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Posts Tagged ‘Leading Issues’

First Meeting of the UN General Assembly: January 10, 1946

“The whole basis of the United Nations is the right of all nations–
great or small–to have weight, to have a vote, to be attended to…”

–US Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)

Representatives of 26 Allied nations fighting against the Axis Powers meet
in Washington, D.C. to sign the Declaration by United Nations, January 1, 1942.
via Library of Congress [public domain]

 

On this date in 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations met at Central Hall Westminster in London. Delegations from 51 nations were present. The General Assembly adopted its first resolution on January 24 of that year, which called for the “control of atomic energy to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes” and “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. ” It is interesting that many of the issues considered in the first meeting are still relevant today. Among them were food security, refugees, peacekeeping and nuclear weapons. View a collection of photos from the first meeting of the UN General Assembly here.

The Charter of the United Nations outlines the functions of the General Assembly, which are to discuss, debate, and make recommendations on subjects pertaining to international peace and security, including development, disarmament, human rights, international law, and the peaceful arbitration of disputes between nations.

The General Assembly is the main decision-making and representative assembly in the UN and is responsible for upholding the principles of the UN through its policies and recommendations. It is the only one of the six bodies in the UN where all member states have equal representation: one nation, one vote. Led by a president elected from the member states, it meets from September to December each year, and in special sessions as needed. From its 51 original members, the UN has grown to include 193 member states in 2018, each with a vote in the General Assembly. Today’s United Nations is actively involved in a wide range of areas, which include peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.

Flags at United Nations by Naoki Nakashima from New York, USA
via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Notable Actions

Three of the General Assembly’s most notable actions are listed below:

1948: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document contains thirty articles that outline the global standards for human rights, and includes the basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled.

1950: ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution. The United States initiated the landmark measure that states in the event that the Security Council cannot maintain international peace, a matter can be taken up by the General Assembly.

2000: Millennium Declaration. World leaders came together to commit to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty, by setting eight targets to be achieved by 2015. They have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Screen Cap from SIRS Issues Researcher United Nations Leading Issue

 

SIRS Issues Researcher provides student researchers insight into the United Nations through its Leading Issues feature. Each Leading Issue includes a topic overview, a timeline of key events, statistics, articles that present the global impact of the problem, and primary source documents that foster an understanding of the history, evolution and continuing impact of the United Nations. Related Leading Issues like Diplomacy, Ethnic Relations, Genocide, Globalization, Sovereignty, Universal Human Rights, U.S. Foreign Aid, and others are also covered in-depth.

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Top 10 Leading Issues of 2017

SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues is a go-to source for pro/con, debate, and argument assignments. Over the past year, students gravitated to these top 10 Leading Issues and their Essential Questions of debate.

SIRS® Issues Researcher provides background and current analysis necessary for the research and understanding of 356+ current and pervasive Leading Issues. Analysis and opinions cover the pros, cons, and everything in between on the most researched and debated social issues. To learn more about SIRS Issues Researcher, see our LibGuide. You can also request a trial.

How to Support Inclusion When Teaching Controversial Political Issues

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series examined U.S. teens, politics, and information literacy.


Today’s top political issues are controversial for a reason: they affect our lives. Students are no exception, which is why classroom discussions about controversial political issues risk offending or alienating students, especially those who are marginalized by society. Shielding students from discomfort is tempting, but avoidance goes against the aims of learning about controversial political issues, one of which is political literacy.

But maintaining a safe, welcoming, and accepting learning environment for every student is essential. Fortunately, there are ways to ease some of the negative aspects of teaching controversial political issues. The following strategies, which have been adapted from Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy’s The Political Classroom, will help you support inclusion in the classroom.

Know your students. At the beginning of the semester, get to know your students’ views, political ideology, and personal circumstances by conducting an anonymous survey.

Choose wisely. Based on the survey results, pick political issues that are relevant, ethical, and most likely to facilitate learning.

Time it right. Schedule the least controversial issues first, and then build up to more controversial issues as the semester progresses. Evidence suggests that students become more respectful of one another once they know their classmates. Students also develop stronger civil-discourse skills over time.

Do your research. Before teaching an issue, research it thoroughly. Being informed gives you confidence and helps you keep class discussions relevant and free of false claims.

Ensure civility. During class discussions, enact and enforce the norms of civil discourse. Most students are unfamiliar with how to engage in civil debates, especially given today’s political climate. Your guidance is essential.

