By Katie Joyce
9th Grade Level Lead and Social Studies Teacher
October 26, 2018
This year, the 9th grade social studies class is focusing on global issues. This is a wonderful way for students to gain a sense of their place in the world, and it aligns with Sacred Heart goals, particularly Goal 3: "Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a social awareness which impels to action."
Students began the year learning some basic concepts of foreign policy. For example, why can't we stomp over to another country and demand they change? What might be the consequences of doing so? How can we respect the values of other nations while continuing to uphold the values of our own? How does increased globalization impact the way the U.S. and other countries interact? There are no simple answers to these questions and the students will investigate these topics throughout the year using the United States as a starting point and the United Nations as a lens for global action. In particular, the UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a great way to look at where the world is and the potential stance we could take on numerous global issues.
Our first deep dive into the different ways nations approach hot topics of foreign policy has been the concept of human rights. Case studies about the way various issues, such as child labor and state sovereignty, are treated in different nations shined a big light on these issues for my students. The girls also gave presentations earlier this year about how art can impact social issues – investigating topics as diverse as Black Lives Matter and the Egyptian Choir Project – a project that invites people from all walks of life to put their hopes and concerns, their feelings and thoughts, their jokes and woes into song.
In an act of real world exploration, the girls took a position on U.S. foreign policy on human rights with assigned ideas ranging from "it's the United States responsibility to lead the world to freedom" to "the United States needs to prioritize human rights issues at home before interacting with the world." After hearing about these different perspectives, students wrote about their own views of U.S. foreign policy.
Of course, there is no shortage of topics around foreign policy. Up next, the 9th graders will participate in a model United Nations project, bringing together all they have learned about foreign policy and human rights to investigate the world's options for responding to the situation in North Korea.
As the year progresses, I believe the girls will be more aware of the world they live in and have their eyes opened to how each person has the potential to create change!
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