As a possible culminating challenge, students consider the impact of the pursuit of national interest by drafting a charter of a nation's rights and duties that specifies the nature, obligations and limits of a nation's pursuit of its interests. The charter would consider the various stakeholders involved in the pursuit of national interests and the extent to which national interests may negatively impact the rights of various groups or individuals.
Review a nation's obligations to its citizens
Review the most important obligations of a nation to its citizens; e.g., ensure domestic and international security, promote prosperity, provide basic services.
Review dangers of ultranationalism
If students have not completed the activities in The Horrors of Ultranationalism (Critical Challenge), review the dangers of ultranationalism; e.g. conflict and war, abuse of rights of individuals, loss of sovereignty, genocide.
Examine guidelines for peaceful coexistence
Explain to students that countries often develop guidelines to ensure international peace and security. Promoting the legitimate pursuit of national interests and avoiding the dangers of ultranationalistic tendencies are methods that countries employ to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence. As an example, invite students to examine the following principles from Star Trek's Prime Directive.
Star Trek's Prime Directive
As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of superior knowledge, strength or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.
Ask students to work with one or two other students to identify the guidelines in the directive intended to promote intergalactic peace and security. You may wish to ask students to consider various perspectives on the guidelines. For example, Star Fleet personnel, aliens, creators of the directive.
Consider historical agreements and treaties
Assign students to review actual historical efforts to promote peaceful coexistence, for example, the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia (Background Information) or the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations (Background Information). Each of these documents contains guidelines to promote international peace and stability. Invite students to work with one or two partners to identify the guidelines in one of these documents. Arrange for each group to share its findings with the class. Create a master list of the guidelines identified.
Explore threats and safeguards
To extend students' thinking, ask them to consider the greatest threats to domestic and international peace and stability. Invite students to identify these dangers by recalling historical and contemporary examples of the pursuit of national interests and ultranationalism. Encourage students to propose guidelines that might promote peace and stability in the face of these threats. Add any new guidelinesto the previously developed list.
To meet diverse learning needs, consider providing students with one or more examples of threats to domestic and international peace and stability.
Generate criteria for an effective charter
- Provide all students with a copy of another charter. You may want to select one of the treaties written regarding the First Nations peoples in Canada, the charter that guided the formation of the Organization of American States (OAS) or the NATO charter. Lead a discussion on the purpose of a charter. Ask students to generate criteria for an effective charter:
- allows for legitimate pursuit of collective interests
- promotes international and domestic peace and prosperity
- is not discriminatory—offers a fair balance among competing interests.
Design a charter of national duties
Considering the obligations of a nation to its citizens, the dangers of ultranationalism and the threats to international peace and stability, invite students to develop 10 guidelines to form a Charter of National Duties. The charter should consider the following:
- the various stakeholders involved in the pursuit of national interests
- the rights and duties that specify the obligation of a nation's pursuit of its self-interest
- the rights and duties that specify the obligation of a nation to limit its pursuit of self-interest.
Encourage students to use the criteria for an effective charter to guide their selection of the 10 most important guidelines.
To meet diverse learning needs, you may wish to vary the number of guidelines.