Context matters. I mean that in terms of the context in which I read. Sometimes, I put a book aside as not relevant, not interesting, or just not the right book at the right time. Currently, my context is the COVID-19 pandemic and my safer-at-home lockdown. For escape, I’ve turned to books, but perhaps oddly, to non-fiction. The more dire the situation, the more tragic the true story, the better I feel. In troubled times, I find solace. In tales of disaster, I discover courage and resilience, pain and perseverance, hope and victory. Everywhere these books take me, I find context for understanding what we face today and lessons for living through catastrophe. In the early spring of the pandemic, Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile (2020) and Black Death at the Golden Gate (2019) by David K. Randall were gripping page-turners.
So is The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women (2016) by Kate Moore. Moore took me to the radium-dial factories of Newark and Orange, New Jersey and then to Illinois through a story I had never heard before. During World War I, young women from working-class families found good-paying jobs painting watches and other instruments that glowed in the dark for the military. After the war, the desire for these watches exploded, factories expanded production, and the women recruited their younger sisters and friends to join them at companies such as Radium Luminous Materials Corporation, United States Radium Corporation, and Radium Dial Corporation.
The Radium Girls, as they were called, were excited to be front and center at the radium craze. Discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, radium was rare and one of the most valuable commodities in the world. Two decades later, radium was considered a wonder drug, a cure-all for just about everything. Consumers drank radium potions and swallowed radium pills; the wealthy went to radium clinics and spas. Products from jock straps to mosquito sprays claimed, often falsely, to contain radium. The radium dial factories engaged the girls in an important war effort, painting luminous airplane instruments, gunsights, and ship’s compasses. This was a job for women – some as young as 14 – with excellent fine motor skills. Many earned more than their laborer fathers and brothers. The radium girls enjoyed the female camaraderie of the factory floor; they bought nice clothes and danced the nights away with eligible young men; they were happy; they glowed.
Quite literally, the women glowed. As they painted, they mastered the technique of dipping the fine camel-haired brushes into the radium paint, then their mouths to wet the brush into an even finer point. Paid by the piece, their goal was to paint the small dials as precisely and quickly as possible. With every dip, the girls swallowed the radioactive substance. Despite their care not to waste paint, the fine dust covered their hands, their hair and their clothes. When they walked home together at night, hung their glowing dresses in their closets, and stood in front of a mirror, the girls “fairly shone in the dark,” like “otherworldly angels.”
By 1921, the first of the Radium Girls was sick. Teeth fell out, jaws crumbled, bone cancers grew, women failed to conceive or miscarried. Through the 1920s and 30s, many died painful deaths, some quickly, some slowly. Initially, the girls, their dentists and their doctors made no connection to their work. When the first finally did, linking their own illnesses with those of friends and co-workers, the companies denied that the paint could be the cause. Radium, after all, was harmless, they testified.
The Radium Girls is the story of the courageous women and a handful of doctors and lawyers who take on powerful corporations and a legal system determined to thwart them at every turn, calculating that they can outlive the dying women. Company officials lie and cover-up; mayors and chambers of commerce welcome jobs during the Great Depression; neighbors turn on the women and their families; victims of radium poisoning die. The not-yet-dead fight on. Though few of the Radium Girls themselves would benefit, eventually laws were written, saving other lives.
Kate Moore uncovers the lives of these women and makes their heartbreaking story personal. She shows us that the fight for workers’ rights and lives never ends, but that change is possible. The Radium Girls belong with The Jungle’s meatpackers and the Triangle Shirtwaist women in our history lessons. In our Covid-19 pandemic times, the fight for workers’ lives continues; the Radium Girls light the way.
In the 1950s and 1960s the revolutionary communist-led government of China enlisted elementary school-age students to educate adults about the need for public health measures. The Chinese campaign against spitting in public was actually not new or communist inspired. In the late 19th century, as immigrants poured into overcrowded urban areas, tuberculosis bacterium (TB) was responsible for a pandemic that caused the death of one in seven people in the United States and Europe. It New York City, spitting on a public conveyance was made illegal in 1896 and spitters were subject to arrest and a fine of up to fifty dollars. Signs were placed in street cars and on the subway system warning that spitting spread TB. When the signs proved to be an inadequate deterrence, health officers, known as the Sanitary Squad, conducted random raids at subway stations arresting hundreds of scofflaws. The city also launched public health campaigns distributing flyers and schools were enlisted to educate children about the spread of the disease.
This play was performed on street corners in Hangzhou and Shanghai by Young Pioneers, children between the ages of nine and thirteen. In the 1950s and again during the Corona virus pandemic today, China uses poster art to teach public health lessons. Classes can act out and discuss “Do Not Spit at Random” on Zoom. This version of the play is from a New York City multicultural curriculum package (1967).
Questions for discussion include:
Who are the Young Pioneers?
In your opinion, why are they involved in the public health campaign?
What are some of the arguments and social pressures used to make the Passer-By clean up the spit?
If you lived in China at that time, would you have joined the Young Pioneers? Explain.
Do you think student plays like this one would help in the current Corona virus pandemic? Explain. As a follow-up, students can write their own plays teaching people how to be safe during the Corona virus pandemic and create public health posters. Do Not Spit at Random (188u-yao sui-ti t’u t’an) by Fang Tzu Setting: Street corner of Hangzhou, China, the early 1960s. A young girl Pioneer with a megaphone comes out from a crowd in the street or from among the audience in a theater.
Characters: Young Pioneer (Hsiao-Ying) Passer-By (Ch’em Jung-fa) One of the Crowd Crowd People’s Police Mother
YOUNG PIONEER. Dear uncles and aunts, please do not spit at random. Spitting at random on the ground is a most deplorable habit. It helps to spread germs and disease, and so may affect our health harmfully. Dear uncles and aunts, if you want to spit, please do so into a cuspidor. If there is no cuspidor at hand, then spit into a handkerchief.
PASSER-BY (walks across a stage with a briefcase, makes noise as if going to spit). Hmm …hawk…choo! (Spits phlegm on the ground.)
YOUNG PIONEER (seeing the passer-by spit, hurries away from the crow to overtake the man, or leaps onto stage from below). Uncle, uncle, don’t spit on the ground. Please rub it away with a piece of paper.
PASSER-BY. My young friend with the cuspidor so far away, where do you think I should spit.
YOUNG PIONEER. You can go up to the cuspidor. It’s only a few steps away.
PASSER-BY. I’d have to go there and come back again. How do you think I am going to catch my bus?
YOUNG PIONEER. Uncle, don’t you know there are many germs in spittle? When it dries the germs will be scattered everywhere, and, by breathing the air, people may be infected with such diseases as typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis –
PASSER-BY. I am not a tubercular. So there cannot be any germs in the phlegm I coughed out.
YOUNG PIONEER. It is a social obligation to refrain from spitting at one random. If everyone spits and insist that there can be no germs in what he has spat, how can we be patriotic and keep ourselves in good health?
ONE OF THE CROWD (speaks from the crowd or from the audience, in a theater). Rub the spittle away quick! (A large crowd gathers around the passer-by)
PASSER-BY (irritated). Hmm. You want me to squat there and rub away the spittle? But I have no time for that. Besides, I’m not used to doing that sort of thing. (Prepared to go.)
YOUNG PIONEER. Uncle, uncle, don’t go. I haven’t finished with you yet.
PASSER-BY. I have to go home now to my dinner and have no time to carry on a conversation.
ONE OF THE CROWD. Hey, you come back here! There can’t be a more unreasonable man than you.
PASSER-BY. How so?
YOUNG PIONEER (offering a piece of paper). Uncle, please rub it away with this piece of paper.
PASSER-BY. I won’t do it!
YOUNG PIONEER. How can you refuse to carry out a social obligation?
PASSER-BY. Are you lecturing me? (Here a number of actors come out of the crowd to speak, or speak from among the audience, or some may go up on the stage.)
CROWD. What? You are trying to assume airs? Don’t argue with him. Call the police. Police! Comrade police!
PASSER-BY. I won’t rub it. I promise not to spit again.
CROWD. Comrade, what is your unit?
PASSER-BY. That’s none of your business
CROWD. Why isn’t it my business? When you refuse to carry out a public obligation, everyone is entitled to criticize you.
PEOPLE’S POLICE (enters). What’s happened here? (At this moment the crowd becomes larger.)
CROWD. He spat at random and refuses to accept criticism. He would not listen to the advice of a child. And he’s such a big man. He is no better than this child. And he is a Party member too! Probably a backward one.
PEOPLE’S POLICE. All right, it’s clear to me now. (Addressing the crowd.) Comrades! What do you think we should do with such a man?
CROWD. He should be criticized and fined. He should be made the subject of a wall newspaper. A cartoon should be drawn of him for all to see. He should be taken to the police station.
PEOPLE’S POLICE. Oh, well, if you will not rub it away, I’ll do it for you. But, first of all, may I know what unit you belong to?
PASSER-BY. As for that – (The voice of a middle-aged woman is heard offstage calling someone.)
MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, Hsiao-ying!
YOUNG PIONEER. Oh, Mama!
MOTHER. There you are. We’ve been waiting for you a long time. The meal is cold. Won’t you hurry home to your meal?
YOUNG PIONEER. I haven’t finished my work yet.
MOTHER. Work? What sort of work?
YOUNG PIONEER. Someone has spat on the ground and refuses to accept criticism. Unless he cleans it off, I am not going to let him go.
MOTHER (recognizes the passer-by). Oh, is that you, Comrade Ch’en?
PASSER-BY. Er – es, it’s me, Teacher Wang.
MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, who is it that refuses to accept criticism?
YOUNG PIONEER. Mama, there he is.
PEOPLE’S POLICE (addressing mother). Comrade, do you know which unit this comrade belongs to?
MOTHER. He is the accountant of the cotton mill. He is Comrade Ch’en Jung-fa.
PEOPLE’S POLICE. Good, thank you. (Addressing the passer-by.) I think there’s only one way now. (Draws a circle round the spittle on the ground with a piece of chalk and is about to write down the name of the passer-by and the unit to which he belongs.)
PASSER-BY (frightened). Comrade, don’t! Don’t write down the name of my unit! (Addressing the crowd.) Comrades and my young friend, please pardon me this once. You may write my name there, but please do not write the name of our mill too. Our mill has already signed a patriotic health pact.
PEOPLE’S POLICE. Yet you break the pact?
PASSER-BY. All right, I’ll clean it, I’ll clean it. I promise not to do the same thing again.
PEOPLE’S POLICE (to mother). Comrade, your child is really a good Young Pioneer, a young heroine for the elimination of the seven pests (mosquitoes, flies, rats, sparrows, and so forth) and for public health. If everyone eliminates the seven pests in earnest and maintains public hygiene as she does, our cities and the countryside will be rid of the seven pests sooner, disease will largely be wiped out, people will be healthier than ever, and the nation will be more prosperous and stronger.
MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, hurry home to your meal. It’s already cold.
YOUNG PIONEER. Mama, my group leader isn’t here yet. I’ll go home when he come to relieve me.
MOTHER. Oh, well, I’ll have to warm the meal again anyway.
YOUNG PIONEER (speaking through megaphone and coming toward crowd in the street or toward audience in theater). Dear uncles and aunts, please do not spit at random. Sitting at random is a most deplorable habit.
Kristen Bradle, Jessica Hermann and Dean Bacigalupo
Rationale: This package was created as a resource to assist educators who are teaching the 9th grade New Jersey World History or 9th and 10th grade New York State Global History and Geography curriculum. The resources and guiding questions are aligned with the New Jersey and New York Learning Standards and the academic skills required on the New York State Global History and Geography Regents examination. The resources highlight the impact of climate change on human societies as an enduring issue that reemerged at different points in history. These resources contain strong transdisciplinary connections between Social Studies, Science, and STEM/STEAM.
The impact of climate change on human societies is one of the most pressing topics affecting the world today. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is demanding government and corporate action to prevent a climate catastrophe. Goals in designing these materials were to interest students in the past and to engage them as active citizens in the present empowered with historical knowledge.
Human Impact on the Environment: Includes environmental degradation, deforestation, desertification, global warming, destruction of ozone layer, pollution, extinction of species/loss of species, loss of biodiversity, diversion of rivers/water sources, use of alternative energy sources, impact of policies on sustainability, and spread of disease.
Impact of Environment on Humans: Includes impact of climate, impact of natural disasters, and impact of policies designed to deal with natural disasters.
Impact of Technology: Includes consequences of technology use for people and consequences of technology use for the environment. Impact of Industrialization: Includes consequences of industrialization.
Impact of Globalization: Includes consequences of interdependence.
Social Studies Frameworks: The following New York State Frameworks are addressed in this series of climate activity sheets:
CLASSICAL CIVILIZATIONS: EXPANSION, ACHIEVEMENT, DECLINE: Classical civilizations in Eurasia and Mesoamerica employed a variety of methods to expand and maintain control over vast territories. They developed lasting cultural achievements. Both internal and external forces led to the eventual decline of these empires. Geographic factors encouraged and hindered a state’s/empire’s expansion and interactions. Students will investigate how geographic factors encouraged or hindered expansion and interactions within the Greek, Roman, and Mayan civilizations.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL GROWTH AND CONFLICT: During the postclassical era, the growth of transregional empires and the use of trade networks influenced religions and spread disease. These cross-cultural interactions also led to conflict and affected demographic development. Networks of exchange facilitated the spread of disease, which affected social, cultural, economic, and demographic development. Students will map the spread of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) as it was carried westward from Asia to Africa and Europe. Students will evaluate the effects of the Black Death on these regions
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: Innovations in agriculture, production, and transportation led to the Industrial Revolution, which originated in Western Europe and spread over time to Japan and other regions. This led to major population shifts and transformed economic and social systems.
GLOBALIZATION AND A CHANGING GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT (1990–PRESENT): Technological changes have resulted in a more interconnected world, affecting economic and political relations and in some cases leading to conflict and in others to efforts to cooperate. Globalization and population pressures have led to strains on the environment. Technological changes in communication and transportation systems allow for instantaneous interconnections and new networks of exchange between people and places that have lessened the effects of time and distance. Students will investigate the causes and effects of, and responses to, one infectious disease (e.g., malaria, HIV/AIDS). Population pressures, industrialization, and urbanization have increased demands for limited natural resources and food resources, often straining the environment. Students will examine strains on the environment, such as threats to wildlife and degradation of the physical environment (i.e., desertification, deforestation and pollution) due to population growth, industrialization, and urbanization.
Science and STEM/STEAM Transdisciplinary Connections: The NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards with STEM/STEAM practices and crosscutting concepts guidance document that was referenced to inform connections with middle and high social studies can be found at: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/program s/curriculum-instruction/p-12-science-learningstandards.pdf Transdisciplinary connections for middle school include 3 inquiries: Earth’s Systems, Weather and Climate, and Human Impacts can be found on pages 48-50. Transdisciplinary connections for high school include the inquiry focused on Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems and can be found on pages 67-68.
Sample Lesson Introduction Below is a visual Do Now activity that displays the impact and affect climate change has had on the world. This provides students with the evidence and visual understanding that the climate change has resulted drastic changes to our ecosystems. The website below, created by NASA, displays a series of before and after pictures of different climate change “hot spots” around the world. Within these pictures, visible changes, such as rising levels of water can be seen. https://climate.nasa.gov/images-of-change?id=709#709-christmas-tree-harvest-inashe-county-north-carolina
DO NOW: You will examine a series of images on the board, while viewing these images fill out the chart below.
Topic: Old Kingdom Egypt AIM: What environmental change caused the downfall of Old Kingdom Egypt? These documents explore the effect of desertification in the past.
Document 1: Desertification of Egypt “Tomb paintings and inscriptions hint that the environment became more arid toward the end of the Old Kingdom, as some plants disappeared and sand dunes crept close to river settlements. Data drawn from cores in the Nile basin confirm that the climate began to dry around 2200 B.C.” Source: Did Egypt’s Old Kingdom Die—or Simply Fade Away?
Document 3:Desertification of the Sahara “7,300 to 5,500 years ago: Retreating monsoonal rains initiated desiccation in the Egyptian Sahara, prompting humans to move to remaining habitable niches in Sudanese Sahara. The end of the rains and return of desert conditions throughout the Sahara after 5,500 coincides with population return to the Nile Valley and the beginning of pharaonic society . . . The climate change at [10,500 years ago] which turned most of the [3.8 million square mile] large Sahara into a savannah-type environment happened within a few hundred years only, certainly within less than 500 years,” said study team member Stefan Kroepelin of the University of Cologne in Germany.” Source: https://www.livescience.com/4180-saharadesert-lush-populated.html
Document 4:Effects of Drought and Desertification on the Egyptian Empire “When a drought brought famine to the land, there was no longer any meaningful central government to respond to it. The Old Kingdom ended with the 6th Dynasty as no strong ruler came to the throne to lead the people. Local officials took care of their own communities and had no resources, nor felt the responsibility, to help the rest of the country. As the 6th Dynasty passed away, Egypt slowly tumbled into the era now classified by scholars as the First Intermediate Period . . . At the end of the 6th Dynasty, there was no longer a central government of note and Egypt entered a period of social unrest and reformation known as The Frist Intermediate Period (2181-2040 BCE) during which Egypt was ruled regionally by local magistrates who made and enforced their own laws. The rise of these local officials and the power of the priesthood were not the only causes of the collapse of the Old Kingdom, however, in that a severe drought toward the end of the 6th Dynasty brought famine which the government could do nothing to alleviate. Scholars have also pointed to the exceptionally long reign of Pepi II of the 6th Dynasty as a contributing factor because he outlived his successors and left no heir to the throne.” Source: https://www.ancient.eu/Old_Kingdom_of_Egypt/
Questions: The civilizations you examined today made advances in their societies.