Get feedback. At the end of the semester, get feedback from students by conducting another anonymous survey. Ask students about what they learned and their overall experience, including whether they felt uncomfortable, offended, or alienated. Learn from the feedback, adjust accordingly, and repeat the process next semester.

Of course, there are no perfect solutions. No matter what you do, some students may become offended or alienated during discussions involving controversial political issues. But by following the strategies outlined above, you will help make your classroom more inclusive for all students.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Leading Issues in the News: Protests in Sports

Washington Redskins Kneel During the National Anthem

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the 2016 NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a firestorm of controversy by sitting down during the national anthem. He explained his reason for sitting as follows, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” In the 49ers final preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem instead of sitting as a way to show more respect to military members while still protesting the anthem. Throughout the 2016 season, several NFL players joined Kaepernick in “taking a knee” during the anthem.

The protests became more widespread at the start of the 2017 season after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. In the games following Trump’s comments, more than 200 players kneeled while other teams linked arms in solidarity.

The protests are not confined to just the NFL. Soccer players and WNBA players have protested by kneeling or by staying in the locker room during the national anthem. Major league baseball player Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics knelt during the anthem, while NHL player J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning raised his fist while standing on the bench during the national anthem.

Although the protests have generated controversy, they have also started conversations over racial discrimination, police brutality and freedom of expression.

This is not the first time athletes have used the world of sports to make a stand over social issues.

Protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. (AP Photo) (Credit: Public Domain)

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a fist while the national anthem played during their medal ceremony. The gesture was viewed as a “Black Power” salute and became front page news around the globe. The athletes stated they were there to express African-American strength and unity, protest black poverty, and remember victims of lynching.

On October 17, 1968, the International Olympic Committee convened and determined that Smith and Carlos were to be stripped of their medals for violating the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.

Forty-nine years later, that moment at the Olympics continues to reverberate through sports.

Learn more about the current national anthem protests as well as the historical context by visiting SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary. Not a customer? Free trials are available.

Recent Supreme Court Decisions Offer Primary Sources on Leading Issues

Educators, do you and your students need primary source materials on current controversial social issues? Look no further than SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature. SIRS editors hand-select Supreme Court decisions based on their relevance to student research and support of SIRS Leading Issues. Users can access Supreme Court cases via the Supreme Court feature in the Government Reporter product, or in the Advanced Search feature in SIRS Knowledge Source by choosing the Primary Sources tab in article results (All available primary sources will appear in the search results).

SIRS Knowledge Source Advanced Search Screenshot via SIRS Issues Researcher

The Court’s most recent term, which concluded the last week of June, saw quite a few compromise decisions since the Court operated without a ninth justice for most of the term. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, the Court was left with only eight justices for 14 months while the White House and Congress battled over its membership. But in April, President Donald Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed and joined the Court to create a conservative majority.

Current Supreme Court Justices. Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Back row: Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. (Credit: Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States) [public domain]

While there were not a lot of high-profile cases, the Court nevertheless handed down some important decisions involving freedom of religion, gay rights, capital punishment, treatment of prisoners, property rights, free speech, child protection laws and election law. Below we highlight some of the decisions from this term, and their relevance to SIRS Leading Issues topics.

* Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools (Feb. 22, 2017): The Court ruled in a case involving the use of a service dog by a child with cerebral palsy that a student or their family can sue a school district over a disability issue without exhausting all administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

(Related Leading Issue: Education Policy)

* Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 (March 22, 2017): The Court decided that schools can’t settle for minimal academic progress by students with disabilities.

(Related Leading Issues: Autism, Education Policy)

* Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (March 22, 2017): The Court determined that designs on cheerleading uniforms can be protected by copyright law.

(Related Leading Issues: Cheerleading, Copyright Infringement, Sports)

* Moore v. Texas (March 28, 2017): The Court ruled that the outdated medical standards used by the state of Texas to determine that a convicted murderer was not intellectually disabled and thus eligible for execution violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as Supreme Court precedent.

(Related Leading Issues: Capital Punishment, Treatment of Prisoners, Mental Health)

* Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman (March 29, 2017) The Court decided that the New York General Business Law was not unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech)

* Cooper v. Harris (May 22, 2017): The Court determined that North Carolina’s new congressional districting plan constituted an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

(Related Leading Issues: Racial Discrimination, Elections, Government Ethics)

* Sessions v. Morales-Santana (June 12, 2017): The Court determined that disparate citizenship rules for children of unwed mothers and fathers violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

(Related Leading Issues: Illegal Immigration, Immigration)

* Matal v. Tam (June 19, 2017): The Court ruled that the government can’t reject trademarks that might be disparaging or offensive to some people.

