Problem and solution essays are quite self-explanatory. As the name suggests, the objective is to find a problem in the world and offer solutions. This is not quite solving a math problem or any objective problem with one answer. Instead, problem and solution essays should try to address some social, ethical, or optimization issue for which different goals might be considered the most important, and there are a plurality of solutions proposed. This allows you to argue for the best one. This is a very practical type of essay, and if you are assigned such an essay, you might find it hard to select a good topic.
The first thing you are going to need to do is find a problem. Now, if you are political at all there should be things you care about in society. Perhaps you are upset with the erosion of values that is occurring all over the world, or you dislike the pervasive patriarchy or rape culture that is present in many patriarchal societies. A problem could also be local, such as people arguing over a dog park or something similar. The point is that this should be a problem that you care about, because you need to write an essay on it. You might even find a decent solution and change the world.
Now, at this point you have identified your problem. However, for your total topic, you are going to need a solution. Now, Problem and Solution essays are unique in the fact that they do not actually allow you to have a topic until after you research. It is academically irresponsible to begin writing a solution when you have not even started to understand the problem you proposed. Therefore, the first thing, before completely choosing your topic, is to do your first round of research. This will help you understand exactly what problems need to be solved.
At this point, you should be able to start to propose valid solutions. Do not just pick one, of course. This must be done in an organized manner. Brainstorm all solutions possible, or solutions that you have come across during your research. Here you must use your judgment, because not all solutions are considered equal. Figure out what exactly is in the problem that bothers you, so you can focus your solution to maximize the particular problem you are focusing on and to solve it to your satisfaction. From here you have a topic, and can do further research.
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