How have environmental factors impacted the societies you examined today?
How did the advances civilizations made contribute to environmental consequences?
How have these advances caused a long-lasting impact that is negatively affecting societies today?
Identify a similarity or a difference between the events, ideas, or historical developments presented in documents 1 and 2.
Explain a similarity or a difference in the events, ideas, or historical developments presented in these documents. Be sure to use evidence from both documents 1 and 2 in your response.
Topic: Collapse of Akkadian Empire Aim: What did the Curse of Akkad teach us about the impact of climate on society? These documents examine the effect of drought caused by a changing local environment.
“For some time, researchers attributed the collapse to political disintegration and invasion by hostile groups. Some paleoclimate records indicate that a catastrophic drought also occurred around this time and suggest that climate factors beyond the control of the empire played a role in its demise.” Source: Drought and the Akkadian Empire
“Instead of rain, the Akkadians and their subjects were baked by dry, hot winds from the north. Precipitation fell by 30 percent, and crops withered in the field; the raw wind picked up the topsoil and blew it south. With their surplus dwindling, the fields barren, and laborers consuming what was left, at some point the Akkadians decided the game was up. Many of the Akkadians moved south, likely as word filtered back that the Euphrates, though diminished, continued to flow, supplying irrigation water to the fields there. Some refugees became pastoral nomads, moving with their herds in search of fodder.
Those who remained at Tell Leilan left no trace. As the decades went by, sand and dust gradually entombed the acropolis. When the winds and drought finally abated, some three hundred years later, new settlers moved in.” -Eugene Linden, The Winds of Change
What was “The Curse of Akkad”?
Use specific quotes from the text to explain what happened as a result of the climate change the Akkadian Empire experienced.
How did Akkadians adapt/respond to the changing climate?
Topic: Mayan Civilization Aim: Did consequences of climate change play a significant role in the downfall of the Mayan Civilization? Climate change played a critical role on the collapse of the Mayan Civilization.
Document #1: Chart of Evaporation: Scientists have reconstructed climate at the time of the Mayan civilization by studying lake sediment cores from the Yucatan Peninsula (Hodell et al. 1995; Curtis et al. 1996; Hodell et al. 2005). It is possible to reconstruct changes in the balance between precipitation and evaporation (P−E), a common indicator of drought, by measuring oxygen isotope data from the shells of gastropods and ostracods. Lake H2O molecules containing the isotope 18O evaporate less easily than H2O molecules with 16O. Thus, during periods of strong evaporation, the lake water becomes enriched in 18O (values of δ18O are high). These isotopic values are incorporated into the growing shells of gastropods and ostracods that live in the lake.
Another proxy for P−E is the percent of sulfur in the lake sediments. Evaporation concentrates sulfur in the lake water. If the sulfur concentration becomes high enough, salts such as gypsum (CaSO4) will start to precipitate from the lake water and add sulfur to the lake sediments. The variations of sulfur percentage match the variations in oxygen isotopes closely. Corroborating one paleoclimate proxy with another is an important check on proxy records and gives us more confidence in them.
Document 2: Effects of Deforestation on Mayan Civilization: “Results from simulations with a regional climate model demonstrate that deforestation by the Maya also likely induced warmer, drier, drought‐like conditions. It is therefore hypothesized that the drought conditions devastating the Maya resulted from a combination of natural variability and human activities. Neither the natural drought or the human‐induced effects alone were sufficient to cause the collapse, but the combination created a situation the Maya could not recover from. These results may have sobering implications for the present and future state of climate and water resources in Mesoamerica as ongoing massive deforestation is again occurring.” Source: Oglesby, R. J., T. L. Sever, W. Saturno, D. J. Erickson III, and J. Srikishen (2010). “Collapse of the Maya: Could deforestation have contributed?” J. Geophys. Res., 115, D12106, doi:10.1029/2009JD011942.
“Deforestation led to lower rainfall and higher temperatures; both factors would have been detrimental to Mayan life. The reduction in rainfall means it would have been more difficult for the Maya to store enough water to survive the dry season, while the warmer conditions put more stress on evaporation, vegetation, livestock, and people. These effects occurred during both the wet and dry seasons but were much larger during the wet season, when they were also arguably more important. This is because the Maya societal structure depended on storage of water during the wet season, which in turn provided for them during the dry season.” Source: AGU Journal
Document 3: Effects of Drought on Mayan Civilization: “Recent data indicate that a major drought at this time may have been a key factor in the collapse. Research along the Holmul River, which runs through several bajos and connects 10 major Maya cities, indicates that between A.D. 750 and 850 the river either dried up or became swampy, perhaps as a result of a long period of drought” [Sever and Irwin, 2003; T. P. Culbert, personal communication, 2002].
Document 4: Reduction of Rainfall and Wetland Formation: Researchers from Arizona State University analyzed archaeological data from across the Yucatan to reach a better understanding of the environmental conditions when the area was abandoned. Around this time, they found, severe reductions in rainfall were coupled with a rapid rate of deforestation, as the Mayans burned and chopped down more and more forest to clear land for agriculture. Interestingly, they also required massive amounts of wood to fuel the fires that cooked the lime plaster for their elaborate constructions—experts estimate it would have taken 20 trees to produce a single square meter of cityscape. Smithsonian magazine Accelerator mass spectrometry dates chart and conceptual model of wetland formation. (Credit: T. Beach et al., University of Texas at Austin)
Document 5: Lake Bottom Sediment Core from Yucatan Peninsula: Bands located on sediment core help indicate periods of drought and periods of rainfall based on the coloring of the bands. Below, is a piece of lake bottom sediment core from the Yucatan Peninsula, displaying periods of drought during the time of the Mayan collapse.
Questions for Mayan Document Series:
How did deforestation and drought play a critical role in the decline and eventual collapse of the Mayan Civilization?
How does science aid historians in understanding important changes in climate that have affected civilizations?
Based on the research presented in this document series, did consequences of climate change play a significant role in the downfall of the Mayan Civilization?
Topic: Roman Empire (27 BC-476 AD) Aim: How did shifts in climate lead to the decline of the Roman Empire? During the establishment and peak of the Roman empire Europe was enduring a period of climate stability. When Rome began experiencing colder, unstable weather, deadly epidemics led to a decline in civilization.
Document 1: Climate Change Background “Climate change did not begin with the exhaust fumes of industrialization, but has been a permanent feature of human existence. Orbital mechanics (small variations in the tilt, spin and eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit) and solar cycles alter the amount and distribution of energy received from the Sun. And volcanic eruptions spew reflective sulphates into the atmosphere, sometimes with long-reaching effects. Modern, anthropogenic climate change is so perilous because it is happening quickly and in conjunction with so many other irreversible changes in the Earth’s biosphere. But climate change per seis nothing new.” Source: Smithsonian
Document 2: How Favorable Climate Led To The Rise of the Roman Empire “It turns out that climate had a major role in the rise and fall of Roman civilization. The empire-builders benefitted from impeccable timing: the characteristic warm, wet and stable weather was conducive to economic productivity in an agrarian society. The benefits of economic growth supported the political and social bargains by which the Roman empire controlled its vast territory. The favorable climate, in ways subtle and profound, was baked into the empire’s innermost structure.” Source: Smithsonian
Document 3: Climate and The Fall of The Roman Empire “The end of this lucky climate regime did not immediately, or in any simple deterministic sense, spell the doom of Rome. Rather, a less favorable climate undermined its power just when the empire was imperiled by more dangerous enemies— Germans, Persians—from without. Climate instability peaked in the sixth century, during the reign of Justinian. Work by dendro-chronologists and ice-core experts points to an enormous spasm of volcanic activity in the 530s and 540s CE, unlike anything else in the past few thousand years. This violent sequence of eruptions triggered what is now called the ‘Late Antique Little Ice Age,’ when much colder temperatures endured for at least 150 years. This phase of climate deterioration had decisive effects in Rome’s unravelling. It was also intimately linked to a catastrophe of even greater moment: the outbreak of the first pandemic of bubonic plague.” Source: Smithsonian
Document 4: Levels of Precipitation in the Roman Empire The Fall of the Roman Empire was affected by a period of cooling, known as the Little Ice Age. This period of cooling greatly affected the way people lived. Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
Document 5 and 6: Favorable Flooding of the Nile Creating Stable Conditions Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History “Finally, unnoticed until not, Egypt, the Roman Empire’s breadbasket, spears to have enjoyed exceptionally favorable conditions for cereal production during this period . Nile river levels reflect precipitation over Ethiopia and East and Central Africa. Precious study has clarified the history of Nile floods down to 299 A.D., but that abundant evidence has never been exploited for climate history or economic performance. Before Rome annexed Egypt, all seven of nine securely recorded Nile floods in the earlier years of the first century B.C. were below average. For the next 329 years, from the annexation in 30 B.C. to 299 S.D., reliable documents allow an estimate of the annual flood in 199 different years, after which the available data become more scarce until 642 A.D. They show a subtle but significant pattern: The most favorable floods occurred when contrasted with those of the following period.”
Note:Dead Sea: Fluctuating sea levels reflect overall precipitation in the Levant. Although the chronology is fluid, recent work clearly confirms earlier findings of an early and late period of humid conditions, separated and followed by dry conditions Note:Lake Van: Oxygen isotopes within our period indicate most humid conditions c. the first centuries B.C. and A.D. and c. the fifth and sixth centuries A.D., and dry conditions c. the third and seventh centuries.
Document 7: Favorable Conditions During the Roman Empire Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, The Roman Optimum: Stability from C. 100 B.C. to 200 A.D. Exceptional climate stability characterizes the centuries of the Roman Empire’s rise; certain regions enjoyed unusually favorable conditions. In the western Roman Empire, the first century B.C. through the first and possibly second century A.D. were warmer than later centuries. Archaeological evidence from Britain, ice-core date from Greenland, and dendrodata about summer temperature.
Document 8: The Fall of the Roman Empire Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History We synthesize the results for the entire sweep of Roman imperial history in four multi-century phases, distinguishing between the western (approximately -9.34 to 22 degrees) and the eastern (22 degrees to 38.96 degrees) regions of the Empire. The written, archeological, and natural-scientific proxy evidence independently but consistently indicates that climate conditions changed during the period of the Roman Empire’s maximum expansion and final crisis. Rates of change shifted dramatically over time, from apparent near stasis under the early Empire to rapid fluctuations later in the Empire’s history. Changes affected different parts of the Empire in different ways and at different times. Even though the different data sets are not in perfect agreement about absolute dating, they impressively converge about the sequence of events. In each case, the discussion moves from west to east.
Why might an unprecedented period of chilling have major consequences on the Roman Empire?
Why is it important river levels and flooding remain on a set schedule and stay predictable? If they do not, what effects might it have on society?
Was the Roman Empire able to adapt to climate change?
Topic: Collapse of the Norse North Atlantic Network Aim: How did climate change cause the Inuit civilization to prosper and the downfall of the Norse? Climate change can cause one civilization to flourish while it causes another to collapse. Civilizations that are able adapt to climate change may prevail.
Medieval Warming Period 900-1250 A.D. created wealth and prosperity in Europe. During this time the peak expansion of Viking Influence occurred. This warming period caused the growing season to lengthen as population and trade expanded throughout Europe. The Norse first ventured to Iceland starting in 874 when trees were plentiful. From Iceland they traveled to Greenland which had “better land for growing barley than Iceland, as well as birch and willow trees, and meadows to support livestock.” In an attempt to expand their influence some “Norse traders ventured to North America during the 350-year span of the Western Settlement in Greenland” but “Norse ventures in the New World petered out” and the Norse were forced to return to Greenland and Iceland. The weather turning colder due to the Little Ice Age “eliminated the possibility that the Norse would colonize North America.”
“Climate changes, and when it does, it favors some and penalizes others. This is what happened during the Viking Age. Starting between 1343 and 1345, Greenland suffered through ten cold years, culminating in the worst winter in five hundred years in 1355. This led to the collapse of the western colony.” The Norse civilization slowly collapsed and starved as “short cold summers gave the Norse no opportunity to rebuild their flocks and grain supplies. For food, they relied on hunting and gathering as well as farming…and relied on meat and milk to get them through the winter.”
“The Inuit flourished during this same period. The Norse could have survived the bad weather too if they had learned from the Inuit, who love it when the weather turns frigid because it gives them an ice platform from which to hunt ringed seals with harpoons when the mammals surface at breathing holes in the sea ice. Christian Norse likely regarded the shamanistic Inuit as unenlightened and beneath them. The Norse could have adapted Inuit hunting methods and survived the Little Ice Age. Greenland colonies prospered during the warm years and became uninhabitable by agrarian people during the cold years. The Little Ice Age proved absolutely fatal to the Greenland colonies.” – Linden, The Winds of Change
Would the world be different today if the Medieval Warm Period had continued and Greenland settlers had endured? Explain your answer.
Why did the Inuit civilization survive the Little Ice Age while it caused the collapse of the Norse civilization?
Topic: The Fall of the Ancient Khmer Empire 802 CE-1431CE Aim: What does Ancient Khmer infrastructure reveal about their collapse? Through innovation the Khmer Empire tried to decrease the effects of climate instability but ultimately climate change prevailed and led to the fall of the Empire.
“The cause of the Angkor empire’s demise in the early 15th century long remained a mystery. But researchers have now shown that intense monsoon rains that followed a prolonged drought in the region caused widespread damage to the city’s infrastructure, leading to its collapse. From the beginning, water was central to the development of Angkor, which is often described as a “hydraulic city.” Channels and reservoirs were constructed to collect and store water coming from the hills, both for flood control and for distribution for agriculture. A system of overflows and bypasses carried surplus water to the Tonle Sap Lake to the south of the city.
In the mid to late 1300s, Angkor began suffering from a persistent drought. This was followed by several years of unusually strong monsoon rains, producing extensive flooding with which the city’s infrastructure seemed to have been unable to cope. The flooding caused serious erosion in the system, with links in it being systematically severed. To the south of the city, canals were choked with material eroded from the center of Angkor.
The bridge at Angkor Thom was built from reused stone blocks from temples, with many of them carved in intricate ways. That they would take apart a temple and use it for something as mundane as a bridge suggests there is something seriously going wrong. It has long been thought that the damage to the water management system put an end to a long period of decline at Angkor. As the flooding destroyed the infrastructure, the city of Angkor collapsed. In 1431, it was taken by the Siamese army.
How did infrastructure innovations created by the Angkor civilization help their civilization flourish and then aid in the collapse?
What advantages do societies have today for surviving climate change that the Ancient Khmer Empire did not?
Document 1: The Rise of Genghis Khan and The Mongols. “On a research trip to Mongolia in 2010, Pederson, Hessl and their colleagues discovered a stand of stunted Siberian pine trees in the Khangai Mountains. The trees—some of which were still alive—were ancient, some more than 1,100 years old. Old trees provide a living history book of the climate. During warm, wet years, the trees grow more, and the rings inside the trunk that mark those years are wider. The opposite happens during dry years, when the rings would be narrow. Counting back to the late 1100s, just before the rise of Genghis Khan, the tree-ring data indicated that the Mongol steppes had been in the grip of an intense drought, one that could have helped drive the years of division among the Mongol tribes as they competed for scarce resources. But the tree-rings showed that the years between 1211 and 1225—a period of time that coincided with the meteoric rise of Genghis Khan, who died in 1227—were marked by unusually heavy rainfall and mild temperatures.” Source: Time Magazine
Document 2: “The transition from extreme drought to extreme moisture right then strongly suggests that climate played a role in human events. It wasn’t the only thing, but it must have created the ideal conditions for a charismatic leader to emerge out of the chaos, develop an army and concentrate power. Where it’s arid, unusual moisture creates unusual plant productivity, and that translates into horsepower. Genghis was literally able to ride that wave.” Source: PNAS Study, Amy Hessl
Document 3: Tree Ring Moisture: Tree ring moisture indicated the Mongols suffered severe drought and began dealing with a period of moisture when Genghis Khan was able to rise to power. Tree-ring drought reconstruction site (green cross) and inferred temperature site (white cross) are 50 km apart. Map of the Mongol Empire near its zenith (aqua) in 1260 CE. The ancient capital city of Karakorum (black triangle) and current capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (black star). Source: PNAS
How could change in climate lead to the emergence of a new leader?
Why would climate altering from dry to damp help foster conditions where a civilization is able to thrive?
Do we see a similar trend of unfavorable climate conditions, followed by favorable climate conditions leading to the emergence of powerful leaders elsewhere in history?