(Related Leading Issues: Controversial Mascots, Ethnic Relations, Freedom of Speech)

* McWilliams v. Dunn (June 19, 2017): The Court decided that an indigent defendant whose competence is a significant issue at trial is entitled to a psychiatric expert, who is independent of the prosecution.

(Related Leading Issues: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty/Capital Punishment, Mental Health)

* Packingham v. North Carolina (June 19, 2017) The Court ruled that the North Carolina law prohibiting registered sex offenders from accessing various websites, where minors are known to be active and have accounts, regardless of whether or not the sex offender directly interacted with a minor, violates the First Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech, Social media, Child protection laws, Convicted felons)

* Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer (June 26, 2017) The Court decided that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Religion, Church and State) 

* Pavan v. Smith (June 26, 2017) The Court ruled that an Arkansas statute that precludes both names of a same-sex married couple from being listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate is an unconstitutional discrimination, considering the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage.

(Related Leading Issues: Gay Liberation Movement, Same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, Human Reproductive Technology) 

U.S. Supreme Court Conference Room via U.S. Supreme Court [public domain]

Each case in SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature includes a full-text PDF version of the opinion, as well as a concise and easy-to-understand summary explaining the question before the Court and its decision. Cases can be browsed by subject heading, topic, by Constitutional Article and Amendment, or alphabetically. You can also find biographical information on current and past justices, a reference article that explains the role of the Supreme Court and its history, a full-text version of the U.S. Constitution with amendments and historical notes, a list of supplementary references for students and educators, and more.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming term for 2017-2018 began on October 2, and the justices have already agreed to hear 33 cases. These cases involve immigration (President Trump’s controversial travel ban); more gay rights issues (a showdown between religious freedom and state anti-discrimination laws); government surveillance (the use of cell phone location records by police without a warrant); election law (a state’s attempt to clean up its voter rolls, and another election redistricting case); and gambling (sports betting at casinos and racetracks); among others.

Stay tuned for decisions in these important cases, and keep SIRS Knowledge Source in mind when you need easy access to primary source material for lesson plans or student research.

Don’t have SIRS Knowledge Source at your school or library? Free trials are available.

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Fact Sheet: U.S. Teens, Politics, and Information Literacy

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series discussed how educators can choose controversial political issues ethically.

In December 2016, the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled 13- to 17-year-old U.S. teenagers on politics and government, civic engagement, and information literacy. Here is an overview of the results:

Politics and government. Overall, teenagers have a pessimistic view of U.S. politics and government. About 8 in 10 believe the nation is divided on important values. Many teenagers find little commonality with those who are different from them, such as people who live in other geographical areas and people in other political parties. Additionally, a majority of teenagers have negative views on the system and functioning of government, including how political leaders are chosen and the ability of government to solve problems. Despite teenagers’ pessimistic views, over half believe that the American dream still exists, and most have positive or neutral views on the future of the country.

Civic engagement. Teenagers have a high level of civic engagement. In fact, almost 9 in 10 teenagers have taken part in at least one civic activity, the most popular being volunteering and raising money for a cause. Fewer teenagers are involved politically, perhaps unsurprisingly given their age and their views on politics and government. A majority have never expressed their political beliefs online, and a whopping 88 percent have never participated in a protest, march, or demonstration (though this may have changed some given the high number of protests, marches, and demonstrations in recent months).

Information literacy. A majority of teenagers reported learning about information literacy skills in school, but a sizable number of teenagers said they have not. One-third had never discussed how to evaluate the trustworthiness of online content. Some 40 percent never discussed the value of evaluating evidence used to support opinions. And 42 percent never discussed how to find varying social and political viewpoints online.

There are some lessons to be learned from this poll. First, civic engagement is high among teenagers, but this fails to translate into political participation. Educators should focus on teaching students how they can be a part of the political system and effect change. Second, teenagers believe that they have little in common with those who are different from them. Educators can help break down barriers and close this empathy gap by exposing students to different people, ideas, and viewpoints. And third, too few students are learning the necessary information literacy skills, especially as they relate to cyberspace. With the spread of fake news, educators should prioritize strengthening information literacy skills for the digital age.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

6 Reasons Why Editorial Cartoons Are an Essential Teaching Tool

“One strong editorial cartoon is worth a hundred solemn editorials.”
—William Zinsser, On Writing Well

daily-paper-464015_1920

CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

My seventh-grade social studies teacher gave extra credit to students who brought in editorial cartoons for class discussions. Luckily for me, stacks of newspapers were common in my house. My father was a printing-press operator and a newspaper addict. We got three newspapers daily and sometimes more when my father couldn’t resist a newsstand. So I got a lot of extra credit that year.

