This unit covers issues that affect the world today, such as human rights, secularization vs. religion in the modern state, the rise of terrorism, and the Middle East conflict.
Contemporary Issues unit contains 7 learning experiences.
Learning Experiences (Lessons) in Contemporary Issues Each learning experience takes about 45 minutes to teach in the device-enabled classroom.
Human Rights Abuses
Students first watch a short video and then as a class list examples of human rights. Then they define human rights and examine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next they focus on the articles of the declaration and give examples of violations for each one. Then they examine minority rights and explain why the U.N. passed a second declaration specifically addressing minority rights. Finally they analyze the Internet as a tool of freedom or authoritarianism.
Human Rights Leaders Around the World
Students first analyze a statement made by Malala Yousafzai. Next they read an article introducing some key human rights advocates. Then they choose an individual, develop a guiding question, and write a case study about the person.
Modern Human Migration
Students generate a classwide list of examples of factors leading to migration. Then they watch a series of short videos about how climate change is affecting different countries around the world, and they summarize the impact of climate change on migration. Next they use a migration database to examine an indicator and geographic region of their own choice. Finally they read the personal stories of immigrants and write a letter welcoming one of them.
Secularization vs. Religion in the Modern State
Students predict the principles for a separation between church and state. Then they do a high-level review of the changing role of religion in the region of modern Turkey—the Byzantine Empire and Christianity, the Ottoman Empire and Islam, Atatürk and secularization—and they take a stand on the role of the Hagia Sophia. Next they learn about the Islamic Revolution in Iran and discuss the unintended consequences. Finally they research the role of religion in a given country.
The Growth of Terrorism
Students create a word cloud of their associations with the word terrorism. Then they review different definitions of terrorism and create a chart of three characteristics. Next they learn about different categories of terrorism. Then they analyze the motivations behind extremist Islamic terrorism. Finally they create an infographic about a relatively new phenomenon—cyberterrorism.
The Middle East: Background of the Conflict
Students watch an introductory video and guess how large the state of Israel is by comparing it to a U.S. state. Then they watch another video about the British mandate period. Next they study a series of maps of proposed partitions and observe the problems of dividing the territory between two nations. Finally they learn about the Palestinian refugees displaced since 1948.
The Middle East: Ongoing Conflict
Students name some of the members of the League of Arab States. Then they watch a video about the early years of the state of Israel, examine a timeline, and summarize UN Resolution 242. Next they watch a final video and weigh how cooperation between Israel and Palestine—while difficult for both sides to achieve—might lead to normalized relations between them. Finally they learn about Arab countries that have signed agreements with Israel, and they write a letter from an imaginary teen expressing dreams for the future.