Topic: Bubonic Plague Aim: Was the Bubonic Plague pandemic driven by climate change? The Bubonic Plague (1346-1353) was a result of weather effects due to climate change during the Little Ice Age (1303-1860)
Document 1: The Spread of the Black Plague “From 1347 to 1353, a second plague pandemic called the Black Death swept across Europe, killing some 25 million people there and another 25 million in Asia and Africa. But plague is not naturally found in Europe. The disease is endemic to Asia, where the bacterium is found among small animals (rodents) and their fleas. It’s possible the disease was reintroduced to Europe multiple times following Asian climate events. The world was suffering through a second plague pandemic as effects of quick succession of floods and droughts. The rodents likely played a role in moving the disease between harbors. Instances of quarantining ships—a practice developed in the late 14th century in response to the Black Death—could have saved at least a few port towns during the centuries of the second pandemic.” Source: Plague Pandemic May Have Been Driven by Climate, Not Rats
Document 2: The climate causes of the Black Plague “Rapid shifts between warm and cool throw ecosystems out of balance, unleashing pests and microbes, and ruining crops. During the Little Ice Age global temperatures dropped between 0.5 and 1 degree centigrade. Flooding in China’s river valleys “one of the greatest weather-related disasters ever known,” since the floods led to the deaths of roughly 7 million people…made Asia a petri dish for the next iteration of the plague in 1332. The years following saw severe drought, setting up the climate seesaw that would cause the rapid increase and collapse of various rodent populations, both of which could have brought the plague into contact with humans. Weather played a role in releasing the Black Death from China and Mongolia, where it had been bottled up in rodent populations. Before it made its way down the Silk Road to Crimea, the plague killed an estimated 35 million people in China. Then, in about 1346, it began to move west. The plague and other epidemics made several return visits over the next few centuries. All these traumas were direct and indirect effects of the Little Ice Age.” Source: Linden, The Winds of Change
Would the world be different today if the Medieval Warm Period had continued and Greenland settlers had endured? Explain your answer.
Why did the Inuit civilization survive the Little Ice Age while it caused the collapse of the Norse civilization?
Topic: Medieval Europe AIM: How did building Cathedrals during the Middle Ages impact the environment? Deforestation places strains on the environment with major consequences.
Document 1: The Notre Dame Cathedral: The Notre Dame Cathedral was built in Paris, France in 1163. On April 15, 2019 a structure fire broke out under the roof in the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Document 2: “The trees that made up the roof’s wooden structure were cut down around 1160, and some sources estimate that the beams accounted for 13,000 trees, or about 21 hectares of medieval forest, many of which had been growing since the 800s or 900s. “You have a stage in France where deforestation was a problem; these buildings consumed huge amounts of wood.” That’s according to Columbia University art historian Stephen Murray, who spoke with Ars Technica. All that wood, he said, supported an outer roof of lead— until the wood burned and the roof collapsed.” Source: Notre Dame Cathedral will never be the same, but it can be rebuilt
Document 3: “The wooden roof, which burned in the fire, was built with beams over 850 years old, comes from secular forests. Most of the large 12thcentury trees were cut for construction, making them a deciding factor in the current state of the trees on French territory. Another major problem is the large-scale deforestation that was taking place at that time. Many trees have grown since the 7th century, which means that much of the wood destroyed in Dombrand was destroyed 1,300 years ago. For the construction of churches castles and ships needed large quantities of wood, leaving a large part of the wood in French forests as felled.”Source: SUMBER projections for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral. What the architects say about the lack of a crucial element
Is it possible to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral roof today replicating its original structure using the same original materials? Explain your answer.
What environmental impact did the construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral have on the environment at the time of its original construction? How did it impact the environment?
Topic: Industrial Revolution AIM: How did the advancements made during the Industrial Revolution impact the environment? The Industrial Revolution started mid-18th century in England. and has had a lasting impact on climate. These documents focus on how new industries produced new problems with pollution, problems that continue today.
Document 2: Political Cartoons
Document 3: “Fog everywhere. Fog up the river… fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollution of a great (and dirty) city.” – Charles Dickens, BLEAK HOUSE. The towns surrounding Manchester . . . re badly and irregularly built with foul courts, lanes, and back alleys, reeking of coal smoke, and especially dingy from the originally bright red brick, turned black with time. These east and north-east sides of Manchester are the only ones on which the bourgeoisie has not built, because ten or eleven months of the year the west and south-west wind drives the smoke of all the factories hither, and that the working-people alone may breathe . . . Along both sides of the stream, which is coal-black, stagnant and foul, stretches a broad belt of factories and working-men’s dwellings . . . The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions; the atmosphere is poisoned by the effluvia from these, and laden and darkened by the smoke of a dozen tall factory chimneys. – Condition of the Working Class in England, by Engels, 1845.
Document 4: “And what cities! … smoke hung over them and filth impregnated them, the elementary public services – water supply, sanitation, street-cleaning, open spaces, and so on – could not keep pace with the mass migration of men into the cities, thus producing, especially after 1830, epidemics of cholera, typhoid and an appalling constant toll of the two great groups of nineteenth century urban killers – air pollution and water pollution or respiratory and intestinal disease.” – Hobsbawm, 1969, p. 86.
What environmental effect did the Industrial Revolution have on England’s environment? Note one environmental effect from political cartoons and one from the excerpts.
What aspect of the Industrial Revolution caused these environmental effects? Explain your answer.
Explain the historical circumstances that caused the environmental effects?
Identify and explain a cause and effect relationship associated with the ideas or events in documents 1 and 2. Be sure to use evidence from both documents 1 and 2 in your response.
Topic: Climate Change and Disease Aim: How did the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia lead to a global pandemic? Natural catastrophic events like a volcanic eruption can had long term widespread consequences.
Environmental Effects “A powerful volcanic eruption in 1815 set off a chain of events, from extreme weather and crop failures to a global cholera pandemic. Mount Tambora erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. It belched millions of tonnes of rock, ash and gas in April 1815, set off a tsunami, and killed about 100,000 people in the immediate aftermath. Then, as sulphur dioxide rose with the ash into the stratosphere and circled the globe, the world was plunged into a volcanic winter that lasted three years. Crops failed in China, Europe and, eventually, America. In New York, it snowed in June. In the Alps, glaciers fingered out at unprecedented speed. Weird as it may seem, the Tambora explosion, unnoticed outside Java, not only unleashed devastating weather, destroying crops and communities around the globe. It also transformed cholera from a local nuisance in Bengal into one of the world’s most virulent and feared diseases.” Source: Relevant lessons from climate change and a global pandemic in the 19th century
“The onset of volcanic winters jeopardized global food security and had climate effects that lasted years. It created a global pandemic that lasted years and hurt the global economy.”
Rise of a New Disease “In 1817, a global cholera pandemic suddenly erupted, a “phantom agent of death that was brutal, unknowable, and potentially limitless in its reach.” From India, a newly virulent strain of cholera spread to Myanmar and Thailand in 1819 and 1820 and Iran in 1822 before reaching France in 1830 and eventually the United States in 1832.” Source: Relevant lessons from climate change and a global pandemic in the 19th century
“Drought brought on by the eruption devastated crop yields across the Indian subcontinent, but more disastrously gave rise to a new and deadly strain of cholera. Cholera had always been endemic to Bengal, but the bizarre weather of 1816–17 triggered by Tambora’s eruption—first drought, then late, unseasonal flooding—altered the microbial ecology of the Bay of Bengal. The cholera bacterium, which has an unusually adaptive genetic structure highly sensitive to changes in its aquatic environment, mutated into a new strain. This was met with no resistance among the local population, and it spread across Asia and eventually the globe. By the century’s end, the death toll from Bengal cholera stood in the tens of millions.” Source: Tambora eruption caused the year without a summer: Cholera, opium, famine, and Arctic exploration.
What climate reactions occurred as a result of the eruption of Mount Tambora?
How did the eruption of Mount Tambora cause the cholera pandemic?
How did the eruption of Mount Tambora affect the world economy
Topic: Water Resources Aim: What will the United States do when the water in the Great Plains is gone? Changing climate is affecting a vast area of the United States. The droughts and shorter growing season taking place in the Great Plains will have dire effects on the population. The main source of water in this area, the Ogallala Aquifer, is being drained and dried. The unstable climate will affect water resources and agriculture in the United States.
“The Plains are made up of a broad range of ecosystems, including forests, rangelands, marshes, and desert. Climate change related impacts, including heat waves and extreme weather events, have disproportionate effects on vulnerable groups, including young, elderly, ill, and low income populations. In the Great Plains, remotely located populations, face greater challenges in responding to climate change because of a lack of development, public health resources, and access to other public services and communication systems. Language barriers for indigenous groups can also impact the ability to respond to climate extremes.” Source: Climate Impacts in the Great Plains | US
“This is the breadbasket of America—the region that supplies at least one fifth of the total annual U.S. agricultural harvest. If the aquifer goes dry, more than $20 billion worth of food and fiber will vanish from the world’s markets. And scientists say it will take natural processes 6,000 years to refill the reservoir.” Source: The Ogallala Aquifer: Saving a Vital U.S. Water Source
Impacts on Water Resources “As patterns of temperature and precipitation change, the Great Plains region is expected to face increased competition for water supplies for use by homes, business, agriculture, and energy production. Water in this region comes largely from the High Plains Aquifer system, made up largely of the Ogallala aquifer. The High Plains Aquifer system is one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world and underlies approximately 111 million acres in parts of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Nearly 30% of all irrigated lands in the United States reside above this aquifer, making it one of the primary agricultural regions in the nation. The High Plains Aquifer also provides drinking water for more than 80% of the residents living over the aquifer and is key to the region’s energy production. Long-term declines in the water level within the High Plains Aquifer have resulted from greater water discharge than recharge. Discharge (or withdrawal) occurs largely by irrigation, which has resulted in an average water level decline of 14.2 feet since irrigation began around 1950. This translates to an 80 trillion gallon reduction in water storage within the aquifer. Recharge (or replenishing) comes primarily from precipitation. In the northern portion of the Great Plains, rain can recharge the aquifer quickly. However, with climate change, precipitation in the winter and spring is projected to increasingly fall in the form of very heavy precipitation events, which can increase flooding and runoff that reduce water quality and cause soil erosion. In the southern portion of the region, little recharge occurs, so declines in the aquifer’s water level are much greater (see figure of High Plains Aquifer). Climate change will worsen this situation by causing drier conditions and increasing the need for irrigation.”
Topic: Natural Disasters Aim: Can climate change trigger volcanic eruptions? Researchers believe record rainfall attributed to climate change triggered the 2018 Kīlauea volcano eruptions in Hawaii.
Do Now: Read about the relationship between climate change and rainfall and answer question: How does “human-caused climate change” lead to more intense rainfall? “Human-caused climate change intensifies the heaviest downpours. More than 70% of the planet’s surface is water, and as the world warms, more water evaporates from oceans, lakes, and soils. Every 1°F rise also allows the atmosphere to hold 4% more water vapor. So when weather patterns lead to heavy rain, there is even more moisture available for stronger downpours, increasing the risk and severity of flooding.“– Climate Central, https://www.climatecentral.org/news/report-pouring-it-on-climate-change-intensifies-heavy-rain-events
Instructions: Examine Document A, the abstract from a scientific report in the journal Nature, and Document B, an excerpt from a report on the study published in the British newspaper The Guardian. An important role of the press is to translate technical language into conventional speech. After reading the two documents answer the guiding questions and discuss with our team whether The Guardian report adequately explained the scientific study.
Where is the Kīlauea volcano and when did it erupt?
According to the scientific report, what triggered the eruption?
The scientific report cites “anthropogenic climate change” as a cause of the eruption. Based on context clues, what is “anthropogenic climate change”?
What other evidence is there of volcanic eruptions triggered by intense rainfall?
The headline in The Guardian article is “Record rain triggered 2018 Kīlauea volcano eruptions, says study.” In your opinion, are the headline and article an accurate summary of the scientific report?
Document A: Extreme rainfall triggered the 2018 rift eruption at Kīlauea Volcano Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586- 020-2172-5 The May 2018 rift intrusion and eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i, represented one of its most extraordinary eruptive sequences in at least 200 years, yet the trigger mechanism remains elusive. The event was preceded by several months of anomalously high precipitation. It has been proposed that rainfall can modulate shallow volcanic activity, but it remains unknown whether it can have impacts at the greater depths associated with magma transport. Here we show that immediately before and during the eruption, infiltration of rainfall into Kīlauea Volcano’s subsurface increased pore pressure at depths of 1 to 3 kilometres by 0.1 to 1 kilopascals, to its highest pressure in almost 50 years. We propose that weakening and mechanical failure of the edifice was driven by changes in pore pressure within the rift zone, prompting opportunistic dyke intrusion and ultimately facilitating the eruption. A precipitation-induced eruption trigger is consistent with the lack of precursory summit inflation, showing that this intrusion—unlike others—was not caused by the forceful intrusion of new magma into the rift zone. Moreover, statistical analysis of historic eruption occurrence suggests that rainfall patterns contribute substantially to the timing and frequency of Kīlauea’s eruptions and intrusions. Thus, volcanic activity can be modulated by extreme rainfall triggering edifice rock failure — a factor that should be considered when assessing volcanic hazards. Notably, the increasingly extreme weather patterns associated with ongoing anthropogenic climate change could increase the potential for rainfall-triggered volcanic phenomena worldwide.
Document B: Record rain triggered 2018 Kīlauea volcano eruptions, says study https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/22/record-rain-triggered-2018-kilauea-volcanoeruptions-hawaii-study The spectacular eruptions of the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii in 2018 were triggered by extreme rainfall in the preceding months, research suggests. Scientists say the finding raises the possibility that climate breakdown, which is causing more extreme weather, could lead to an increase in eruptions around the world. The 2018 Kīlauea eruptions were one of the most extraordinary sequences in at least 200 years, according to the scientists, with rifts opening, summit explosions and collapses, and a magnitude 6.9 earthquake. But the trigger was not known. However, several months of unusually high rainfall preceded the eruption, with one 24-hour period setting a record for the entire US. This flood of water would have percolated down into fissures and pores in the rocks of the volcano, as far as 1.8 miles (2.9km) below the surface. The scientists calculated this pushed up the pore pressure inside the rocks to the highest level in almost 50 years, weakening them and allowing magma to push up from below. The scientists also looked at eruptions of Kīlauea since 1790 and found that these historical events were twice as likely to happen in the rainy season. Such a link has long been thought possible – JD Dana, one of the first geologists to visit Hawaii in the late 1800s, suggested the idea. They also ruled out magma pressure from below triggering the eruption, because the surface had barely deformed, and the gravitational pull of the sun and moon, which can trigger eruptions. “All the circumstantial evidence points in the same direction,” said Jamie Farquharson, at the University of Miami, whose research is published in the journal Nature. Rain has been linked to shallow eruptions in the past, such as at Mount St Helens in 1980, but this is the first time an impact at depth has been found.
Topic: Impact of Current Climate Change Aim: How does climate change threaten the future of Kenya? Climate change severely impacts Kenya. Kenya is dealing with erratic rainfall, extreme drought, and an increase in temperatures. Kenya is in extreme need of global action to help combat the challenges climate change brings to their everyday life.
Document 1: Projections of Kenya’s Future Source: United States Agency of International Development
Document 3: Historic Climate vs. Future Climate Projections (U.S. Agency of International Development)
Document 4: Effect of all Aspects of Life (U.S. Agency of International Development
Document 5: Primary Source Information: The Children of Kenya (Source: UNICEF) “Our home was destroyed by the floods and we have nothing left. My parents cannot even afford to pay my older siblings’ school fees since we have no cows left to sell.”-Nixon Bwire, age 13, Tana River.
“Climate change is affecting us and, in the future if we are not involved, we will live in a desert. The rivers have dried up and sand mining has increased, this has caused many children to drop out of school to work loading vehicles for mines”-Samuel, age 14, Machakos
Idhila Mohammed carries her child on her back as she searches for food and water for her surviving cattle. “We had 180 cattle last year, but since the drought only 40 are left,” she said. “In the few years that I’ve been here, the climate has really changed. Temperatures have gone up. The rainfall has dropped. As time goes by, things are getting worse and worse … It rains once in three months, that’s not normal. This has led to shortage of food and water, which has led to the death of animals. People lose their livestock and other people die due to starvation and hunger.” Lourine Oyodah, age 15, Lodwar
Document 7: Documented Changes from 1967- 2012 (Source: Human Rights Watch) Between 1967 and 2012, maximum and minimum average temperatures in Turkana County, in Kenya’s northwest corner near the border with Ethiopia, rose between 2 and 3°C (3.6 to 5.4°F), according to data from the meteorological station in Turkana’s capital. Rainfall patterns seem to have changed, with the long rainy season becoming shorter and drier and the short rainy season becoming longer and wetter. Insecurity and conflict in the region are expected to get worse as grazing lands decrease.
At the same time, hydroelectric projects and irrigated sugar plantations in Ethiopia’s lower Omo River Valley threaten to vastly reduce the water levels in Lake Turkana, the world largest desert lake, and the source of livelihood for 300,000 Turkana residents. Some experts forecast that the lake may recede into two small pools, devastating fish stocks.
Document 8: Conditions in Kenya (Source: Kenya Climate Innovation) For instance, the flooding in Naivasha, Kenya after the Karati River burst its banks caused 172 fatalities, displaced 283,290 people and left 84 people with severe injuries. Government data also shows that in the Tana River alone, 150,000 people have been displaced and 16 killed due to flooding. Furthermore, flooding is related to food scarcity fueled by decreased yields. The drought has also lead to decreased power and water supply to cities in Kenya, including Nairobi. One of the areas that has negatively been impacted by climate change is agriculture, which supports 75% of Kenya’s population and contributes to 21% of the country’s GDP. Given its high reliance on rainfall, it is adversely impacted by drought. For instance, prolonged drought in 2016/2017 yielded low agricultural productivity that resulted in food prices increasing by a third.
What major changes in climate has Kenya had to deal with?
How has climate change affected Kenya?
Have climate conditions improved and are conditions projected to improve? What do the climate projections suggest?
Do the United States and other economically advanced nations have a responsibility to provide aid to Kenya? Explain.
