I teach a writing course designed to prepare international students for graduate school, mostly social science majors. The students have no experience writing academic papers. I have found that lists of sample TOEFL and GRE writing topics, such as this list of sample writing topics found at ETS, serve as good essay topics for these students so that they can practice organizing their ideas in writing. These topics are: (1) simple; (2) can be addressed by students from any major or culture; (3) and can be supported by the students' opinions, not research.
Next term, the course will focus on introducing research methods. Were can I find topics that are: (1) similarly simple; (2) can be handled by students from any major; but that (3) will require students to rely on academic journals for support? I need students to practice gathering information, evaluating the credibility of sources, and assembling their ideas and evidence without getting bogged down in the complexity of the subject.