Purposeful Summary

Purposeful Summary Non-Portfolio Task

A “purposeful summary” doesn’t bother to recount the entire subject matter of an article. It may in fact share very little of the content of the original source. It does, however, remain true to the original, or to a credible version of the original.

It makes fair use of as much or as little of the original material as the new author needs to pursue her own purpose. A propaganda film might glorify an unjust war, while your purposeful summary of that film might help you prove that the war was an inhumane enterprise conducted by an aggressor nation.

Illustrations are always superior to explanations. Let’s watch a brief video and produce a brief summary.

Ethics of a Three-Parent Baby

We don’t tell the entire story of the science of mitochondrial DNA. Our interest is in the ethics of the science, not the science itself. So we summarize the portion of the material that contributes to our purpose.

It seems counterintuitive that human life, which everyone knows gets DNA from two parents when male sperm fertilizes a female egg, could ever require, or even make use of, the DNA of three parents. But that’s exactly what is happening.

The UK will soon allow in vitro fertilization of female eggs that include contributions from a second woman’s healthy egg to replace defective mitochondrial DNA in the first woman’s egg. While the amount of DNA is small, it nonetheless permanently alters the DNA of all female children born to the (well we can’t say couple any more!) three parents.

The contribution of healthy mitochondrial DNA to the fertilized egg will prevent birth defects that could result in seizures and decreased muscle formation in the absence of the healthy DNA. As usual, critics worry that this first tiny advance in promoting healthy babies will open the floodgates to every sort of god-playing, frankenstein-creating unscrupulous experimentation imaginable.

Others fret that only the rich will be able to afford healthy babies. In all likelihood, both these scenarios will play out just as they fear.

Now for your Take Home Task.

Non Portfolio Task

  • Read the article, “The Mysterious Vaping Illness That’s ‘Becoming an Epidemic,'” in the New York Times.
  • Summarize it in a very brief essay of about 250 words, like the example above.
  • DO NOT attempt to convey the entire content of the article.
  • USE whatever portion of the article you choose to prove a point of your own.


  1. Publish your work in a new post called Summary—Username.
  2. Post it to two Categories: Summary and your Username.


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