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Report for Duty or Resist?

Establish and apply guidelines for evaluating individual or collective civic action during times of conflict.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students establish guidelines for assessing individual or collective civic action during times of conflict by exploring individual and collective responses to issues and government actions.

Explore citizen actions
Provide students with a variety of news stories and headlines that reflect different perspectives on, and examples of, citizens taking action during times of conflict to demonstrate disagreement with government. Without revealing the common themes or the general issue, ask students to identify the similarities among the media accounts. Media accounts could reflect current affairs and local issues as well as historical issues. Search news headlines for relevant accounts. The following accounts reflect events in 2007:

"Dixie Chicks Speak Out on Backlash to Anti-Bush Comment" (accessed October 29, 2008)

"Anti-war protests demand withdrawal from Iraq" (accessed October 29, 2008)

"Saakashvili wins new term in Georgia" (accessed October 29, 2008)

"Dozens die in Kenyan election violence" (accessed October 29, 2008).

Students may indicate that each news story and headline refers to a type of protest, that it involves some type of conflict or that each situation occurs in a democratic country. Prompt students to reflect on the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship in a democratic country.

You may wish to refer to What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen? (Critical Challenge) to develop these concepts.

Initiate a discussion regarding the nature of the actions presented in the news stories and headlines. Discussion questions may include the following:

  • What different perspectives could exist on the rights, roles and responsibilities of the individual during times of conflict?
  • Are there situations in a democratic society when violent protests are acceptable?
  • Are there situations in a democratic society when nonviolent protests are unacceptable?

Develop criteria for an appropriate action
Ask students to consider what criteria could be used to determine the appropriateness of citizen actions during times of conflict. Criteria could include the following:

  • the effectiveness of the action in preventing or ending the conflict
  • the degree of support for the action
  • the costs of the protest; e.g., financial, human life
  • the scale of the protest in relation to the scale of the conflict.

Judge the actions
Organize students in groups. Assign an example or ask students to select an example that is associated with citizen action during times of conflict. Examples of actions/activists could include the following:

humanitarian crises

  • Myanmar (2008)
  • contemporary examples

antiwar movements

  • Vietnam war protests
  • Canadian antiwar protests (2007, Afghanistan and Iraq)
  • contemporary examples

pro-democracy movements

  • Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Ukraine election protests (2004)
  • contemporary examples

civil rights movements (30-1)

  • Martin Luther King
  • Detroit Race Riots
  • Rosa Parks
  • contemporary examples

illiberalism (30-1)

  • McCarthyism
  • contemporary examples

Instruct students to identify the following for the assigned actions/activists:

  • reason for action
  • objective of action
  • action details—number of people, location, time period
  • key events
  • government response
  • results and effects.

Invite students to place the actions on a continuum to illustrate the appropriateness of the actions. Remind students to consider the criteria for an appropriate action when determining the placement of the action.

Actions taken were
largely appropriate

Actions taken were somewhat appropriate

Actions taken were somewhat inappropriate

Actions taken were mostly inappropriate


Share judgements
Ask students to share their judgements with others and discuss the extent to which the actions taken were shaped by an ideology.

Last updated: October 10, 2018 | (Revision History)
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