Topic: Climate Change Impact on Sub-Sahara Desert Aim: How is climate change affecting regions bordering the Sahara Desert? Climate change in sub-Sahara arid regions has led to an increase in temperature, changes in rainfall levels, an increase in sea level, desertification, deforestation and the emergence of new diseases that will seriously impact human life, both in the area and globally.
Document 1: Climate Changes and Impacts Source: Climate change impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa: from physical changes to their social repercussions.
Document 2: Rising Sea Levels Source: Climate change impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa: from physical changes to their social repercussions
Document 3: Is Africa sleepwalking into a potential catastrophe? Source: BBC. The African continent will be hardest hit by climate change. There are four key reasons for this: First, African society is very closely coupled with the climate system; hundreds of millions of people depend on rainfall to grow their food Second, the African climate system is controlled by an extremely complex mix of large-scale weather systems, many from distant parts of the planet and, in comparison with almost all other inhabited regions, is vastly understudied. It is therefore capable of all sorts of surprises Third, the degree of expected climate change is large. The two most extensive land-based end of-century projected decreases in rainfall anywhere on the planet occur over Africa; one over North Africa and the other over southern Africa Finally, the capacity for adaptation to climate change is low; poverty equates to reduced choice at the individual level while governance generally fails to prioritize and act on climate change
Document 4: Deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa: At the end of 1990, Africa had an estimated 528 million hectares, or 30 percent of the world’s tropical forests. In several Sub-Saharan African countries, the rate of deforestation exceeded the global annual average of 0.8 percent. While deforestation in other parts of the world is mainly caused by commercial logging or cattle ranching the leading causes in Africa are associated with human activity. Developing countries rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking and heating. In Africa, the statistics are striking: an estimated 90 percent of the entire continent’s population uses fuelwood for cooking, and in SubSaharan Africa, firewood and brush supply approximately 52 percent of all energy sources. Source: African Technology Forum
Document 5: Deforestation: It is difficult to imagine that such vast ancient woodlands are at risk of extinction. But they are disappearing at an alarming rate. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), indigenous (also known as “old-growth”) forests in Africa are being cut down at a rate of more than 4 mn hectares per year — twice the world’s deforestation average. According to the FAO, losses totalled more than 10 percent of the continent’s total forest cover between 1980 and 1995 alone. Source: “Saving Africa’s Forests, ‘The Lungs of The World’ by Michael Fleshman.
Document 6: Desertification: Desertification is defined as the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by climatic variations and human activities. Simply put, desertification is the process by which fertile lands become deserts, typically because of drought, deforestation or inappropriate agriculture. Desertification affects up to 30 percent of land worldwide, and 1.5 billion people around the world depend on land at risk from desertification for their main source of food or income. Seventy-four percent of these people already live in poverty.
In sub-Saharan Africa, desertification may force up to 50 million people to flee their homes by 2020. Since 1923, the Sahara Desert has expanded by 10 percent, especially affecting people living in the Sahel region. Dryland covers 65 percent of the African continent, and 70 to 80 percent of people in Ethiopia and Kenya are threatened by desertification. Source: The Borgen Project
Document 7: Desertification:Desertification is most severe in Africa. Arid lands account for two-thirds of the African continent, and three-quarters of the continent’s drylands that are used for agriculture have already begun to lose productivity. A total of 45 percent of Africa’s population lives in drylands that are susceptible to desertification, according to the United Nations Development Program’s Drylands Population Assessment II. In Kenya, a three-year drought has withered crops and killed livestock, leaving thousands of people without adequate food supplies. Two-thirds of the country’s land has been severely affected by the drought, and over 40 percent of Kenya’s cattle and up to 20 percent of its sheep and goats have perished, according to the Arid Lands Resource Management Project, a government initiative. In neighboring Tanzania, widespread tree felling threatens to transform much of the country’s forest into desert. In early January, Vice President Omar Ali Juma called attention to the worsening problem, noting that the country is losing between 320,000 and 1.2 million acres of forest land each year to the expansion of agricultural lands and to increased demand for fuelwood. Livestock herders also contribute to the deterioration of Tanzania’s forests by moving their herds from arid areas in the north to the vegetation- and water-rich forests of the south.
What climate problems are affecting Africa?
Why are deforestation and desertification threatening the survival of sub-Saharan Africa?
How can deforestation and desertification in Africa be prevented
Topic: Pandemics Aim: How does the world’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic illustrate about the possibilities for responding to climate change? The response to the Corona Virus pandemic led to an unintended decrease in human causes of climate change.
“Levels of air pollutants and warming gases over some cities and regions are showing significant drops as coronavirus impacts work and travel.
“Traffic levels in the [New York] city were estimated to be down 35% compared with a year ago. Emissions of carbon monoxide, mainly due to cars and trucks, have fallen by around 50% for a couple of days this week according to researchers at Columbia University. They have also found that there was a 5-10% drop in CO2 over New York and a solid drop in methane as well.”
In Los Angeles, New York, Manila and Milan, the skies clear as air pollution drops. In Venice, the canal water is clear enough to see fish, and dolphins are returning. What would the world be like if we decided to pursue this trend?
What response to climate change did the coronavirus cause globally?
How did this pandemic lessen the effects of climate change?
As countries plan to restart their economies, what are some changes they should consider in light of unintended consequences of quarantine?
East Africa Confronts New Climate Change Plague Aim: How has climate change caused the worst Desert Locust in over seventy years in the Horn of Africa? Rising numbers of Desert Locusts in East Africa are a threat to food security and livelihood. Kenya is experiencing the worst Desert Locust infestation in over seventy years.
Document 1: Desert Locusts. “The eighth plague that the Judaic God launched against the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Old Testament story of Exodus was swarms of locust. The locust covered the sun and devoured everything green in the fields. This immense locust swarm is a direct result of global warming and climate change. Warming of the Indian Ocean produced record heavy rainfall in the region from October through December, accelerating the breeding and growth of the desert locust. Source: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/5/1924511/-World-Confronts-New-Climate-Change-Plagues
Document 2: Effects of Desert Locusts. “Kenya is battling its worst desert locust outbreak in 70 years, and the infestation has spread through much of the eastern part of the continent and the Horn of Africa, razing pasture and croplands in Somalia and Ethiopia and sweeping into South Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda and Tanzania. The highly mobile creatures can travel over 80 miles a day. Their swarms, which can contain as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometer, eat the same amount of food daily as about 35,000 people.” Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/world/africa/locusts-kenya-eastafrica.html?searchResultPosition=1
Document 3: “Rising numbers of Desert Locusts present an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. It is the worst outbreak of Desert Locusts seen in the region for decades. Tens of thousands of hectares of croplands and pasture have been damaged in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia with potentially severe consequences in a region where 11.9 million people are already food insecure. The potential for destruction is enormous.” Rising temperatures also mean locusts can mature more quickly and spread to higher elevation environments. Given that many locusts are adapted to arid regions, if climate change expands the geographic extent of these lands, locusts could expand their range as well. “Therefore, in general, locust outbreaks are expected to become more frequent and severe under climate change,” said Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative at Arizona State University. Source: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1258877/icode/
How has climate changed caused faster breeding and growth of Desert Locust?
How have increased swarms of Desert Locust devastated life in Kenya?
Topic: Climate Change Aim: Can the world reverse global warming? “Socratic Seminar CRQ “Task: Have students seating arranged to participate in a Socratic Seminar Using specific details from each document, students should discuss:
What is the goal of each author?
How do youth become important in affecting change?
If you had Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Greta Thunberg over for a dinner party- what would they say to each other? What would they say to you? (Think about each person’s goals, methods, areas of agreement, areas of disagreement, etc.)
Informed Action/Extension activities: Donald Trump (Republican) and Joseph Biden (Democrat) will need to present a plan to address climate change as they try to appeal to American voters. Research each candidate’s policy proposals/actions on climate change and prepare a graphic organizer to illustrate these with you class. What policy proposals and decisions do you agree with? Disagree with?
“My message is that we’ll be watching you.” “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
Who is Greta addressing in this speech? Who are “us” that Greta is referring to?
You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe. “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. “Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. “So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences. “To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons. “How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years. “There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. “You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. “We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.
Why does Greta think current climate change initiatives will fail? “And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is” What is ironic about this statement? What “change” is Greta alluding to?
Document I: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, addressed the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019. Here’s the full transcript of Thunberg’s speech, beginning with her response to a question about the message she has for world leaders.
Questions 1) In your opinion, was Greta Thunberg’s speech effective in moving young people to take action against climate change? 2) What part(s) of Greta’s speech had the strongest impact? Why? 3) Greta Thunberg was 16 years old when she delivered this speech to the United Nations. Does this fact make her speech more or less powerful? Explain.
Document 2: Statement by Martin Luther King Jr. at the Youth Leadership Conference, April 15, 1960 Background: Over two hundred student and adult activists gathered at Shaw University for an Easter weekend youth conference to discuss the growing sit-in movement. King issued this statement at a press conference on the opening day of the meeting. The following day, King addressed a mass meeting at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. During the three-day conference, youth leaders voted to create the Temporary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
This is an era of offensive on the part of oppressed people. All peoples deprived of dignity and freedom are on the march on every continent throughout the world. The student sit-in movement represents just such an offensive in the history of the Negro peoples’ struggle for freedom. The students have taken the struggle for justice into their own strong hands. In less than two months more Negro freedom fighters have revealed to the nation and the world their determination and courage than has occurred in many years. They have embraced a philosophy of mass direct nonviolent action. They are moving away from tactics which are suitable merely for gradual and long-term change.
Today the leaders of the sit-in movement are assembled here from ten states and some forty communities to evaluate these recent sit-ins and to chart future goals. They realize that they must now evolve a strategy for victory. Some elements which suggest themselves for discussion are:
1) The need for some type of continuing organization. Those who oppose justice are well organized. To win out the student movement must be organized. 2) The students must consider calling for a nation-wide campaign of “selective buying.” Such a program is a moral act. It is a moral necessity to select, to buy from these agencies, these stores, and businesses where one can buy with dignity and self-respect. It is immoral to spend one’s money where one cannot be treated with respect. 3) The students must seriously consider training a group of volunteers who will willingly go to jail rather than pay bail or fines. This courageous willingness to go to jail may well be the thing to awaken the dozing conscience of many of our white brothers. We are in an era in which a prison term for a freedom struggle is a badge of honor. 4) The youth must take the freedom struggle into every community in the South without exception. The struggle must be spread into every nook and cranny. Inevitably this broadening of the struggle and the determination which it represents will arouse vocal and vigorous support and place pressures on the federal government that will compel its intervention. 5) The students will certainly want to delve deeper into the philosophy of nonviolence. It must be made palpably clear that resistance and nonviolence are not in themselves good. There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community. The tactics of nonviolence without the spirit of nonviolence may indeed become a new kind of violence.
What was the purpose of “sit-ins” of the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement? Why was it important for students to become involved?
What is a climate strike?
What are similarities and differences between the climate strikes of today and the sit-ins of the 1960’s?
Document 3: American Antiquities Act of 1906, 16 USC 431-433 Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected. Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe. Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act. Approved, June 8, 1906. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law on June 8, 1906.
Read the following quotes from President Theodore Roosevelt. Choose one of these quotes. For this quote:
Define the historical context behind President Roosevelt’s words.
Explain and give examples of how the Antiquities Act (1906) could be used to improve the situation(s) Roosevelt brings attention to.
Quote #1: “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”
Quote #2:“But we are, as a whole, still in that low state of civilization where we do not understand that it is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals— not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening.”
Socratic Seminar CRQ “Task: Have students seating arranged to participate in a Socratic Seminar. Using specific details from each document, students should discuss: 1) What is the goal of each author? 2) How do youth become important in affecting change? If you had Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Greta Thunberg over for a dinner party what would they say to each other? What would they say to you? (Think about each person’s goals, methods, areas of agreement, areas of disagreement, etc.)
Informed Action/Extension activities: 1) Donald Trump (Republican) and Joseph Biden (Democrat) will need to present a plan to address climate change as they try to appeal to American voters. Research each candidate’s policy proposals/actions on climate change and prepare a graphic organizer to illustrate these with your class. What policy proposals and decisions do you agree with? Disagree with?
2) A great project is launching a Climate Emergency Campaign in your community. The Climate Emergency Campaign asks local governments to declare a climate emergency. Students can lobby school boards to mandate teaching how climate change threatens local communities and human civilization. In 2017, Hoboken, New Jersey was the first city in the United States and the third city in the world to declare a Climate Emergency. Hoboken is located on the Hudson River flood plain and suffered serious damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The Climate Mobilization website has a sample Climate Emergency resolution.
Editor’s Note:This is the third day of a multi-day lesson in a three-lesson sequence designed for fourth grade on slavery and New York developed by April Francis for the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Integrated Social Studies/ELA Curriculum.
Aim: How did New Yorkers challenge slavery? NYS Social Studies Framework: 4.5a: There were slaves in New York State. People worked to fight against slavery and for change; Students will investigate people who took action to abolish slavery, including Samuel Cornish, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Tubman.
Social Studies Practices: Gathering, Interpreting, and Using Evidence; Comparison and Contextualization; Geographic Reasoning; Economics and Economic Systems; Civic Participation
Next Gen. ELA Standards: o 4R6: In informational texts, compare and contrast a primary and secondary source on the same event or topic. (RI); o 4R8: Explain how claims in a text are supported by relevant reasons and evidence. (RI&RL) o 4W5: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to respond and support analysis, reflection, and research by applying grade 4 reading standards. o 4SL4: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace and volume appropriate for audience.
Learning Objectives: Identify Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, The Jerry Rescue, African Free School, and the AntiSlavery Society. Define resist and resistance.
Analyze the Underground Railroad system. Decipher and understand various primary and secondary sources. Develop individual and group presentation skills. Evaluate which form of resistance was most successful in ending slavery in NYS.
Materials: Video: Harriet Tubman (4:48 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watchv=Dv7YhVKFqbQ&feature=youtu.be o Source 1. Harriet Tubman biography o Source 2. NYS Map of the Underground Railroad o Source 3a & 3b. African Free School o Source 4. Frederick Douglass & The North Star o Source 5. Anti-Slavery Society o Source 6. The “Jerry Rescue” Syracuse, NY
Formative Task: Students will serve experts on one form of resistance used against slavery and present it as a group to the whole class.
Lesson Narrative & Procedure: In this lesson, students will be introduced to the term “resistance” and analyze various methods New Yorkers used to fight against the system of slavery. Students will be introduced to famous abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison. Through video analysis, students will understand how the secret Underground Railroad system was used to help enslaved people escape to freedom. To synthesize their learning, students will be asked to summarize the methods some New Yorkers used to resist the slave system.
Preparation for Day 1: Make copies of “Source 1: Harriet Tubman biography” and the “Circle Map” worksheet. Queue video: Harriet Tubman (4:48 minutes)
Day 1 Engage (10 minutes): The teacher should introduce the supporting question “How did some New Yorkers resist the slavery system?” by having a student read it aloud to the class. The teacher should ask students if they know what the term “resist” means. After students respond, the teacher should give an example of “resisting” and then share a definition of the term. Once students have a foundation of the term “resist” the teacher should ask students, “Based on what we have learned, why do you think some New Yorkers would want to resist the slave system?” Students should respond with examples from the previous lessons.
Explore (20 minutes): The teacher should distribute Source 1: Harriet Tubman Biography. Ask students what they know about Harriet Tubman. Students will share various answers. After students respond, the teacher can share they will participate in the read aloud. During the read aloud, students can annotate the reading. Additionally, the teacher can choose to play the animated video Harriet Tubman as a support to the reading (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWVr57o_ElU ).
Once students have finished the reading (and/or video), students share main ideas on their circle map, that answer the questions: a. How did Harriet Tubman resist the slave system? b. How did she help others? Ask, “What can this biography inform us about Harriet Tubman’s character? Do you know of anyone today that would be similar to Harriet Tubman in character?
Explain (10 minutes): After discussing Harriet Tubman, the teacher can ask students, “Based on your own knowledge and our reading today, what do you know about the Underground Railroad?” Students can share various answers. The teacher can then state, “New York State played a vital role in the Underground Railroad. Let’s investigate how the Underground Railroad worked in helping people resist the slave system.”
Elaborate (15 minutes): The teacher will have students work in pairs on the “Underground Railroad” packet. The student worksheet is located on the last page of the packet. Once students have completed the packet, the teacher can participate in a whole class review. The teacher should ensure to ask follow-up or clarifying questions when needed based on student responses.
Evaluate (10 minutes)
After review, the teacher should distribute the Exit Ticket- Day 1 to each student, asking them to respond to the question prompt: Do you think you would have been able to escape using the Underground Railroad? Explain. a. An alternative activity to the “exit ticket” is creating a Padlet board online for student responses.
Day 2 Preparation: Print Sources 2-6 and create “Stations” for student groups. Make copies of the “Resisting Slavery” Graphic Organizer Chart.
Engage (15 minutes): The teacher should reintroduce the supporting question “How did some New Yorkers resist the slavery system?” and have students complete a brainstorm of their understanding of yesterday’s lesson using the “3-2-1” method: a) 3 things they learned from yesterday’s lesson. b) 2 things they found interesting. c) 1 question they still have? After reviewing using the 3-2-1 method, the teacher can have students analyze Sources 2-6, in a group format.
