Social Studies – Grade 11 Close this window
  What's this?

National Interests and Internationalism

  • Propose a foreign policy response to a particular global challenge or opportunity from a designated perspective.
  • To what extent should nationalism be sacrificed in the interests of internationalism?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

As a possible culminating challenge, students explore the relationship between national interests and internationalism as they propose a foreign policy response to particular global challenges or opportunities from a designated perspective and then decide, overall, whether internationalism should take precedence over national interests.

A.  Propose a foreign policy response to a particular global challenge or opportunity from a designated perspective.

Identify global challenges and opportunities

Gather various headlines from current newspapers and newsmagazines that reflect issues of concern to Canada and the world. Select three kinds of issues:

  • national issues particular to individual nations or states
  • global issues that impact many countries including Canada
  • issues that may initially appear to be localized to a particular nation or state but in fact have international implications.

Sample Issues

  • National issues
    • child care debate
    • funding for the CBC
  • Global challenges
    • SARS
    • global warming
    • terrorism
  • Global opportunities
    • trade
    • space exploration.

Cluster headlines
Invite groups of students to sort the headlines by posting them on a wall under one or more of three headings: National Issue, Global Challenge, Global Opportunity. You may want to provide students with a chart containing three concentric circles to structure their sorting of headlines. Encourage each group of students to decide on the dominant category for each event headline. Ask students to place the headlines in the overlap between the circles if they thought the focus was equally divided between two or more of the categories. When all the headlines have been sorted, arrange for students to examine how other groups clustered the headlines and to question, respectfully, other groups' categorizations.


Global Challenge

National Issue


Global Opportunity

Adopt a national perspective
Randomly assign each group of students a country to represent. Draw from a list of developed and developing countries; e.g., Canada, Britain, United States, South Africa, China, India, Argentina, Jamaica. Arrange for groups to research basic facts about their assigned country, such as GDP/GNP, literacy rates, class structure (see References). Inform students that they are to consider their designated national perspective when developing a foreign policy response to an assigned global challenge or opportunity and when discussing the response presented by their peers to other international issues.

Assign a global challenge or opportunity
Randomly assign each group an issue that represents a global challenge, opportunity or both. These issues might include the following:

  • global poverty
  • AIDS in Africa
  • threat of a pandemic
  • global trade
  • space exploration
  • global warming
  • resource depletion
  • medical research
  • depletion of ocean life
  • other current issues.

Gather background knowledge
Invite students to gather information on their assigned issue. Suggest that they use the following questions to organize their research:

  • Who is most and least impacted by the issue?
  • What is the nature of the impact? Does it represent a challenge, an opportunity or both?
  • Where is the primary centre of the issue?
  • When did the issue arise? When did/will the issue reach a high point?
  • Why is the issue worthy of global attention?

To structure and assess this activity, you may want to adapt one of the charts and rubric in Collecting Information (Support Material).

To meet diverse learning needs, consider focusing student research by providing a selection of text resources and/or appropriate Web sites (see Potential Web Sites Background Information).

Propose a foreign policy response
Invite groups to develop a foreign policy response to their assigned issue from their designated country's perspective. Each group should defend its response to the global challenge by identifying the best way to overcome or control the risks. When responding to a global opportunity, groups should identify the best way to ensure that the benefits are realized and shared globally using the following criteria for a feasible response:

  • attainable implementation
  • effective in bringing about widespread global benefits
  • fair to all those concerned.

Encourage students to offer a clear recommendation with supporting reasons. Students should also identify and respond to reasons that might be offered against their recommendation.

To structure and assess this activity, you may want to adapt one of the charts and assessment rubric in Justifying My Choice (Support Material).

Share their findings
Arrange for each group to have five minutes of class time to present its proposal and supporting reasons to the rest of the class. Remind groups to provide a context for their issue. This can be done using the 5Ws as a guide. Once each proposal has been presented, invite other groups to consider its merits and limitations from their assigned countries' perspectives. Throughout the discussions, invite students to consider whether the issue is better addressed in actions and policies that serve specific national interests or serve common international interests.

Participate in a U-shaped discussion on internationalism
Once every proposal has been presented and discussed, ask students to reflect on the place of national interests in responding to global challenges and opportunities. The purpose is to consider the merits or dangers of nationalism.

You may wish to consider holding a U-shaped discussion to address the issue, "To what extent should nationalism be sacrificed in the interests of internationalism?" Students may arrange themselves in a U-shape, with one end representing the view that "A strong national interest is vital to meeting global challenges and opportunities" and the other end representing the view that "A strong national interest is a grave threat to meeting global challenges and opportunities." Students who support a balance of national interests and international considerations would locate themselves toward the centre of the U.

To structure and assess this activity, see U-shaped Discussion (Support Material).

Remind students during the discussion to represent their informed personal conclusions based on the evidence gathered from all the groups. Immediately following the discussion, invite students to reflect on the following four topics:

  • their position and supporting reasons at the start of the discussion
  • interesting arguments offered by two other students that caused the student to wonder about or rethink his or her position
  • whether the student moved during the discussion and the reasons for remaining in the same position or for changing position
  • the most powerful reasons that support the student's final position on the issue.

To structure the discussion reflections, you may want to use Reflections on U-shaped Discussion found in U-shaped Discussion (Support Material).

B.  To what extent should nationalism be sacrificed in the interests of internationalism?

Prepare an individual written response

Instruct students to prepare a written response to the central question: To what extent should nationalism be sacrificed in the interests of internationalism? The written response could take any of the following forms:

  • position paper
  • letter to the editor of a national newspaper
  • short story about the world 100 years in the future.

Remind students to use their reflections on U-shaped discussion to guide their written responses.

Last updated: May 30, 2008 | (Revision History)
Copyright | Feedback
Back to top