Friday – September 27

On Friday, we will be exploring how we can enact positive change in the world with the understanding that problems that impact others around the world can often be connected to our own actions at home.

For the past two days, we have been talking in small groups about five specific cases of human rights abuses occurring around the world: child labor/mining in Tanzania, the forced relocation of Tibetans in China, land grabbing in Mozambique, sweatshops in Bangladesh, and enforced disappearances in Mexico.  Today, we will continue connecting these seemingly “foreign” issues to our own lives.  We will do this by creating a list of items that we find on ourselves, in the classroom, or at home that connect to one of the issues listed above.  Are any of us wearing a t-shirt made in Bangladesh?  Did we drink soy milk this morning made from soybeans that were harvested on confiscated land in Mozambique?  These questions will lead us to the most important question:  does this make us responsible for taking action to combat the abuses created by these global issues?

If we do assume this responsibility, we need to figure out how we can take action and make others care about these issues.  First, we will brainstorm how we can raise awareness among CHS students about the five issues we have been discussing in small groups.  How do we make a high school student in Charlottesville, Virginia, care about the plight of a child miner in Tanzania or a relocated Tibetan in China?  Omékongo will help us apply the answers to this question to his campaign to stop the use of conflict minerals coming from the Congo.  We will visualize how we can start a “conflict-free” movement in not only CHS but also the greater Charlottesville community.

We want to keep in mind that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of global issues that impact us and others abroad.  This can cause us to shut down and opt to do nothing about these abuses.  We will end the class by discussing how we can overcome this feeling and continue to fight for change.  I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!

Thursday, September 26: Global Issues, Connected

Today (see thursday lesson plan),  we will connect the global issues we learned about yesterday – child labor/mining in Tanzania, forced relocation of Tibetans in China, land grabs in Mozambique, sweatshops in Bangladesh, and enforced disappearances in Mexico – to other issues in places in different times and places.

We will begin by reviewing yesterday’s activity. In order to remind ourselves of all the issues we discussed yesterday, everyone will fill out a worksheet to get us thinking about the root causes of the issues.

Then, we will use our tablets to find information about our topics in another time and place. Child labor is not unique to Tanzania, and sweatshops exist in places other than Bangladesh. Discover where and when else these issues occurred. Are they a problem closer to home, in the United States, or have they ever been? Use this time to explore – find out what is out there, and see what surprises you!

As we gather information, we will record our finds in Venn diagrams in our journal and share with our classmates. Then, we will use the graphic organizer on the back of the first worksheet to further our understanding of the connections between these different issues.

To wrap up, we will hold a class discussion about the different issues in the different places, how they all connect, and how they relate to us, sitting in this classroom.

Wednesday, September 25th: Global Citizenship & Intersectionality

In this lesson, we will focus on global citizenship — global issues, the countries in which these global issues take place, our role and the intersectionalities between said aspects of global citizenship. The day will start out with a quick wrap-up of Monday’s lesson, which focused on poverty, as a multi-level human rights issue. Students will finish up the charts they started, which analyzed poverty at the local, state and global levels.

For this lesson, we have a special treat for the students, as our guest, Omekongo Dibinga, will share of his work and perform a few spoken word pieces. In addition, he will talk about a current human rights issue in the Congo, his homeland, which is linked to cell phone usage here in the States. This will allow students to visualize human rights in a “closer-to-home” context, instead of being limited to discourse. This will serve as a great segway to the main activity for the day.

For the bulk of the class today, students will zero-in one 5 main human rights issues/ countries:

child labor/ mining in Tanzania

forced relocation of Tibetans in China

land grabs in Mozambique

sweatshops in Bangladesh  (an additional link about a particular incident involving a Bangladeshi sweatshop here)

enforced disappearances in Mexico

Sari sweatshop outside of DhakaSweatshop in Bangladesh (

Students will be put in groups and assigned a country. They will be given material about these countries/ human rights issues (please see the links above) and will analyze the issue at hand, in relation to global citizenship. They will come up with a presentation of the issue and will work together to make a visual representation of it (using poster board, markers, etc.). Groups will explore what the problem is, why it’s a problem, who is affected and other relevant inquiries. Discussion will follow, making connections between issues, countries, cultures and other societal factors.

At the end of the class, students will reflect about global citizenship in their personal lives. They will attempt to answer the following: How am I a global citizen? How can I be a better global citizen?

