Current Issues

Classroom activities to engage students in learning about and discussing issues in the news

February 2, 2020

The fires raging across Australia in recent months have led to shocking devastation. Students discuss the scope of the disaster and its relationship to climate change; share their feelings about it; and consider responses, from supporting relief efforts to climate activism.

January 20, 2020

Should two small, disproportionately white and rural states be the first two primary states? Students explore the debate, and the pros and cons of the Iowa caucus process.

January 18, 2020

The U.S. has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents. In this lesson, students learn about the various forms that anti-Semitism takes, its history, and current examples.

January 5, 2020

Does "freedom of speech" extend to hate speech? Is countering hate a form of free speech? Students explore current controversies over free speech rights, including at schools and colleges.

December 27, 2019

Do big donors have too much influence in elections? Does the surge of small donors in the 2020 presidential election change the equation? Students explore the changing role of money in politics.

December 16, 2019

Did the Civil Rights Movement only involve the South? Was it the product of a few great leaders? In this lesson, students deepen their understanding of the civil rights movement, explore some mythologies surrounding it, and consider how sometimes "history" distorts the truth.   

December 13, 2019

The 2020 election campaign has opened up a debate about whether public programs should be offered to everyone or only to low-income families. In this lesson, students consider arguments about universal versus means-tested public college and Pre-K.

December 1, 2019

When is it right to share information about what we see as wrongdoing by others - and when is it meddling in someone else’s business? How do our morals and ideals affect our decisions to share information? Students consider these questions through this circle on social responsibility. 

November 19, 2019

Students examine the vaping health crisis, how e-cigarettes work, the role of Juul, marketing to teens, and the government's role in controlling the use of vapes.

November 11, 2019

Public attitudes about crime and punishment have shifted over the past decade, including among politicians from both parties. In this lesson, students examine the move away from "tough on crime" approaches and consider new proposals for criminal justice reform that are in the spotlight during the...