The teacher can state: a. “Today we are going to analyze other ways people in New York resisted the slave system in the 1800s. We will be working in cooperative teams, using your “Resistance of Slavery in New York” chart to record your findings. Each team will be assigned one document to analyze, and then they will report on this document to the class.
i. Station 1. Source 2. NYS Map of UGRR (printed in color or viewed on a smartboard)
ii. Station 2. Source 3a & 3b. African Free School
iii. Station 3. Source 4. Frederick Douglass & The North Star
iv. Station 4. Source 5a & 5b. Anti-Slavery Society
v. Station 5. Source 6. The “Jerry Rescue” Syracuse, NY
Note: Teachers should use their knowledge of their students and assign the documents based on student levels. Documents can also be modified to meet specific needs of individual classrooms.
Explore & Explain (15 minutes). Students should analyze the document they were assigned for their group. As a group, they should fill out their portion of the Graphic Organizer – Resisting Slavery and then decide how they will present this information to the rest of the class.
Elaborate (15 minutes). After student analysis, each team should share their “expert” knowledge of the source they were assigned in a presentation format. Students can use the Source Analysis Guide-Historical Thinking Chart adapted from the Stanford Historical Education Group (SHEG) to help develop their presentation. For each group presentation, the teacher should project the source onto the Smartboard so it is visible for all students. While one group is sharing, all members should be recording key points onto their individual “Resisting Slavery” graphic organizers.
Evaluate (10 minutes). After group presentations, the teacher can distribute the Exit Ticket- Day 2 and state, “Slavery was finally banned in New York State in 1827, ‘Which method of resistance do you think was most successful in ending slavery in New York State? Why?’”
Background: (A) Harriet Tubman was born a slave. Her parents named her Araminta “Minty” Ross. She changed her name in 1849 when she escaped. She adopted the name Harriet after her mother and the last name Tubman after her husband. Tubman suffered a head injury as a teenager which gave her…sleeping spells. She was deeply religious and according to her it was her religious beliefs that gave her courage rescue friends and family over and over again. She remained illiterate [unable to read or write] for her entire life.
(B) Harriet Tubman was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad. In a decade she guided over 300 slaves to freedom; abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison thought she deserved the nickname “Moses”. She worked hard to save money to return and save more slaves. In time she built a reputation and many Underground Railroad supporters provided her with funds and shelter to support her trips.
(C) During the Civil War, Tubman served as a nurse, cook, laundress, spy and scout. After the Emancipation Proclamation she returned to Auburn where she lived the rest of her life. She opened her doors to those in need. With donations and the money from her vegetable garden she was able to support herself and those she helped. She raised money to open schools for African Americans and gave speeches on Women’s rights. Her dream was to build a home for the elderly and in 1908 the Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly was created.
Source 2. Underground Railroad Routes in New York State The Underground Railroad was a connection of people helping enslaved people escape from slavery in the early and mid19th century. It included free blacks, whites, church people, and abolitionists. Enslaved Africans traveled to freedom by any means available, using homes as stops, songs, and secret codes. This map shows escape routes used by runaways when traveling through New York State.
Source 3a. New York African Free School Right after the American Revolution, the New York Manumission Society was created. It worked to end the slave trade around the world and to achieve the abolition of slavery in the new county. It established the African Free School in New York City, the first education organization for Black Americans in North America. It served both free blacks and the children of enslaved people.
Source 3b.African Free School Student Award for Edward T. Haines Source: https://www.nyhistory.org/web/africanfreeschool Edward T. Haines proudly displays his handwriting skill and his title as assistant monitor general, a position that carried significant responsibilities. The 1820 U.S. census lists an African American ‘Hains’ family with a boy Edward’s age living in New York City’s Fifth Ward, a west-side neighborhood south of Canal Street that was the home of many free people of color in New York City.
Source 5a – Anti-Slavery Society William Lloyd Garrison was born December 10, 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1830 he started an abolitionist paper, The Liberator. In 1832 he helped form the New England Anti-Slavery Society When the Civil War broke out, he continued to speak against the Constitution as a pro-slavery document. When the civil war ended, he at last saw the abolition of slavery. He died May 24, 1879 in New York City. Source: www.biography.com
Source 5b – Anti-Slavery Society Gerrit Smith founded the New York State Anti-slavery Society in Peterboro, New York in 1835.
This monument, added to Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY in 2001, celebrates the October 1, 1851, rescue of William “Jerry” Henry, an escaped slave from Missouri. Henry had been arrested in Syracuse and since he was an escaped slave; law officers were eager to follow the Fugitive Slave Act and wanted to return him to Missouri. The Fugitive Slave Act was a United States law that said runaways, even in free states, had to be returned to their masters. Henry was arrested the same day an abolitionist meeting was taking place in the city. A large group of fifty-two men stormed a police station, pounded on down its doors, and rescued “Jerry” Henry. Within a few days, “Jerry” escaped to freedom in Kingston, Ontario. The “Jerry Rescue” itself was organized by area abolitionist leaders.
How did some New Yorkers resist the slave system? Directions: Use this chart to organize your information for each document.
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century and used by African American enslaved people to escape into free states, Canada and Nova Scotia with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. It is believed that around 100,000 runaways between 1810 and 1860 escaped using the network. The majority of the runaways came from the upper south states that bordered free states such as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland.
The Underground Railroad was not located underground, and it was not a railroad. It was symbolically underground as the network’s activities were secret and illegal, so they had to remain “underground” to help fugitive slaves stay out of sight. The term “railroad” was used because the railroad was a system of transportation and its supporters used railroad code to communicate in secret language. Runaways used songs called spirituals to communicate with each other. Homes where fugitives (runaways) would stay and eat were called “stations” or “depots” the owner of the house was the “station master” and the “conductor” was the person responsible to move slaves from station to station. Those financing the Underground Railroad by donating money, food, and clothing were called “stockholders”.
Codes and Songs of the Underground Railroad Supporters of the Underground Railroad used words railroad conductors employed every day to create their own code as secret language in order to help slaves escape. Below are a sample of some of the words used:
Songs were used in everyday life by enslaved African Americans. Singing was a tradition brought from Africa by the first enslaved people; sometimes their songs are called spirituals. Singing served many purposes such as providing a rhythm for manual work, inspiration and motivation. Singing was also used to express their values and solidarity with each other and during celebrations. Songs were used as tools to remember and communicate since the majority of enslaved African Americans could not read. Harriet Tubman and others used songs as a strategy to communicate their struggle for freedom. Coded songs contained words giving directions on how to escape also known as signal songs or where to meet known as map songs.
When the Sun comes back And the first quail calls Follow the Drinking Gourd. For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom if you follow the Drinking Gourd. The riverbank makes a very good road. The dead trees will show you the way. Left foot, peg foot, traveling on, Follow the Drinking Gourd. The river ends between two hills Follow the Drinking Gourd. For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom if you follow the Drinking Gourd.
This song suggests escaping in the spring as the days get longer. The drinking gourd is a water dipper which is a code name for the constellation Big Dipper which points to the Pole Star towards the north. Moss grows on the north side of dead trees, so if the Big Dipper is not visible, dead trees will guide them north.
Why do you think it was known as the Underground Railroad??
Why do you think runaways were called fugitives?
What role did songs play in the Underground Railroad?
What are some of the symbols in the song and what do they refer to?
This dramatization designed for classrooms explores the lives and words of freedom-seekers from New York and the South and Black abolitionist who fought to end slavery in the United States. Each speaker is a real historic figure and addresses the audience in his or her own words.
Background: The Dutch West India Company (WIC) founded New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1624. The name was changed to New York in honor of the Duke of York after Great Britain took control over the small settlement in 1664. The Duke of York was the younger brother of the King of England and a future king himself. He was also the head of the Royal African Company, which was engaged in the transAtlantic slave trade. Many enslaved Africans were branded with the letters RAC, the company’s initials, or DY, which stood for Duke of York.
The first eleven enslaved Africans were brought to New Amsterdam in 1626 to work for the WIC. The first slave auction in what would become New York City was probably held in 1655. The city Common Council established the Wall Street slave market in 1711. The last enslaved Africans in New York were freed on July 4, 1827, which meant slavery existed in New Amsterdam/New York for over 200 years, which is longer than there has been freedom in the city.
This play introduces African Americans, some born enslaved and some born free, who helped transform New York City and state into a center of resistance to slavery. It also tells about the ugly truth of slavery in New Amsterdam and New York. Each of the speakers in this play is a real historical figure and the words that they utter are from their speeches and writing or from contemporary newspaper accounts.
The play opens with a petition from Emanuel and Reytory Pieterson. They were free Blacks in colonial New Amsterdam. In 1661, they petitioned the Dutch government to recognize that their adopted son, eighteen-year old Anthony van Angola, was a free man because his parents were free when he was born and he was raised by free people.
Venture Smith was born in Africa, kidnapped, sold into slavery, and transported, first to Barbados, and then Fisher’s Island off the east coast of Long Island. In a memoir, published in 1796, Smith described brutal treatment while enslaved. Jupiter Hammon was the first Black poet published in the United States. Austin Steward was brought as a slave from Virginia to upstate New York where he secured his freedom and established himself as a merchant. Peter Williams, Jr. was an Episcopal priest who organized the St. Philip’s African Church in New York City. Thomas James was born a slave in Canajoharie, New York and later became an important figure in the AME church. John B. Russwurm published the first African American newspaper in the United States. William Hamilton was co-founder of the New York African Society for Mutual Relief. James McCune Smith was the first African American to obtain a medical degree. David Ruggles was a founder and secretary of the New York Committee of Vigilance.
Samuel Ringgold Ward’s family escaped enslavement in Maryland when he was a child. He became an abolitionist, newspaper editor, and Congregationalist minister. Henry Highland Garnet also escaped to the freedom with his family when he was a child and he became one of the most radical Black abolitionists. Solomon Northup was a free Black man in upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. After twelve years of enslavement he was able to contact his family and secured his freedom. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, Frederick Douglass became a leading abolitionist orator and newspaper editor. Jermain Loguen was an abolitionist, teacher, minister and Underground Railroad “station master” in Syracuse.
After gaining her freedom when New York State abolished slavery, Isabella Bomfree became Sojourner Truth, an itinerant minister and abolitionist and feminist speaker. Harriet Jacobs wrote about her life enslaved in North Carolina and the discrimination suffered by free Blacks in the North. James Pennington opposed segregation in New York and championed education for African American children. Elizabeth Jennings was a free woman of color who challenged segregation on New York City street cars. William Wells Brown, a former freedom-seeker, worked as a steamboatman on Lake Erie helping other freedom-seekers escape to Canada. Harriet Tubman was the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a writer and an activist for African Americans and woman.
New York’s African Americans Demand Freedom
1. Reytory Pieterson: Reytory and Emanuel Pieterson were free Blacks in colonial New Amsterdam. In 1661 they petitioned the Dutch government to recognize that eighteen-year old Anthony van Angola, who they raised after the death of his parents, was born free and should legally be recognized as a free man.
Reytory, in the year 1643, on the third of August, stood as godparent or witness at the Christian baptism of a little son of one Anthony van Angola, begotten with his own wife named Louise, the which aforementioned Anthony and Louise were both free Negroes; and about four weeks thereafter the aforementioned Louise came to depart this world, leaving behind the aforementioned little son named Anthony, the which child your petitioner out of Christian affection took to herself, and with the fruits of her hands’ bitter toil she reared him as her own child, and up to the present supported him, taking all motherly solicitude and care for him . . .Your petitioners….very respectfully address themselves to you, noble and right honorable lords, humbly begging that your noble honors consent to grant a stamp in this margin of this document . . . declaring] that he himself, being of free parents, reared and brought up without burden or expense of the West Indian Company . . . may be declared by your noble honors to be a free person.
2. Venture Smith: Venture Smith was born in Africa, kidnapped, sold into slavery, and transported, first to Barbados and then Fisher’s Island off the east coast of Long Island. When he was twenty-two years old, Smith married and attempted to escape from bondage. He eventually surrendered to his master, but was permitted to earn money to purchase his freedom and the freedom of his family. He published his memoirs in 1796.
My master having set me off my business to perform that day and then left me to perform it, his son came up to me in the course of the day, big with authority, and commanded me very arrogantly to quit my present business and go directly about what he should order me. I replied to him that my master had given me so much to perform that day, and that I must faithfully complete it in that time. He then broke out into a great rage, snatched a pitchfork and went to lay me over the head therewith, but I as soon got another and defended myself with it, or otherwise he might have murdered me in his outrage. He immediately called some people who were within hearing at work for him, and ordered them to take his hair rope and come and bind me with it. They all tried to bind me, but in vain, though there were three assistants in number. I recovered my temper, voluntarily caused myself to be bound by the same men who tried in vain before, and carried before my young master, that he might do what he pleased with me. He took me to a gallows made for the purpose of hanging cattle on, and suspended me on it. I was released and went to work after hanging on the gallows about an hour.
3. Jupiter Hammon:Jupiter Hammon, who was enslaved on Long Island, was the first Black poet published in the United States. He addressed this statement to the African population of New York in 1786, soon after national independence.
Liberty is a great thing, and worth seeking for, if we can get it honestly, and by our good conduct, prevail on our masters to set us free. That liberty is a great thing we may know from our own feelings, and we may likewise judge so from the conduct of the white people, in the late war. How much money has been spent, and how many lives have been lost, to defend their liberty. I must say that I have hoped that God would open their eyes, when they were so much engaged for liberty, to think of the state of the poor blacks, and to pity us.
4. Austin Steward: Austin Steward was born in 1793 in Prince William County, Virginia. As a youth, he was brought to upstate New York where he eventually secured his freedom and established himself as a merchant in Rochester.
We traveled northward, through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and a portion of New York, to Sodus Bay, where we halted for some time. We made about twenty miles per day, camping out every night, and reached that place after a march of twenty days. Every morning the overseer called the roll, when every slave must answer to his or her name, felling to the ground with his cowhide, any delinquent who failed to speak out in quick time.
After the roll had been called, and our scanty breakfast eaten, we marched on again, our company presenting the appearance of some numerous caravan crossing the desert of Sahara. When we pitched our tents for the night, the slaves must immediately set about cooking not their supper only, but their breakfast, so as to be ready to start early the next morning, when the tents were struck; and we proceeded on our journey in this way to the end . . . My master . . . hired me out to a man by the name of Joseph Robinson . . . He was . . .tyrannical and cruel to those in his employ; and having hired me as a “slave boy,” he appeared to feel at full liberty to wreak his brutal passion on me at any time, whether I deserved rebuke or not; . . . he would frequently draw from the cart-tongue a heavy iron pin, and beat me over the head with it, so unmercifully that he frequently sent the blood flowing over my scanty apparel, and from that to the ground, before he could feel satisfied.
5. Peter Williams, Jr.: Reverend Peter Williams, Jr. was an Episcopal priest who organized the St. Philip’s African Church in New York City. In 1808, Williams delivered this prayer commemorating the outlawing of the trans-Atlantic slave trade by the United States.
Oh, God! we thank thee, that thou didst condescend to listen to the cries of Africa’s wretched sons; and that thou didst interfere in their behalf. At thy call humanity sprang forth, and espoused the cause of the oppressed; one hand she employed in drawing from their vitals the deadly arrows of injustice; and the other in holding a shield, to defend them from fresh assaults; and at that illustrious moment, when the sons of 76 pronounced these United States free and independent; when the spirit of patriotism, erected a temple sacred to liberty; when the inspired voice of Americans first uttered those noble sentiments, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; and when the bleeding African, lifting his fetters, exclaimed, “am I not a man and a brother”; then with redoubled efforts, the angel of humanity strove to restore to the African race, the inherent rights of man. . . . May the time speedily commence, when Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands; when the sun of liberty shall beam resplendent on the whole African race; and its genial influences, promote the luxuriant growth of knowledge and virtue.
6. Thomas James: Reverend Thomas James was born enslaved in Canajoharie, New York. When he was eight years-old, James was separated from his mother, brother and sister when they were sold away to another owner. He escaped from slavery when he was seventeen. He later became an important figure in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
While I was still in the seventeenth year of my age, Master Kimball was killed in a runaway accident; and at the administrator’s sale I was sold with the rest of the property . . .My new master had owned me but a few months when he sold me, or rather traded me, . . . in exchange for a yoke of steers, a colt and some additional property. I remained with Master Hess from March until June of the same year, when I ran away. My master had worked me hard, and at last undertook to whip me. This led me to seek escape from slavery. I arose in the night, and taking the newly staked line of the Erie canal for my route, traveled along it westward until, about a week later, I reached the village of Lockport. No one had stopped me in my flight. Men were at work digging the new canal at many points, but they never troubled themselves even to question me. I slept in barns at night and begged food at farmers’ houses along my route. At Lockport a colored man showed me the way to the Canadian border. I crossed the Niagara at Youngstown on the ferry-boat, and was free!
7. John B. Russwurm: Freedom’s Journal was the first African American newspaper published in the United States. It was founded and edited by Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm in New York City in 1827. Its editorials stressed the fight against slavery and racial discrimination.
We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations, in things which concern us dearly, though in the estimation of some mere trifles; for though there are many in society who exercise towards us benevolent feelings; still (with sorrow we confess it) there are others who make it their business to enlarge upon the least trifle, which tends to the discredit of any person of color; and pronounce anathemas and denounce our whole body for the misconduct of this guilty one . . . Education being an object of the highest importance to the welfare of society, we shall endeavor to present just and adequate views of it, and to urge upon our brethren the necessity and expediency of training their children, while young, to habits of industry, and thus forming them for becoming useful members of society . . . The civil rights of a people being of the greatest value, it shall ever be our duty to vindicate our brethren, when oppressed; and to lay the case before the public. We shall also urge upon our brethren, (who are qualified by the laws of the different states) the expediency of using their elective franchise.