 For purposes of this lesson, we refer to global citizenship in the context of the Open Democracy definition (see link), and more specifically this excerpt:

“Those who see ourselves as global citizens are not abandoning
other identities; such as allegiances to our countries, ethnicities,
and political beliefs. These traditional identities give meaning to
our lives and will continue to help shape who we are. However,
as a result of living in a globalized world, we find we have an
added layer of responsibility. We have concern and a share of
responsibility for what is happening to the planet as a whole, and
we are members of a world-wide community of people who share
this concern.”

For a glimpse of the life of a Tanzanian child miner, click here to watch a video, exposing the struggles and the dangers child miners face.

Monday Sept. 23– National vs. Global Citizenship

Today we are going to look at different types of citizenship, focusing on national versus global citizenship. Let’s start with a definition:

Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state or an association of states. It is normally synonymous with the term nationality although the latter term may also refer to ethnic connotations. Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life.

In today’s  lesson plan HumanRightsandCitizenship we will start by taking a 15min survey.

We will then watch this short clip on national citizenship:

After watching this video all students will take a survey on national citizenship in order to explore what exactly it means. For anyone who cannot fill out the Google form, the Worksheet can be downloaded as a Word doc. After filling out the survey students will discuss their answers in small groups.

Next students will read the article Whats a World Passport? by Daniel Engber. This article introduces the concept of a world passport, but also reveals some of the problems associated with it. When done reading, students will fill out another survey. After filling out this survey students will discuss their thoughts on the two different types of citizenship and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Finally each group will share their one favorite thing that they have discussed with the whole class so that all the groups can get a sense of what the class as a whole feels about the topic.

Friday, September 20: “International” Problems and the UN

Today we will be considering the ways in which particular problems transcend national boundaries and the ways in which national interests prevent the UN from responding to those problems. In no other international problem or challenge is this tension reflected more than the occurrence of genocide. Students will watch very brief video on the Rwandan genocide:

Students will then read an article by Raphael Lemkin, the polish scholar who coined the term “genocide” and consider the Covenant on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (and the limits and reaches of the Covenant).

Raphael Lemkin–Genocide Questions

EDLF 5500 Genocide; Lemkin

Lemkin Lesson Plan

Thursday, September 19: What are the different types of Rights?

Earlier this week we have learned the history of the United Nations and why the world felt it was so important to create a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” However, a declaration does not guarantee anything, so the United Nations created treaties or covenants. These treaties would then become actual law in the countries that ratified them. There was a small problem though. The democratic western countries strongly supported civil and political rights like the right to vote, own property, and to a fair trial. The authoritarian countries of the east were not as comfortable with civil and political rights so they focused more on social, economic, and cultural rights. Thus, two separate covenants were created.

Today in class we will be discussing the differences between the two covenants and the many problems, consequences, and difficulties that arise.

  • We will start by splitting into groups and writing down what the group thinks are the five most important rights that every person should have.
  • We will then watch videos describing the two covenants to understand the situation and differences. After we watch, we will split into groups to discuss the following questions ( Video 1 and Video 2)
  1. Look at your five rights that you said were the most important. Which type of right would each of them be- Civil, Political, Social, Economic, or Cultural right? Do the rights that you specified as most important line up with the UN’s?
  2. Why do you think that Western countries felt that it was so important to specify our political and civil rights, while Eastern countries wanted more ESC rights?
  3. Which type of rights do you feel are the most important?
  4. What is the best way to secure and protect these rights? Is the UN the solution?
  5. Do you think these rights are really universal? Can rights be different in different countries?
  6. Is protecting these rights for every single citizen in the world attainable?

For some additional reading or insight:

-Recent articles about Human Rights around the world!

Wed. September 18, 2013: Trading Rights

Wednesday’s activity helps students to consider the indivisibility of rights by dividing rights and bartering for them. All students will review the 30 articles of the UDHR. Students will then be split into 3 groups and each group will be given 10 of the Articles. They will have to work within their group to discuss which rights they still need/want and which they are willing to bargain/trade for with the other two groups. Two delegates from each group will negotiate with the other groups to facilitate the trade process. By the end of the activity (and debrief), students will have considered the ways in which some rights might stand alone, if some rights more fundamental than others, and why and how some rights were added later or changed over time.

