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Drexel Library

Information Explorers: Learning Community


We will begin by choosing a topic, narrowing the topic, and identifying keywords to use in our initial search and formulation of research questions. You will want to consider the first three steps of the program when choosing a topic:

  1. Identify a broad area of interest that has is part of the current cultural, socio-political, or global conversation. Keep in mind that you want to choose something that extends beyond your major into the larger community of Philadelphia, the United State, or has global impact. We want to demonstrate how the institution of the library is critical in supporting access to information and tools to become literate (textual, visual, digital) and engaged citizens. Some examples may be: climate change/justice; economic systems, i.e. capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.; government systems, i.e. democracy, republic, oligarchy, totalitarian, anarchy, etc.; medicinal systems, i.e. Ayurveda, Integrative Medicine, Traditional Medicine, Conventional Medicine, etc.; United State labor movement; propaganda; censorship; free speech; access to information/technology. 

  2. Narrow the topic to a size that is researchable for the deliverable, which will be a poster presented to an audience in both a digital and revolving physical exhibition. An example of a narrowed topic may be: Anarchy in the United States or comparing Integrative to Conventional Western Medicine. You may also want to choose a popular scholar whose work you want to investigate in relationship to a social or political topic, such prominent (and sometimes controversial) figures may include: Slavoj Žižek on contemporary ideologies, Cornel West on Free Speech, Noam Chomsky on the system of higher education, bell hooks on feminism, Martha Craven Nussbaum's on autonomy, and many more. You may also choose to explore the ideologies presented in a book related to medial literacy. If you need help finding one, please contact your librarian. 

  3. Your first activity will be to create a concept map, as shown in the slideshow below. You will use Wikipedia as the starting point for your investigation of the topic, using the concept map to organize different elements of your topic. After having investigated the topic broadly, you will begin to narrow your topic in preparation for more directed research. Using your concept you will create a list of keywords that you can use to search the web more broadly and that will help you create general research questions in Step 2 of the project. 



The point of this activity is to allow you to fully explore a topic you care about and discover all the directions available to you as you discover connected concepts. This activity will be the foundation step of all the work you will be doing toward your deliverable. I is estimated it should take about 2-3 hours. 

Time: 2-3 hours

Materials: Paper; pen, pencil, or crayon; computer; camera or scanner; PPT, Google Slides, or other writing software. 

Activity Part 1: Choose a topic from that impacts current social, political, ecological, or global systems outside of your major.

Activity Part 2: You may download the PowerPoint slide or .pdf of the blank Concept Map or create a handwritten or digital concept map answering the questions:  what? when? where? who? why? how? about your topic as shown in the slide show above. Begin with Wikipedia to do a general search of your topic. Wikipedia is a great place to begin this activity as it will direct you to related information including events, people, creative works, and other phenomenon. As you fill out your concept map you may connect people, events, etc. to being to consider how you will narrow your topic. You may want to connect ideas by making using different colors, shapes, or even drawings to help you explore the information you discover through your search. 

Activity Part 3: As you are creating your concept map, you may visit several different Wikipedia pages, you may use these to help narrow down your topic as well. Make a note on your concept map of which pages you have visited. See the concept map in the slide show above and search for the star next to words, names, or phrases, these indicate other pages visited. 

Activity Part 4: Once you have completed the concept map, download it as a .pdf, scan it as a .pdf, or take a photo in .jpeg, so it can be uploaded into the form below. Make sure the picture is of a quality that it can easily be read and displayed digitally in the case you want to use it as an image on your deliverable.