8. William Hamilton: William Hamilton was a carpenter and co-founder of the New York African Society for Mutual Relief. On July 4, 1827 he delivered an Emancipation Day Address celebrating the end of slavery in New York State.
“LIBERTY! kind goddess! brightest of the heavenly deities that guide the affairs or men. Oh Liberty! where thou art resisted and irritated, thou art terrible as the raging sea and dreadful as a tornado. But where thou art listened to and obeyed, thou art gentle as the purling stream that meanders through the mead; as soft and as cheerful as the zephyrs that dance upon the summers breeze, and as bounteous as autumn’s harvest. To thee, the sons of Africa, in this once dark, gloomy, hopeless, but now fairest, brightest, and most cheerful of thy domain, do owe a double obligation of gratitude. Thou hast entwined and bound fast the cruel hands of oppression – thou hast by the powerful charm of reason deprived the monster of his strength – he dies, he sinks to rise no more. Thou hast loosened the hard bound fetters by which we were held. And by a voice sweet as the music of heaven, yet strong and powerful, reaching to the extreme boundaries of the state of New-York, hath declared that we the people of color, the sons of Africa, are free.”
9. James McCune Smith: Dr. James McCune Smith was an African American physician who studied medicine in Glasgow, Scotland. Here he describes a manumission day parade in New York that he attended as a youth.
A splendid looking black man, mounted on a milk-white steed, then his aids on horseback, dashing up and down the line; then the orator of the day, also mounted, with a handsome scroll, appearing like a baton in his right hand, then in due order, splendidly dressed in scarfs of silk with gold-edgings, and with colored bands of music and their banners appropriately lettered and painted, followed, the New York African Society for Mutual Relief, the Wilberforce Benevolent Society, and the Clarkson Benevolent Society; then the people five or six abreast from grown men to small boys. The sidewalks were crowded with wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of the celebrants, representing every state in the Union, and not a few with gay bandanna handkerchiefs, betraying their West Indian birth. Nor was Africa underrepresented. Hundreds who survived the middle passage and a youth in slavery joined in the joyful procession.
10. David Ruggles: David Ruggles was born free in Norwich, Connecticut in 1810. He moved to New York City in 1827 where he was a founder and secretary of the New York Committee of Vigilance which aided hundreds of fugitive slaves. He also founded the city’s first Black bookstore, was a noted abolitionist lecturer, published a newspaper, and ran a boarding house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. In 1838, he provided safe-haven in his home for a freedom-seeker named Frederick Bailey who later changed his name to Frederick Douglass.
The whites have robbed us for centuries – they made Africa bleed rivers of blood! – they have torn husbands from their wives – wives from their husbands – parents from their children – children from their parents – brothers from their sisters – sisters from their brothers, and bound them in chains – forced them into holds of vessels – subjected them to the most unmerciful tortures: starved and murdered, and doomed them to endure the horrors of slavery. . . . But why is it that it seems to you so “repugnant” to marry your sons and daughters to colored persons? Simply because public opinion is against it. Nature teaches no such “repugnance,” but experience has taught me that education only does. Do children feel and exercise that prejudice towards colored persons? Do not colored and white children play together promiscuously until the white is taught to despise the colored?
11. Samuel Ringgold Ward: Samuel Ringgold Ward’s family escaped enslavement in Maryland when he was a child. He became an abolitionist, newspaper editor, and Congregationalist minister. He was forced to flee the United States in 1851 because of his involvement in anti-slavery activity in Syracuse.
I was born on the 17th October, 1817, in that part of the State of Maryland, commonly called the Eastern Shore. My parents were slaves. I was born a slave. They escaped, and took their then only child with them . . . I grew up, in the State of New Jersey, where my parents lived till I was nine years old, and in the State of New York, where we lived for many years. My parents were always in danger of being arrested and re-enslaved. To avoid this, among their measures of caution, was the keeping of their children quite ignorant of their birthplace, and of their condition, whether free or slave, when born.
12. Solomon Northup: Solomon Northup was a free Black man in upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. After twelve years of enslavement he was able to contact his family and secured his freedom. His memoir remains a powerful indictment of the slave system.
My ancestors on the paternal side were slaves in Rhode Island. They belonged to a family by the name of Northup, one of whom, removing to the State of New York, settled at Hoosic, in Rensselaer county. He brought with him Mintus Northup, my father. On the death of this gentleman, which must have occurred some fifty years ago, my father became free, having been emancipated by a direction in his will.. . . Though born a slave, and laboring under the disadvantages to which my unfortunate race is subjected, my father was a man respected for his industry and integrity, as many now living, who well remember him, are ready to testify. His whole life was passed in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, never seeking employment in those more menial positions, which seem to be especially allotted to the children of Africa. Besides giving us an education surpassing that ordinarily bestowed upon children in our condition, he acquired, by his diligence and economy, a sufficient property qualification to entitle him to the right of suffrage . . . Up to this period I had been principally engaged with my father in the labors of the farm. The leisure hours allowed me were generally either employed over my books, or playing on the violin – an amusement which was the ruling passion of my youth.
13. Henry Highland Garnet: Henry Highland Garnet escaped to freedom with his family when he was a child and became a Presbyterian minister in Troy and New York City. At the 1843 National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York, Garnet called on enslaved Africans to revolt against their masters.
Let your motto be resistance! It is in your power so to torment the God-cursed slave-holders, that they will be glad to let you go free. If the scale was turned, and black men were the masters and white men the slaves, every destructive agent and element would be employed to lay the oppressor low. Danger and death would hang over their heads day and night. Yes, the tyrants would meet with plagues more terrible than those of Pharaoh. But you are a patient people. You act as though you were made for the special use of these devils. You act as though your daughters were born to pamper the lusts of your masters and overseers. And worse than all, you tamely submit while your lords tear your wives from your embraces and defile them before your eyes. In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake; millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. Trust in the living God. Labor for the peace of the human race, and remember that you are four millions.
14. Frederick Douglass: Frederick Washington Bailey was born in Maryland in 1817. He was the son of a White man and an enslaved African woman so he was legally a slave. As a boy he was taught to read in violation of state law. In 1838, he escaped to New York City where he married and changed his name to Frederick Douglass. In 1847, Frederick Douglass started an anti-slavery newspaper in Rochester, New York.
“We solemnly dedicate the ‘North Star’ to the cause of our long oppressed and plundered fellow countrymen. May God bless the undertaking to your good. It shall fearlessly assert your rights, faithfully proclaim your wrongs, and earnestly demand for you instant and even-handed justice. Giving no quarter to slavery at the South, it will hold no truce with oppressors at the North. While it shall boldly advocate emancipation for our enslaved brethren, it will omit no opportunity to gain for the nominally free complete enfranchisement. Every effort to injure or degrade you or your cause . . . shall find in it a constant, unswerving and inflexible foe . . .”
15. Frederick Douglass: In 1852 Frederick Douglass delivered a Fourth of July speech in Rochester where he demanded to know, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
“What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? . . . Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence given by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn . . . What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality . . . There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”
16. Frederick Douglass: In a January 1864 speech at Cooper Union in New York City, Frederick Douglass laid out his vision for the future of the country.
What we now want is a country—a free country—a country not saddened by the footprints of a single slave—and nowhere cursed by the presence of a slaveholder. We want a country which shall not brand the Declaration of Independence as a lie. We want a country whose fundamental institutions we can proudly defend before the highest intelligence and civilization of the age . . . We now want a country in which the obligations of patriotism shall not conflict with fidelity to justice and liberty . . . WE want a country . . . where no man may be imprisoned or flogged or sold for learning to read, or teaching a fellow mortal how to read . . . Liberty for all, chains for none; the black man a soldier in war, a laborer in peace; a voter at the South as well as at the North; America his permanent home, and all Americans his fellow countrymen. Such, fellow citizens, is my idea of the mission of the war. If accomplished, our glory as a nation will be complete, our peace will flow like a river, and our foundation will be the everlasting rocks.
17. Jermain Loguen: Jermain Loguen escaped from slavery in Tennessee when he was 21. Once free, Loguen became an abolitionist, teacher and minister. In 1841, he moved to Syracuse, where as the “station master” of the local underground railroad “depot,” he helped over one thousand “fugitives” escape to Canada. In 1850, Reverend Loguen denounced the Fugitive Slave Law.
I was a slave; I knew the dangers I was exposed to. I had made up my mind as to the course I was to take. On that score I needed no counsel, nor did the colored citizens generally. They had taken their stand-they would not be taken back to slavery. If to shoot down their assailants should forfeit their lives, such result was the least of the evil. They will have their liberties or die in their defense. I don’t respect this law – I don’t fear it – I won’t obey it! It outlaws me, and I outlaw it, and the men who attempt to enforce it on me. I place the governmental officials on the ground that they place me. I will not live a slave, and if force is employed to re-enslave me, I shall make preparations to meet the crisis as becomes a man. If you will stand by me and I believe you will do it, for your freedom and honor are involved as well as mine, . . . you will be the saviors of your country. Your decision tonight in favor of resistance will give vent to the spirit of liberty, and will break the bands of party, and shout for joy all over the North. Your example only is needed to be the type of public action in Auburn, and Rochester, and Utica, and Buffalo, and all the West, and eventually in the Atlantic cities. Heaven knows that this act of noble daring will break out somewhere – and may God grant that Syracuse be the honored spot, whence it shall send an earthquake voice through the land!
18. Sojourner Truth: Sojourner Truth, whose original name was Isabella Bomfree, was born and enslaved near Kingston, New York. After gaining her freedom she became an itinerant preacher who campaigned for abolition and woman’s rights. During the Civil War, Truth urged young men to enlist and organized supplies for black troops. After the war, she worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau, helping people find jobs and build new lives. Her most famous speech was delivered in 1851 at a women’s rights convention in Ohio.
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? . . . That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
19. Harriet Jacobs: Harriet Jacobs was born enslaved in North Carolina in 1813. After hiding in an attic for seven years, she escaped to the north in
She published her memoir in 1861 using the pseudonym Linda Brent. In 1853, Jacobs wrote a Letter from a Fugitive Slave that was published in the New York Daily Tribune.
I was born a slave, reared in the Southern hot-bed until I was the mother of two children, sold at the early age of two and four years old. I have been hunted through all of the Northern States . . . My mother was dragged to jail, there remained twenty-five days, with Negro traders to come in as they liked to examine her, as she was offered for sale. My sister was told that she must yield, or never expect to see her mother again . . . That child gave herself up to her master’s bidding, to save one that was dearer to her than life itself . . . At fifteen, my sister held to her bosom an innocent offspring of her guilt and misery. In this way she dragged a miserable existence of two years, between the fires of her mistress’s jealousy and her master’s brutal passion. At seventeen, she gave birth to another helpless infant, heir to all the evils of slavery. Thus life and its sufferings was meted out to her until her twenty-first year. Sorrow and suffering has made its ravages upon her – she was less the object to be desired by the fiend who had crushed her to the earth; and as her children grew, they bore too strong a resemblance to him who desired to give them no other inheritance save Chains and Handcuffs . . . those two helpless children were the sons of one of your sainted Members in Congress; that agonized mother, his victim and slave.
20. James Pennington: James Pennington was born into slavery on the coast of Maryland and escaped in 1828. He challenged segregation and championed education for African Americans. He authored the first account of African Americans used in schools, A Text Book of the Origin and History of Colored People.
There is one sin that slavery committed against me, which I never can forgive. It robbed me of my education; the injury is irreparable; I feel the embarrassment more seriously now than I ever did before. It cost me two years’ hard labour, after I fled, to unshackle my mind; it was three years before I had purged my language of slavery’s idioms; it was four years before I had thrown off the crouching aspect of slavery; and now the evil that besets me is a great lack of that general information, the foundation of which is most effectually laid in that part of life which I served as a slave. When I consider how much now, more than ever, depends upon sound and thorough education among coloured men, I am grievously overwhelmed with a sense of my deficiency, and more especially as I can never hope now to make it up.
21. Elizabeth Jennings: In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings, a free woman of color, was thrown off a street car in New York City. The New York Tribune printed “Outrage Upon Colored Persons” where she told her story.
I held up my hand to the driver and he stopped the cars. We got on the platform, when the conductor told us to wait for the next car. I told him I could not wait, as I was in a hurry to go to church. He then told me that the other car had my people in it, that it was appropriated for that purpose . . . He insisted upon my getting off the car, but I did not get off . . . I told him not to lay his hands on me. I took hold of the window sash and held on. He pulled me until he broke my grasp and I took hold of his coat and held onto that. He ordered the driver to fasten his horses, which he did, and come and help him put me out of the car. They then both seized hold of me by the arms and pulled and dragged me flat down on the bottom of the platform, so that my feet hung one way and my head the other, nearly on the ground. I screamed murder with all my voice, and my companion screamed out “you’ll kill her. Don’t kill her.” . . . They got an officer on the corner of Walker and Bowery, whom the conductor told that his orders from the agent were to admit colored persons if the passengers did not object, but if they did, not to let them ride . . . Then the officer, without listening to anything I had to say, thrust me out, and then pushed me, and tauntingly told me to get redress [damages] if I could.
22. William Wells Brown: William Wells Brown was born on a plantation near Lexington, Kentucky in 1814 and escaped to Ohio in 1834. He moved to New York State in the 1840, and he began lecturing for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society and worked as a steam boatman, which enabled him to assist freedom-seekers on the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he demanded that Blacks be allowed to serve in the Union Army.
Mr. President, I think that the present contest has shown clearly that the fidelity of the black people of this country to the cause of freedom is enough to put to shame every white man in the land who would think of driving us out of the country, provided freedom shall be proclaimed. I remember well, when Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation went forth, calling for the first 75,000 men, that among the first to respond to that call were the colored men . . . Although the colored men in many of the free States were disfranchised, abused, taxed without representation, their children turned out of the schools, nevertheless, they, went on, determined to try to discharge their duty to the country, and to save it from the tyrannical power of the slaveholders of the South . . . The black man welcomes your armies and your fleets, takes care of your sick, is ready to do anything, from cooking up to shouldering a musket; and yet these would-be patriots and professed lovers of the land talk about driving the Negro out!
23. Harriet Tubman: Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery in Maryland as a young woman, was the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She served in the Civil War as a scout, nurse, and guerilla fighter. On October 22, 1865, Harriet Tubman spoke before a massive audience at the Bridge Street AME Church in Brooklyn.
Last evening an immense congregation, fully half consisting of whites, was presented at the African M.E. Church in Bridge street, to listen to the story of the experiences of Mrs. Harriet Tubman, known as the South Carolina Scout and nurse, as related by herself . . . Mrs. Tubman is a colored lady, of 35 or 40 years of age; she appeared before those present with a wounded hand in a bandage, which would she stated was caused by maltreatment received at the hands of a conductor on the Camden and Amboy railroad, on her trip from Philadelphia to New York, a few days since. Her words were in the peculiar plantation dialect and at times were not intelligible to the white portion of her audience . . . She was born, she said, in the eastern portion of the State of Maryland, and wanted it to be distinctly understood that she was not educated, nor did she receive any “broughten up”. . . She knew that God had directed her to perform other works in this world, and so she escaped from bondage. This was nearly 14 years ago, since then she has assisted hundreds to do the same.
24. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: In May 1866, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a leading African American poet, lecturer and civil right activist, addressed the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in New York.
Born of a race whose inheritance has been outrage and wrong, most of my life had been spent in battling against those wrongs . . . We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul. You tried that in the case of the Negro. You pressed him down for two centuries; and in so doing you crippled the moral strength and paralyzed the spiritual energies of the white men of the country. When the hands of the black were fettered, white men were deprived of the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press. Society cannot afford to neglect the enlightenment of any class of its members . . . This grand and glorious revolution which has commenced, will fail to reach its climax of success, until throughout the length and breadth of the American Republic, the nation shall be so color-blind, as to know no man by the color of his skin or the curl of his hair. It will then have no privileged class, trampling upon outraging the unprivileged classes, but will be then one great privileged nation, whose privilege will be to produce the loftiest manhood and womanhood that humanity can attain.
by Kameelah Rasheed and Tim Lent for New Visions for Public Schools
The New Visions Social Studies Curriculum (https://curriculum.newvisions.org/social-studies/) is a free online resource that includes full-course instructional materials in Global History I, II, and US History. It integrates rich primary and secondary texts, maps, images, videos, and other reputable online sources into materials that meet the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework’s objectives and provide students an opportunity to improve literacy skills by focusing on thinking critically while reading, writing, and speaking like historians. We understand that teachers may use resources differently, so we have created and curated high-quality Open Educational Resource (OER) materials as Google Docs; we encourage teachers to make their own copies of resources and thoughtfully modify them to make them useful for their individual needs.
Document Investigation Directions: For each document, complete the prompts below.
