Learning Activity #1
Hot Business Topics
For our first class discussion, let’s start with some hot business topics, items that you might have recently seen or heard about in the news media that tie into our Week 1 readings. The purpose of our discussion is:
- To provide you with your first structured opportunity to communicate and interact with your fellow students and with me.
- To enable you to practice critical thinking skills as you consider various points of view and the bases upon which those views were developed.
- To help you hone your skills in articulating your viewpoint and in responding constructively to the viewpoints of others.
- To provide you with up-to-date information, perhaps fresh opinions about controversial issues and current events related to the world of business and management.
- To practice formatting citations based on APA, 6th edition standards. (This first week I will give you feedback on your citations, and if your citations aren’t correct, there will be no point penalty.)
Here’s how our discussion will work.
- Pick one topic area below that sparks your interest. Go to the Web or UMUC’s online library to learn more details about the topic. (Critical thinking requires using reliable sources for your data. You can find suggested Websites in our course Webliography under Course Resources under the Content area of our course, and you can reach the UMUC library through the Resources link at the top of our classroom.)
Hot Business Topics
The Housing Market
We are seeing changes in the housing market now. Mortgage rates continue at a low level, and home owners in some areas are continuing to receive multiple offers on their homes. What do you envision for the housing market in 2014? Will the current pattern of housing supply and demand continue, or is there reason to think it will change? What can you find on the Web or in the library to support your position?
Some think Wal-Mart is the best thing to come to town since sliced bread. Others accuse it of potentially ruining the neighborhood and devastating local businesses through monopolistic practices. What do you think? What are some facts that back up your feelings?
Electric cars are making their entrance…the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla’s Model S, and the list is growing. Are we heading for a significant change in our vehicles, or will electric cars continue to take a back seat to our gas-powered automobiles? What can you find on the Net or in the library to make your case?
What’s up with Wall Street? Last year ended with a bang, with the DOW Industrial Average posting the highest gains in over 10 years. Is this a trend that will continue in 2014, or do you think it’s an investment bubble? What does your research say that backs up your opinion?
Natural Gas as a Player in our Energy Future
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently stated that natural gas development has a significant role to play in our country’s quest to free itself from oil dependency. On the other hand, extracting natural gas from the earth by means of “fracking” (hydraulic pumping of water, sand, and chemicals to enable the gas to flow into pipes) is controversial. Where do you stand on the issues? What can you find on the Web or in the library to support your view?
Our Mixed Market Economy
The U.S. economy relies on both private enterprise and government to produce and deliver its products and services. Do you think we have the right balance of government intervention? Is the government’s role too little, too big, or just right, in your opinion? (Note: If you choose this topic, stay away from sources with a political axe to grind; use non-partisan data to back up your argument.)
It’s Your Turn!
If none of these topics got your juices flowing, come up with your own topic. Just make sure your topic is business-related and that your questions fit the assignment’s purpose, including the requirement for some research and use of critical thinking skills. Remember to change the topic title, this time inserting the title of the topic you are adding to our discussion.