For additional HR activity resources:

Monday, September 16, 2013: History of the United Nations

UN Flag This week we will be exploring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Before jumping into Human Rights Issues, we will earn about the history of the United Nations and how this organization was formed.  We will start out lesson with a preview of what we know about the UN and its member states in our History of UN Do Now activity.  Monday’s lesson plan History of UN Lesson Plan_9_16_13 )includes three short vides about the formation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After each, video, we will discuss a few guiding questions  in small groups. Questions can be found here: History of UN and Human Rights Videos and Discussion Questions.

The videos we will watch are:

1. The United Nations: History & Functions

2. Brief History of Human Rights

3. The Universal Declaration of Human Right

We will think about why there was a need for the United Nations and how the Human Rights declared by the UN are protected (or not) in our own communities and globally.

Related Sites:

List of Member States of the United Nations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Plain Language Version

Friday, September 13 – Moving Beyond PC and “Colorblind” Approaches

ImageToday, we’re going to build on the ideas of ascribed and personal identity that we’ve explored this week.  As we talked about yesterday, the idea of race is ultimately a social construct.  This social construct often influences how people perceive and prejudge us – our ascribed identity.  Worse yet, it can lead to acts of extreme prejudice and injustice like the profiling experienced by Adama and Gurwinder in Patriot Acts.  With this in mind, it’s easy to see why people are sometimes uncomfortable talking explicitly about race, leading to a “colorblind” approach to viewing society.

In today’s Moving Beyond PC lesson plan, we will start by discussing the difference between “colorblind” and “multicultural” discussions of society using the example of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.    When King famously said,Image “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” was he pointing toward a society where differences are never discussed, or one where differences are embraced?  How do we combat racism, inequality, and prejudice without discussing race (or class, for that matter)?

To explore thesestop-and-frisk-sfSpan and other questions, I’ve created an Anticipation Guide, which we will use in class to explore our opinions at the beginning and end of class.  After completing the “before reading” column of the Anticipation Guide, we will focus on how these questions played out in the news surrounding a controversial topic: New York City’s Stop and Frisk policy.  As a class, we’ll watch the PBS News Hour segment introducing this topic.  If time allows, we can also watch a very moving short documentary on the NYTimes about Stop-and Frisk.

Then, in small groups, we’ll read articles representing two of the many sides of the Stop-and-Frisk debate: two teens targeted by “stop-and-frisk” the policy (Nicholas Peart and Linda Sankat) and Mayor Bloomberg‘s response to allegations of racial profiling.  ImageAs we investigate these perspectives as a group, we’ll discuss how they support or go against our original opinions on the Anticipation Guide.  Finally, we’ll mark whether our opinions have changed in the “After Reading” column as we have a whole-class discussion on whether it’s better to use a “colorblind” or “multicultural” approach as we discuss and fight against injustice.  We’ll also talk briefly about how the “Stop and Frisk” topic relates to broader discussions of human rights.Image

I’ve been thinking about the “colorblind” question a lot as I reflect on how we as students, educators, and community members can work together to combat prejudice and injustice, especially in the week following the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.    This is a complex issue, but I feel that it is a vital one to address as we work toward building a more just and equitable society – from CHS to Charlottesville and beyond.  Feedback and reflections would be greatly appreciated as we revise this lesson for the future!

Thursday, September 12 — Cultural Norms.

As a way to follow-up on the idea of ascribed identity and explore a little more about what this means for us, today we will talk about cultural norms with a lesson plan inspired by the novel Americanah. This novel brought home to me the idea that my cultural identity really influences the types of things I take for granted and how strange these things might seem to someone with a different cultural identity, so I decided to build this lesson plan around that idea of cultural norms. On June 27, 2013, interviewer Terry Gross hosted Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her NPR show Fresh Air. Adichie is a novelist who grew up in Nigeria before moving to America to attend college. Her most recent novel is called Americanah, and in the interview she reads an excerpt  based on events from her own life. We will listen to the first 12 minutes or so of this interview, found here, then we will talk about how people learn “norms” — acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for or society. (Here is a link to the transcript, in case you want to follow along.) These vary widely depending on cultural traditions and cultural identities and history. As a way to explore this idea further, students will meet in groups and create a list (using pictures or words) of norms for a particular place. Then the group will come back together, check out each others’ work, and discuss whether we all agree with the norms represented, or if there are different norms even within this classroom.

The take-away for today is to remember that norms are very specific to a time, place, and society or group.  As Adichie says, “Race is a social construct.” The implications of that statement can be quite broad, so I’m really interested to see what comes out in this conversation and to see what comments you have about this idea.