Document B:The Crime of the Congo is a 1909 book by British writer and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) about life for Africans in the Congo Free State under the rule of the King of the Belgians, Leopold II. Source: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Crime of the Congo, Double Day, Page, 1909. There are many of us in England who consider the crime which has been wrought in the Congo lands by King Leopold of Belgium and his followers to be the greatest which has ever been known in human annals. […] There have been massacres of populations like that of the South Americans by the Spaniards […] I am convinced that the reason why public opinion has not been more sensitive upon the question of the Congo Free State, is that the terrible story has not been brought thoroughly home to the people […] Should he, after reading it, desire to help in the work of forcing this question to the front, he can do so in several ways. He can join the Congo Reform Association (Granville House, Arundel Street, W. C). He can write to his local member and aid in getting up local meetings to ventilate the question. Finally, he can pass this book on and purchase other copies, for any profits will be used in setting the facts before the French and German public […] Mr. Murphy [an American missionary] says: “The rubber question is accountable for most of the horrors perpetrated in the Congo. It has reduced the people to a state of utter despair. Each town in the district is forced to bring a certain quantity to the headquarters of the Commissary every Sunday. It is collected by force; the soldiers drive the people into the bush; if they will not go they are shot down, their left hands being cut off and taken as trophies to the Commissary. The soldiers do not care whom they shoot down, and they most often shoot poor, helpless women and harmless children. These hands — the hands of men, women and children — are placed in rows before the Commissary, who counts them to see the soldiers have not wasted the cartridges. The Commissary is paid a commission of about a penny per pound upon all the rubber he gets; it is, therefore, to his interest to get as much as he can.”
Document C:King Leopold’s Soliloquy is a pamphlet written by Mark Twain (1835-1910) regarding Belgian King’s rule of the Congo Free State. It is a satirical and fictional monologue of Leopold II speaking in his own defense. Source: Mark Twain, King Leopold’s Soliloquy, Boston: The P. R. Warren Co., 1905, Second Edition. “But enough of trying to tally off his crimes! His list is interminable, we should never get to the end of it. His awful shadow lies across his Congo Free State, and under it is an unoffending nation of 15,000,000 is withering away and swiftly succumbing of their miseries. It is a land of graves; it is The Land of Graves; it is the Congo Free Graveyard. It is a majestic thought: that this, this ghastliest episode in all human history is the work of man alone; one solitary man; just a single individual–Leopold, King of the Belgians. He is personally and solely responsible for all the myriad crimes that have blackened the history of the Congo State. He is the sole master there; he is absolute. He could have prevented the crimes by his mere command; he could stop them today with a word. He withholds the word. For his pocker’s sake. […] it is a mystery, but we do not wish to look; for he is king, and it hurts us, it troubles us, by ancient and inherited instinct to shame us to see a king degraded to this aspect, and we shrink from hearing the particulars of how it happened. We shudder and turn away when we come upon them in print.”
Document D:Alice Seeley Harris was a missionary and documentary photographer. Her photos of the Congo were used in lantern lectures presented by the Congo Reform Association in the UK, Europe and America. Seeley Harris used one of the world’s first portable cameras, a Kodak Brownie to document the Congo Free State under the rule of King Leopold II. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Document E: In 1907, a Brussels-based publishing house published An Answer to Mark Twain, a 47-page book written in English in response to Mark Twain’s King Leopold’s Soliloquy (1905). Its author is unknown. Source: An Answer to Mark Twain, Brussels : A. & G. Bulens Bros., 1907. Two years ago, an infamous libel against the Congo State was published in America under the title of “King Leopold’s Soliloquy” […] According to this book, all the Belgians who are in the Congo under the direction of their King, are nothing but vile murderers shedding the blood of the natives in order to ring rubber out of them. Every pound of rubber, writes Mark Twain, costs a rape, a mutilation or a life. And the lies and slanders are accumulated […] The natives are illtreated and overtaxed. A lie! The natives are mutilated by the State. A lie! The State provides nothing for the country. A lie! The State establishes a worse form of slavery right in Africa. A lie! Truth shines forth in the following pages, which summarily show what the Congo State is — not the hell as depicted by a morbid mind — but a country which twenty years ago was steeped in the most abject barbary and which to—day is born to civilization and progress. No soliloquy will prevail against the real state of things in the Congo . . . Mark Twain’s sympathy is exclusively extended to the Congo natives. He is not in the least interested in a better understanding between blacks and whites in the United — States, he takes no interest in the people of India who are clamouring for more freedom, nor in the Egyptians who are claiming self-government, nor in the natives of the British colonies. The fact is, that the Congo Reform Association, of which Mark Twain is the mouth-piece, is not in quest of the happiness or the negroes, but is simply endeavouring, by all possible means, to overthrow the Congo Government, and with this object in view, has set up a fabric of imag-inary crimes and lies, in the hope, by dint of slander, to reach its distinctly revolutionary ends.
Document F: Photographs from An Answer to Mark Twain used to defend Belgium’s colonial policy in the Congo
The girl got up to speak before a crowd of global leaders. “Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.” She continued: “I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes.” She challenged the adults in the room: “parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everything’s going to be alright’, “we’re doing the best we can” and “it’s not the end of the world”. But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore.”
No, these were not Greta Thunberg’s words earlier this year. This appeal came from Severn Suzuki at the Rio Earth Summit back in 1992. In the 27 years since, we have produced more than half of all the greenhouse gas emissions in history.
Reading recent media reports, you could be forgiven for thinking that climate change is a sudden crisis. From the New York Times: “Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change.” From the Financial Times: “Climate Change is Reaching a Tipping Point.” If the contents of these articles have surprised Americans, it reveals far more about the national discourse than then any new climate science. Scientists have understood the greenhouse effect since the 19th century. They have understood the potential for human-caused (anthropogenic) global warming for decades. Only the fog of denialism has obscured the long-held scientific consensus from the general public.
Who knew what when?
Joseph Fourier was Napoleon’s science adviser. In the early 19th century, he studied the nature of heat transfer and concluded that given the Earth’s distance from the sun, our planet should be far colder than it was. In an 1824 work, Fourier explained that the atmosphere must retain some of Earth’s heat. He speculated that human activities might also impact Earth’s temperature. Just over a decade later, Claude Pouillet theorized that water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere trap infrared heat and warm the Earth. In 1859, the Irish physicist John Tyndall demonstrated empirically that certain molecules such as CO2 and methane absorb infrared radiation. More of these molecules meant more warming. Building on Tyndall’s work, Sweden’s Svante Arrhenius investigated the connection between atmospheric CO2 and the Earth’s climate. Arrhenius devised mathematical rules for the relationship. In doing so, he produced the first climate model. He also recognized that humans had the potential to change Earth’s climate, writing “the enormous combustion of coal by our industrial establishments suffices to increase the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air to a perceptible degree.”
Later scientific work supported Arrhenius’ main conclusions and led to major advancements in climate science and forecasting. While Arrhenius’ findings were discussed and debated in the first half of the 20th century, global emissions rose. After WWII, emission growth accelerated and began to raise concerns in the scientific community. During the 1950s, American scientists made a series of troubling discoveries. Oceanographer Roger Reveille showed that the oceans had a limited capacity to absorb CO2 . Furthermore, CO2 lingered in the atmosphere for far longer than expected, allowing it to accumulate over time. At the Mauna Loa observatory, Charles David Keeling conclusively showed that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were rising. Before John F. Kennedy took office, many scientists were already warning that current emissions trends had the potential to drastically alter the climate within decades. Reveille described the global emissions trajectory as an uncontrolled and unprecedented “large-scale geophysical experiment.”
In 1965, President Johnson received a report from his science advisory committee on climate change. The report’s introduction explained that “pollutants have altered on a global scale the carbon dioxide content of the air.” The scientists explained that they “can conclude with fair assurance that at the present time, fossil fuels are the only source of CO2 being added to the ocean-atmosphere-biosphere system.” The report then discussed the hazards posed by climate change including melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and ocean acidity. The conclusion from the available data was that by the year 2000, atmospheric CO2 would be 25% higher than preindustrial levels, at 350 parts per million.
The report was accurate except for one detail. Humanity increased its emissions faster than expected and by 2000, CO2 concentrations were measured at 370 parts per million, nearly 33% above pre-industrial levels.
Policymakers in the Nixon Administration also took notice of the mounting scientific evidence. Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote to Nixon that it was “pretty clearly agreed” that CO2 levels would rise by 25% by 2000. The long-term implications of this could be dire, with rising temperatures and rising sea levels, “goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter,” Moynihan wrote. Nixon himself pushed NATO to study the impacts of climate change. In 1969, NATO established the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) partly to explore environmental threats.
The Clinching Evidence
By the 1970s, the scientific community had long understood the greenhouse effect. With increasing accuracy, they could model the relationship between atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and Earth’s temperature. They knew that CO2 concentrations were rising, and human activities were the likely cause. The only thing they lacked was conclusive empirical evidence that global temperature was rising. Some researchers had begun to notice an upward trend in temperature records, but global temperature is affected by many factors. The scientific method is an inherently conservative process. Scientists do not “confirm” their hypothesis, but instead rule out alternative and “null” hypotheses. Despite the strong evidence and logic for anthropogenic global warming, researchers needed to see the signal (warming) emerge clearly from the noise (natural variability). Given short-term temperature variability, that signal would take time to fully emerge. Meanwhile, as research continued, other alarming findings were published.
Scientists knew that CO2 was not the only greenhouse gases humans had put into the atmosphere. During the 1970s, research by James Lovelock revealed that levels of human-produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were rapidly rising. Used as refrigerants and propellants, CFCs were 10,000 times as effective as CO2 in trapping heat. Later, scientists discovered CFCs also destroy the ozone layer.
In 1979, at the behest of America’s National Academy of Sciences, MIT meteorologist Jule Charney convened a dozen leading climate scientists to study CO2 and climate. Using increasingly sophisticated climate models, the scientists refined estimates for the scale and speed of global warming. The Charney Report’s forward stated, “we now have incontrovertible evidence that the atmosphere is indeed changing and that we ourselves contribute to that change.” The report “estimate[d] the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3°C.” Forty years later, newer observations and more powerful models have supported that original estimate. The researchers also forecasted CO2 levels would double by the mid21st century. The report’s expected rate of warming agreed with numbers posited by John Sawyer of the UK’s Meteorological Office in a 1972 article in Nature. Sawyer projected warming of 0.6°C by 2000, which also proved remarkably accurate.
Shortly after the release of the Charney Report, many American politicians began to oppose environmental action. The Reagan Administration worked to roll back environmental regulations. Obeying a radical free-market ideology, they gutted the Environmental Protection Agency and ignored scientific concerns about acid rain, ozone depletion, and climate change.
However, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts had already meaningfully improved air and water quality. Other nations had followed suit with similar anti-pollution policies. Interestingly, the success of these regulations made it easier for researchers to observe global warming trends. Many of the aerosol had the unintended effect of blocking incoming solar radiation. As a result, they had masked some of the emissions-driven greenhouse effect. As concentrations of these pollutants fell, a clear warming trend emerged. Scientists also corroborated ground temperature observations with satellite measurements. In addition, historical ice cores also provided independent evidence of the CO2 temperature relationship.
Sounding the Alarm
Despite his Midwestern reserve, James Hansen brought a stark message to Washington on a sweltering June day in 1988. “The evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.” Hansen led NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies(GISS) and was one of the world’s foremost climate modelers. In his Congressional testimony, he explained that NASA was 99% certain that the observed temperature changes were not natural variation. The next day, the New York Times ran the headline “Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate.” Hansen’s powerful testimony made it clear to politicians and the public where the scientists stood on climate change.
Also in 1988, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was created to study both the physical science of climate change and the numerous effects of the changes. To do that, the IPCC evaluates global research on climate change, adaptation, mitigation, and impacts. Thousands of leading scientists contribute to IPCC assessment reports as authors and reviewers. IPCC reports represent the largest scientific endeavor in human history and showcase the scientific process at its very best. The work is rigorous, interdisciplinary, and cutting edge.
While the IPCC has contributed massively to our understanding of our changing world, its core message has remained largely unchanged for three decades. The First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990 stated “emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases.” Since then, the dangers have only grown closer and clearer with each report. New reports not only forecast hazards but describe the present chaos too. As the 2018 Special Report (SR15) explained: “we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.”
As this story has shown, climate science is not a new discipline and the scientific consensus on climate change is far older than many people think. Ironically, the history of climate denialism is far shorter. Indeed, a 1968 Stanford University study that reported “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic changes,” was funded by the American Petroleum Institute. During the 1970s, fossil fuel companies conducted research demonstrating that CO2 emissions would likely increase global temperature. Only with political changes in the 1980s did climate denialism take off.
Not only is climate denialism relatively new, but it is uniquely American. No other Western nation has anywhere near America’s level of climate change skepticism. The epidemic of denialism has many causes:
The result of a concerted effort by fossil fuel interests to confuse the American public on the science of climate change
free-market ideologues that refuse to accept a role for regulation
The media’s misguided notion of fairness and equal time for all views
the popular erosion of trust in experts
Because the consequences of climate change are enormous and terrifying.
Yet, you can no more reject anthropogenic climate change than you can reject gravity or magnetism. The laws of physics operate independently of human belief.
However, many who bear blame for our current predicament do not deny the science. For decades, global leaders have greeted dire forecasts with rounds of empty promises. James Hansen has been frustrated the lack of progress since his 1988 testimony. “All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem…we haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it.” The costs of dealing with climate change are only increasing. Economic harms may run into the trillions. According to the IPCC’s SR15, to avoid some of climate change’s most devastating effects, global temperature rise should be kept to below 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. That would likely require a reduction in emissions to half of 2010 levels by 2030, and to net-zero emissions by 2050. Had the world embarked on that path after Hansen’s spoke on Capitol Hill, it would have required annual emissions reductions of less than 2%. Now, according to the latest IPCC report, the same goal requires annual reductions of nearly 8%. 1.5°C appears to be slipping out of reach.
We have known about the causes of climate change for a long time. We have known about its impacts of climate change for a long time. And we have known about the solution to climate change for a long time. An academic review earlier this year demonstrated the impressive accuracy of climate models from the 1970s. This is no longer a scientific issue. While science can continue to forecast with greater geographic and temporal precision, the biggest unknown remains our action. What we choose today will shape the future.
This article is based on interviews with Marisa Mathias, teachers, and students of the Pascack Hills/Valley Regional District. Hank Bitten is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies.
The intent of this course was to introduce students to the more pluralistic world that they are likely to encounter. For much of human history most people lived in a world where they were likely to come across people much as themselves: that is all of their contacts would be with people of a similar ethnic, racial, social and religious background. As the world has become more interconnected students are likely to have to deal with people who have differing world views and the intention of this course was to use the study of religion as a vehicle for students to explore the diversity of religious belief and to see how religion can be a unique and distinct explanation of the human experience.
The goal of the course was to show how religion supports our understanding of how the world operates. Just as the physical and social sciences add to our understanding of how we experience life, so does religion but it does it in a way that that is unique to the core ideas of this discipline. This course was designed to explore the terms and language of religion so that it speaks to the listener on the termsthat most suits its distinctive message.
One of the guiding posits of this course is best summed up by the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, 20th century Austrian philosopher:
“It is a grave mistake to make religious belief a matter of evidence in the way that science is a matter of evidence because theological language works on an entirely different plane. If religious language is interpreted symbolically it has the power to manifest a transcendent reality in the same way as the short stories of Tolstoy. They reveal a reality too wonderful for words.”
This course permits students to examine religion through the prism of myth and symbol, distinct from an emphasis on creed and ritual, for as Francesco Petrarch said in his 14th century treatise, On Religious Life:
“Theology is actually poetry, poetry concerning God, effective not because it ‘proved’ anything, but because it reached the heart.”
Religion is not supposed to provide answers to questions that lay with the reach of human reason. There are other disciplines that are designed for that.
Religion’s task, closely allied with that of art, it helps us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no rational explanations and for problems for which there are no easy explanations: mortality, pain, grief, despair and outrage at the injustice and cruelty of life. Actually, the study of religion motivates inquiry, discovery, and exploration. When reason is pushed to its limits, we can arrive at a transcendence that may permit us to affirm our suffering with serenity and courage.
Interpreting religion through the use of myth and symbol opens up a new avenue of understanding religious stories that is not reliant on the historical validity of those stories. Those stories have something timeless to tell us about the human experience that transcend our ability to validate them as historical fact.
While there may be some who may doubt that which is neither apparent of the senses nor obvious to our intelligence, I would direct you to the words of Albert Einstein who said in Living Philosophies in 1931:
“The most beautiful emotion that we can experience is the mystical. It is the sower of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger is all but dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself to us as thehighest wisdom and most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of all true religiousness.”
This is what we hope to convey to our students. That through a study of religion with the aid of an understanding of the myth and symbol we too may receive a glimpse of the divine nature of our world. Finally, Carl Jung concluded that
“Science … is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is.”
From a Teacher of the Religion in America Class:
When Dom started this elective course over 30 years ago, both his insight and perspective were brilliant. He held two master’s degrees, one in American History and one in Myth and Religion. Challenging students to examine religion through the prism of myth and symbol offered the opportunity to see beyond creed and ritual. This focus allowed for a second, most important objective to be met for students – to help them understand individually why they believe what they believe. From my experience, this is what students appreciated most from the class. Dom and I have always believed in the art of discussion and have both witnessed throughout our careers that students became empowered when we created a comfortable atmosphere for them to listen, think, question, discuss and grow. This has been and continues to be the beauty and strength of the course.
In 2007, when I began teaching the class, I looked to Stephen Prothero, Religious Scholar and Professor at Boston University. In his book, Religious Literacy, he revealed that most of his students had no understanding of religious concepts. His belief was and continues to be that his students as well American citizens in general need to be religiously literate. Religious literacy, according to Prothero is, “a skill to engage in public conversations about religion” and requires “knowledge of world religions, empathetic understanding, critical engagement, and comparative perspective”.
Our course at Pascack Valley is entitled Religion in America where we offer students a comparative study of World Religions as well as the opportunity to understand why they believe what they believe. And all of it is done through the fostering of lessons in empathy and critical engagement. Inviting guest speakers in to our class from various religions was yet another brilliant idea of Dominic when he began the course and it continues to be the highlight for students. We study religion through the understanding of myth and symbol and learn about multi-religious beliefs from those who practice.
