortion?  On what grounds did the bill claim to be constitutional?  
SEARCH TERMS: Oklahoma AND abortion AND veto

SOCIAL ISSUES: Refugee Crisis
TOPIC: The refugee crisis persists in Europe. Norway is beginning an experiment in giving refugees money if they’ll voluntary leave the Scandinavian country. What are other countries doing to deal with the refugees? Will the advent of summer mean that the flow of refugees will increase? Do you think Norway’s experiment will succeed?
SEARCH TERMS: Europe AND refugees AND (Syrians OR Somalis OR Afghans)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Transgender and Bathroom Facilities
TOPIC: A few states and companies are dealing with the issues of how to decide on bathroom facilities to transgender people. What are some of the bills and laws that different states have tried and what has been the reaction? What are the policies of these companies and what has been the reaction to those policies?
SEARCH TERMS: transgender AND bathroom

SOCIAL ISSUES: Land Claim Settled
TOPIC: The Kenbi land claim near Darwin in Northern Australia has been settled, with title being
returned to the Larrakia, the Aboriginal people who had lived there before the British colonized the
area. It has taken almost 40 years to reach this settlement. Why did it take so long to achieve this?
What is somewhat controversial about the details of the settlement?
SEARCH TERMS: Larrakia AND land claims

SOCIAL ISSUES: Texas Abortion Law
TOPIC: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Texas law has put an undue burden on abortion
rights. What specifically did the Supreme Court find in Texas law that they found made abortion
unfairly difficult? When did this Texas law go into effect and why? What other states are impacted
by the Supreme Court’s ruling and how?
SEARCH TERMS: Texas AND abortion AND Supreme Court

SOCIAL ISSUES: Black Lives Matter
TOPIC: Black Lives Matter is a movement created in the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin and grew rapidly as video recordings of unarmed black men being shot by police were shared on social media and picked up by the press. What are the stated goals of the Black Lives Matter movement and where have they been most effective? What has been controversial about this movement?
SEARCH TERMS: Black Lives Matter

SOCIAL ISSUES: Death Camp Visit
TOPIC: Pope Francis, on a five day visit to Poland that ends with a public mass at World Youth Day, visited the death camp at Auschwitz and met with Holocaust survivors. He left a message in the visitor’s book, but did not speak publicly. What did his message say? What other activities are taking place in Poland?
SEARCH TERMS: Pope Francis AND (Poland or Auschwitz)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Millennials Voting
TOPIC: While there are as many millennials as there are baby boomers in the US, millennials have a much lower turnout record when it comes to electing politicians. How are they profiled in today’s world? What are some of the social issues that impact their voting apathy? How are the presidential candidates attempting to reach this audience?
SEARCH TERMS: millennial* AND vot*

TOPIC: France has attempted to ban so-called Burkinis from public beaches. Burkinis are full body swimsuits that also have a headpiece and were designed to allow Muslim women to swim in public. Why did some French cities ban them? What did the highest court in France say when overturning the bans? How have they become a political issue?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND Burkinis AND bans

SOCIAL ISSUES: Refugee Conditions
TOPIC: Leaked incident reports dating from May 2013 to October 2015 reveal the mistreatment of children and other refugees held on Nauru. Australia has held boat people asylum seekers outside its borders on two islands: one for men and the other detention center for women and children. What did the leaked documents reveal? Is this the first time troubles have been reported on Nauru?
SEARCH TERMS: Nauru AND refugees