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. Hamilton: Writing as Public Service
The musical, Hamilton, has created an immense stir in American popular culture over the last two years. Hamilton tells the story of founding father, Alexander Hamilton. While Hamilton can be discussed from many angles, to narrow the topic I will highlight the emphasis that Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, has put on writing in Hamilton’s life. In Miranda’s narrative Hamilton writes himself from an island in the Caribbean to the U.S. Treasury office. As the character, Hamilton, says in the song, “Hurricane,” “I will write my way out.” Miranda showcases how Hamilton wrote for the cause of the revolution and his own economic policy. Writing as a public service is also clearly important to Miranda who has used his platform to argue for debt relief for Puerto Rico. This workshop will connect the ways that Hamilton and Miranda use writing to further causes they believe in, and we will ask how we can express our dissent in contemporary culture.
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.