Editorial cartoons are all that I remember from that class. My newspaper monopoly aside, I remember being captivated by grown-up cartoons and wanted to understand them, which is how I became interested in current events and issues. I still get excited when I see editorial cartoons. An astute cartoon is an oasis in a wit-starved world.

To accompany our Editorial Cartoons Curriculum Guide, here are six reasons why editorial cartoons are an enduring curriculum essential.

Why do you think editorial cartoons are an essential teaching tool?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter #ProQuest or in the comments below.

ProQuest editors are continually adding editorial cartoons to ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Don’t have it? Request a trial.

Let’s Debate…Federal Funding of the Arts

Federal funding of the arts–which encompasses visual art, performing arts, cultural events and programming, public television, public radio, and more–has been a politically debated issue for decades. Want to learn more about both sides? Check out the infographic below. Then explore more by visiting SIRS Researcher‘s new Leading Issue Public Funding of the Arts.

 

SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Just in Time for Back-to-School: 9 New Leading Issues from SIRS Issues Researcher

The pro-con format of our Leading Issues helps students pick a topic and understand its context with overviews, essential questions, statistics, global perspectives, viewpoints, supporting arguments, and critical thinking prompts. The editors at ProQuest were busy this summer selecting articles and graphics, creating and updating timelines, and adding new Leading Issues to ensure your students and patrons have the most up-to-date and relevant content on current controversial issues.

Introduce your student researchers to these engaging new Leading Issues:

The Arts: New main category (Sub-issues: Art and Cultural Repatriation, Arts Censorship, Banned Books, Music Lyrics, Popular Culture, Public Funding of the Arts, Violence in Mass Media)

Abortion Funding: Are U.S. policies like the Mexico City Policy, which restrict federal funding to global health organizations that provide abortions or abortion information, a good idea?

Driverless Vehicles: Do the benefits of driverless vehicles outweigh the risks?

Net Neutrality: Are net-neutrality rules necessary?

Prescription Drug Prices: Should the government take steps to lower prescription drug prices?

Public Funding of the Arts: Should the government allocate federal funds in support of the arts and art programs?

Sharing Economy: Should the sharing economy be regulated?

Transgender Children: Should children be allowed to transition to the gender they identify with?

U.S.-Mexico Border Wall: Should the U.S. build a wall along the border with Mexico?

Driverless Vehicles Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

The following Leading Issues have also been updated, and new Essential Questions added in some cases, to reflect the current focus of the controversy:

Child Care, Digital Media, Dietary Supplements, Epidemics, Human Smuggling, Indigenous Peoples, Pipelines, Poverty, International (main issue), Privacy and the Press, Refugees, Reporters and Shield Laws, School Choice, Social Media, and Women in the Military.

 

Which Leading Issues topics are most popular with your students? Are there any topics you would like to have added? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us with #ProQuest.

ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to think critically about current issues. Free trials are available.

SIRS Discoverer: Pro/Con Leading Issues

It is important for elementary and middle school students to develop critical thinking and research skills. Often students are tasked with a research project on a controversial or difficult topic. To fulfill this need, SIRS Discoverer offers a Pro/Con Leading Issues feature that will help young researchers navigate through 60 debated social issues. Each topic lists several viewpoint articles where students can click through to full-text content. These articles provide context that help kids understand the viewpoints on these issues. In addition to articles, editorially-selected photos and political cartoons provide a visual perspective. Since editors create and maintain the topics, educators can be confident that the content will be reliable.

SIRS Discoverer Pro/Con Leading Issues

Each issue contains:

Topic Overview
Terms to Know
Essential Question
More Viewpoints
Visual Literacy
Critical Thinking Questions

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, Pro/Con Leading Issues is also one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product. We have heard from several media specialists and librarians that when a student is undecided on a subject to research, browsing through the topics often sparks an idea.

We realize the value of keeping the topics updated and so we have added 5 new topics to our Pro/Con Leading Issues feature at the start of the new school year:

Electoral College
Gender Identity
Health Care
Refugees
Vaccines

Educators, do your students use the Pro/Con Leading Issues feature?
Tweet #ProQuest #SIRSDiscoverer

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