All workshops can be adjusted to meet the language level of any class, just ask!
1. The Women’s March and the Historic Roles of Women in Activism
This lesson will be structured around the roles available to women presented in these texts and how the women in the works push back against their treatment in society. It will start with an overview of reform movements in the nineteenth century in the U.S., such as abolition, temperance, and suffrage, which were often lead by women. While grounded in the late nineteenth century, the lesson will link these conversations to current issues in women’s rights in the U.S. One of the most stunning recent examples of women leading the way in activism was the Women’s March that was held on January 21, 2017. The March kicked off a season of activism that is still going strong in the U.S. This lesson will ground contemporary U.S. culture in a larger historical sphere and allow students to think critically about the connection between current and past movements.
2. The Fight for $15: Workers’ Rights and Artistic Expression in the U.S.
One of the most prominent movements in the U.S. right now is the Fight for $15, which argues for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour. This workshop looks at the Fight for $15 through the lens of other workers’ movements in U.S. history, such as pushes for child labor laws and shorter work days. One of the aspects of labor movements that can often be overlooked is the artistic representation of the people participating in the movements. We don’t always associate art with the working class and laborers. In this workshop we will look at poems and songs from labor movements to assess how art functions to support and propel labor movements.
3. Higher Education in the U.S.: Choice and Debt
The United States has some of the best colleges and universities in the world. It also has an abundance of choices when it comes to the type and levels of schools—community colleges, colleges, universities, private schools, state schools, religiously affiliated schools, etc. This diversity provides U.S. students with a lot of options; however, a growing problem in the U.S. is the cost of universities and student debt. On the other hand, there is a growing push to make college in some states tuition free—a model that most developed countries have already adopted. Using excerpts from books, such as Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, we will look at the challenges that face college students in the U.S. to determine the risks and rewards of U.S. higher education. In addition to introducing students to what higher education is like in the United States, this workshop also asks us to think about the purpose and function of educational systems.
4. Narratives of America in the 21st Century featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton
This workshop asks the question: what are the risks and rewards of rewriting the past to fit our modern perspectives? We will focus on the musical, Hamilton, which is a Broadway musical about one of the founding fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton tells the story of Hamilton’s life through music that closely echoes the history of rap and hip hop rather than the traditional sounds of Broadway. Hamilton has created a huge stir over the course of its existence both for its unique approach to a Broadway show, and for the fact that the majority of the historical figures featured in the play are performed by people of color. In revising the story of the founding of America to feature people of color, the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, helps to revise the canon of the American dream. We will look at the narratives proposed by Hamilton and discuss the positives and limitations of the idea that we can “write [our] way out.”
5. American Exceptionalism
The idea of America as a city on a hill, as a place for other parts of the world to look up to, is often associated with Ronald Reagan. However, the phrase itself comes from a speech that John Winthrop gave on the ship, the Arbella, to a group of Puritans in Massachusetts Harbor. This sentiment and the ideas about America that have followed it have a long history in this nation. This workshop will probe the history of American exceptionalism to illustrate how the concept has affected not only American’s perceptions of themselves but also of their perceived roles in the world. As it is very different than the concept of nation that many other countries have, this exploration will open up discussions of global citizenship.
6. Black Lives Matter in Historical Context
The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to the shooting death of black men—Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner—in the U.S. by police and civilians. Today, the movement has been heralded as the impetus for anti-violence protests and civil resistance across the U.S. It has also received criticism from a variety of angles—some criticism as extreme as comparing it to a hate group. This workshop seeks to understand the origins of the movement and contextualize it through the history of racial violence and protest in the U.S. To narrow our scope, we will use specific instances from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s to add depth to our understanding of our current political and cultural moment.
7. Is it Real or Fake News?
Fake news has been discussed so much over the last year that it has quickly become shorthand for any information that is not amenable to hear. Is your favorite band breaking up? Is your least favorite relative come for a visit? Well, hopefully those pieces of information are just fake news. But what is fake news exactly? What are its origins? What are the consequences of it and why does it matter? This lesson will look at the proliferation of this term in recent popular culture—in relation to who is using it and why. Along the way we will practice media literacy skills that will help us make sense of all of the information that we come across on a daily basis.