Dominic, myself and now Marisa believe that religion matters and that students cannot make sense of global or American history or America or the world today without it. At a time when ‘information civility’ is waning and in dire need of resurrection, this course espouses it. And the great benefit for students is that they ultimately gain a better understanding of why they believe what they believe.
Comments from final reflection papers by students:
Before taking Religion in America, I held the belief that religion is a form of guidance which allows its followers to feel a sense of purpose in life. This course has reinforced my understanding of religion but I realized there is a lot more to explore and dissect when it comes to religion. The comparative nature of this class has allowed me to find commonalities and debunk preconceived notions about certain religions, which has fostered a stronger sense of open-mindedness within myself. Now I see the concept of religion as having different layers or components: spiritual, structural, and psychological. Moreover, this course has allowed me to analyze my own personal connections to religion and how they have altered my thought processes and behaviors. Despite the fact that I do not presently identify with any religion, this class has had a positive impact by allowing me to apply certain practices and tenets of other religions to my own life.
“As each speaker came in and I listened to them speak so passionately about their religion and my eyes were really opened. Everyone was so humble and surprisingly open to other religions. All the stereotypes I once believed were immediately thrown out the window. I no longer believed that religion is merely for the purpose of worship and control of the masses. It’s about love, community, and giving up yourself for a higher power and cause. Whether it is through community service or the small everyday good deeds you can do.”
“Now at the end of this course, if you ask me whether I believe in God or not, I will still say no, but I will tell you all about how there is something out there for everyone. There is some way to make life worth living, the experience may not be able to take all the bad out of the world, but it will be able to balance it out with the good. It took me a long time to understand why the dark in this world is so necessary, and with the help of this class I finally understand it is completely necessary so that each and every one of us can experience the good in extremes. I now understand that all we can do to live a healthy and happy life is to exist in the present at all times, forgive and forget, and make mistakes. Everybody may not be able to agree with me, but that is okay because religion is not just one thing, it can be anything you believe it to be.
My time spent learning about religions in this class was not time wasted. I feel that I really did learn a lot about the beliefs of the world, the people who believe in them, and the cultures surrounding them all. I value the time I spent learning about all of this, and I feel it was something good for me to have experienced. I’m happy that I have, and I will take the information I’ve gathered this semester with me through the rest of my life. I hope to use it to become a better person, someone who’s more equipped to be more accepting of people no matter what they believe, even if I don’t think it is something I personally could ever subscribe to.”
“After every single speaker that came in, I went home and couldn’t wait to tell my mom, dad, and sister about what I learned.”
“I’m excited to come to class every day. This class genuinely made me a happier and more accepting person.”
“This class is great because you not only learn about the different religions, and different parts of the world, but also about different cultures and the diversity within them.”
I teach sixth grade social studies in an independent Episcopal school. The course explores a narrative history of the Atlantic world beginning with the European Age of Exploration, particularly examining the theme of colonialism as it unfolds in Latin America/the Caribbean and Africa. The content of the course moves between the historical narrative and current global issues that, in some way, tie into that narrative. A major goal of the course is building global citizenship and empathy among the students. The course includes a standalone unit on world religions with the goal of attaining a basic degree of religious literacy and understanding the religious components of the historical narrative and current issues we discuss. Another main objective is helping students develop a respectful understanding of and empathy toward diverse religious traditions. This project articulates the beginning point of the unit on world religions by starting with the concept of lived religion. Because sixth graders need to develop the basic content knowledge of major religious traditions as a starting point, it is important to precede any discussion of the “basic facts” of any religion with the explanation that each tradition is characterized by astounding internal diversity. Using this preliminary discussion as a starting point, students can then move into the discussion of each faith tradition understanding the nuances that there is no such thing as a “pure” example of any tradition.
How can we move beyond a monolithic treatment of religious traditions when introducing religious studies to middle school students? This is the main question behind this project. The NEH Summer Institute, “Religious Worlds of New York,” has emphasized the concept of “lived religion” as an alternative approach to the more traditional model of focusing primarily on basic beliefs and practices as a way to learn about religious traditions. Rather than treating these traditions as monolithic or unchanging, the lived religion or cultural studies approach sees religion as a dynamic, constructed reality in the lives of practitioners that is situated in a particular historical context and, therefore, infinitely diverse in its expression.
The challenge I attempt to undertake with this project is how to communicate essential information about the world’s most influential faith traditions to middle school students in a way that acknowledges the staggering internal diversity of human experiences of these traditions.
I have been persuaded by many of the readings and speakers in this institute of the value and need for the lived religion approach. In particular, Dr. Ali Asani, one of the foremost scholars of Islam in the United States, argued that treating religions monolithically is a cause of ignorance and dehumanization, which of course lies behind many of the religious conflicts we are experiencing in today’s world. Clearly, there is an imperative to teach from a lived religion or cultural studies approach given my overall course goals of global citizenship, empathy and respect. However, in my context teaching sixth grade in a relatively religiously homogeneous community, I am starting from “square one” in terms of introducing these faith traditions for the first time. There is a clear tension between the task of learning the “basic facts” about each tradition and understanding religious life in context of the lived religion approach.
In thinking through how to alleviate this tension, I propose a new way of framing how I introduce the study of world religions for my sixth graders. Instead of launching into learning about history, beliefs, practices, geography, etc. for each religion, I will begin by introducing the concept of lived religion as a way of demonstrating the internal diversity of each faith tradition and the enormous complexity of factors affecting its expression in the “real world” where we live. In short, I want my students to approach the study of each tradition with the caveat that there is no such thing as the “pure” expression of that tradition.
What I propose in this project is a visual model or template for thinking about lived religion. I will use the graphic resource I have created here to explain the concept of lived religion and to caution against projecting the basic facts of any tradition onto any individual practitioner, faith community, denomination, or entire religion. I will use this concept as a way of setting the tone for our study of religion as one of what Robert Orsi calls “radical empiricism” – that my students can approach the study of each tradition as a detached observer rather than a devotee, expert, or theological critic. This will allow us to explore the basic facts of each tradition in the context that these facts have no “pure” expression in the real world. Then, as we examine real examples of lived religion in our community through field trips and ethnographic research, students can explore questions surrounding the extent to which the examples they have encountered reflect the basic traditions we have discussed.
In addition to my emphasis on lived religion as an alternative approach to understanding religious studies, I will include some discussion of how the study of religion ties into the broader theme of colonialism, a major theme of our sixth-grade course. The very idea of “religion” is itself a cultural construct of westerners imposed on nonwestern contexts (Asani, Orsi, Paden, Diner, Hawley, and others we have read or heard from as guest speakers in this institute have emphasized this point). This graphic will help me return the discussion to the theme of colonizer and colonized as we study religions by looking at colonialism as one component of the historical context through which we must filter our study of religion as a lived phenomenon.
I hope that through this careful framing of our discussion of the idea of lived religion, my students will understand that the basic facts of the traditions are an important starting point for understanding religions in the world today, but never are they representative of the religious reality of lived experience.
1. Develop interest and support from teachers in your department or school and supervisor.
2. Develop an objective, mission statement, and curriculum outline for a semester course.
3. Identify resources and speakers in your community. (museums, colleges, places of worship, demographic profile from the U.S. Census.) (www.census.gov )
4. Identify online resources or cost of books and resources.
5. Present plan to your principal.
6. Present plan to your Director of Curriculum.
7. Engage interested students who might sign up for this elective course in one and or two years. (Focus on freshman and sophomore students or middle school students.)
Benefits and Advantages for Students: ○ Colleges value the course for its emphasis on research, understanding of the cultural experiences of students from diverse populations, and the inherent qualities for inquiry and critical thinking
○ Social Emotional Learning connections support sensitivity to the experiences and beliefs of other students, emphasize ethical and moral discussions, and listening to a variety of perspectives.
○ Relevance to the content in the subjects of U.S. History, World History, English Literature
Steps to Support your Course Proposal:
Organize public discussion groups o Present an outline of an elective course on world religions to students and document their questions and statements about offering a course. What do they want to know, why do they want to know about religious teachings, do they have any experiences with the subject of different religious beliefs, etc.
o Arrange for a discussion with teachers in your department and school about an outline for an elective course. Is this something that should be taught by one department, involve an interdisciplinary course offering (literature, science, art, music, etc., be structured around team teaching, etc. o Provide an opportunity for the public (parents and community leaders) to comment on the proposal.
Discuss the proposal with your school or district’s Curriculum Team o First, arrange for an informal discussion with your supervisor and building principal about the need, support, scheduling, and budget. o For example, is this a course that would be taught for a semester or a full year? Should this course be taught during the school day or offered online, after school, on Saturdays, etc.
o Is the primary focus of this course content, enrichment, or exploratory?
o Are there any concerns within the school or community?
o Second, arrange for an informal or formal presentation with your supervisor and principal to your Director of Curriculum and Superintendent.
o At this time, present the course outline, C3 Framework Religious Studies Companion document, examples from other schools, list of possible speakers, textbooks or online resources, the goals and objectives for this course, where it is most likely to fit in the schedule, a summary of your research, professional development and training for teachers, the course description for the Program of Studies, and a timeline for implementation.
Steps to Support your Course Proposal:
Scholarly Research on Teaching Religion from the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute (2019) Goldschmidt, Henry. (2013). From world religions to lived religion. In V.F. Biondo & A. Fiala (Eds.), Civility, Religious Pluralism, and Education: Routledge.
● Warren Nord – “[Even] if students acquire a basic religious literacy as a result of their courses in history and literature, they are unlikely to develop any significant religious understanding … This kind of inside understanding requires that religion be studied in some depth, using primary sources that enable students to get inside the hearts and minds of people within a religious tradition” (p. 178)
● Goldschmidt – “This sort of empathic understanding is an essential prerequisite to civic engagement, and civil dialogue, among Americans of diverse religious and secular backgrounds” (p. 178)
● “What they need, I think, is an introduction to what scholars in the humanities and social sciences have taken to calling “lived religion.” They need to study popular beliefs and practices, in addition to canonical doctrines and rituals. They need to explore the process of interpretation – tracing how sacred texts may shape, and be shaped by, the practical concerns of contemporary communities. They need to question the boundaries of established religions, and the definition of “religion” as such. And they need to pay very close attention to the diversity within religious traditions and communities, by tracking the doctrinal debates that divide every community, as well as the relationships between religion and other forms of identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality … They need to know how their experiences of American society may be radically different – and not so different at all – from the experiences of their peers living in different religious worlds” (p. 183)
● “I’m afraid world religions curricula may reinforce the divides among religious communities themselves, by painting an oversimplified portrait of these communities as internally homogenous and clearly bounded – wholly unified by their doctrinal commitments and hermetically sealed by their doctrinal differences” (p. 182)
● Orsi, R. (1997). Everyday miracles. In D.D. Hall (Ed.), Lived Religion in America – Toward a History of Practice: Princeton University Press:
“The focus on lived religion … points us to religion as it is shaped and experienced in the interplay among venues of everyday experience …, in the necessary and mutually transforming exchanges between religious authorities and the broader communities of practitioners, by real men and women in situations and relationships they have made and that have made them” (p. 9).
● Orsi, R. (2003) Is the Study of Lived Religion Irrelevant to the World We Live In? Special Presidential Plenary Address, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Salt Lake City, November 2, 2002. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42 (2), 169-174:
“The study of lived religion situates all religious creativity within culture and approaches all religion as lived experience, theology no less than lighting a candle for a troubled loved one, spirituality as well as other, less culturally sanctioned forms of religious expression. Rethinking religion as a form of cultural work, the study of lived religion directs attention to institutions and persons, texts and rituals, practice and theology, things and ideas – all as media of making and unmaking worlds. They key questions concern what people do with religious idioms, how they use them, what they make of themselves and their worlds with them, and how, in turn, men and women, and children are fundamentally shaped by the worlds they are making as they make these worlds. There is no religion apart from this, no religion that people have no taken up in their hands” (p. 172)
Paden, W.E. (1994). Religious worlds: The comparative study of religion. Beacon Press. ● “Like the study of music, which is not limited to examining a sequence of composers but also considers the special world of musical categories such as rhythm and harmony, so the study of religion is not limited to analyzing historical traditions such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity but also investigates the religious “language” common to all traditions, the language of myth, gods, ritual, and sacrifice – in short, the language of “the sacred” (p. 1) ● “Many Westerners have found a “perennial philosophy” – as in the title of Alous Huxley’s book on the subject – embodied in mystical experience and writings around the globe. Huxley stressed that the mystics of all religions express a common unity of vision because they have all alike experienced the one reality “beyond name and form.” Innumerable religious sects have maintained versions of the idea of a traditional wisdom that underlies all historical religions and have emphasized the great difference between parochial, literal interpretations of religion, on the one hand, and mystical or symbolic representations on the other. ● In the 20th century, Carl Justav Jung (1875-1961) developed a psychological approach to religion and mythology that stressed the role of universal, collective archetypes embodied in every psyche. The myths and gods here represent typical functions of the unconscious that get reenacted over and over again in similar ways in individual lives. Everywhere we find versions of the great mother, the hero, the tyrant father – all representing structures of the relationship of the go and the unconscious. The archetypal self that is in all of us is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” as Joseph Campbell puts it in the title of his widely read book. The stages of the journey of the human spirit follow the same patterns, with but local variations, everywhere” (p. 32)
People of the world, Rise up for a minute And awaken yourselves And ask yourselves Have I done everything I could? For my children, grandchildren And great grandchildren That they never forget and Always remember.
January 27, 2005 was marked as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day adopted by UN General Assembly. ”
To commemorate this day and honor innocent victims of the Nazi genocide and Stalinist repression during the era of Cult of Personality, the Prakhin Foundation established The Annual Literary Award “Truth about the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression” for the best literary work revealing the tragedy of that period.
The First Annual Literary Award Ceremony took place on January 27, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Living Memorial of the Holocaust in New York City. “We used to do the ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage during 10 years, but in the last three years we have held it at Bergen Community College to make it more convenient for local adults and students to attend. Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation and its Office of Multicultural Affairs in Bergen Community College were among the event’s co-sponsors. To involve young people, who should learn about the history of our ancestors and give them the green light and an opportunity to make a significant contribution by carrying the legacy through future generations we established new development of the Prakhin Foundation “Yang Generation Always Remember(YGAR ) and Annual Student Literary Award in 2010.
The “Young Generation Always Remembers” mission is not only to repay a debt to the previous generations who perished and to those who survived through the horrors of those terrible years, but also, to help our youth to get to know their history and role models, because they give children of all ages a sense of the basic need of belonging, a sense of their place in the world.
The Gala-concert “New generation always remembers – Past, Present, Future” will recognizes the achievements of talented children who participate or would like to participate in charity work.
In addition, this event is an important communication platform between generations by fusing together the wisdom and memory of the older generation with the talents and energy of the young generation for a brighter future. We invite aspiring performers of all ages, students from schools, academies, or youth organizations to participate in our Gala-concert. Since 2010 we received more than 250 submissions from middle and high school students. Teachers and students are using the curriculum resources of “Holocaust and Genocide” and “Stalin and his Repressive Regime” created by the Prakhin Foundation in conjunction with the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. We strongly believe that young generations need to be aware of THESE dark times in HUMAN history. If people forget, history tends to repeat itself.
This year we received fifty-seven submissions from several NJ schools, Weehawken HS, Bayonne HS, Englewood HS, Passaic Academies HS, Fair Lawn HS, Summit HS, and North Bergen HS. Teachers and students have studied the very serious issue of “Truth about Holocaust and Stalinist Repressions” and produced outstanding art, prose, and poetry. We appreciate all of them who submitted their creative work and sent everyone a certificate directly to the school or presented during Award Ceremony. We are grateful to all the teachers for their educational efforts.
Examples of entries that received awards are: Diana Mendoza, Bayonne HS student for the art piece: Children on the fence Amy Arogue Irigoyen, North Bergen HS student, for the art piece Murder Factory Sabrina Fong, Weehawken High School for the poem The Holocaust Gabriel Matthew Luyun, Fair Lawn HS student for the article Stalin’s Genocide That Few Remember Ayla Teke, Passaic County Technical HS, for the poem Holocaust and Stalin
This year’s invited guests to our awards program were Tekla Bekesha, director of Preili (Latvia) history museum, Nora Shnepste, Latvian high school principal, Pastor Klaus Peter Rex from Germany, Sami Staigmann, survivor and educator, Bernard Storch, veteran War II, and Frank Malkin survivor.
Our Foundation and YGAR continues to reach out to young writers, artists, musicians, and students alike by involving high schools, colleges, and universities in teaching students about human values, such as compassion, awareness, and forgiveness. We continue to encourage students to submit their work reflecting the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression in efforts to preserve the memories of our ancestors and inspire awareness among our youth.
Letter from Students “Yang Generation Always Remember” Erica Linnik, Fair Lawn HS student, YGAR development of Prakhin Literary Foundation
Dear friends, As time progresses, the necessity of preserving the history of those before us that experienced the truth of the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression grows stronger. The number of these witnesses grows less and less as time passes, and we cannot let their memories and wisdom perish with them. The lessons of those before our time only grows more relevant in our changing world, where the generation of our youth must understand the dangers of a fascist regime and the destructive nature of ignorance. Anti-Semitism and other discriminatory acts are still present today, and by promoting awareness among our youth, we can work towards a peaceful future. With every passing year, the challenge of keeping alive the memory of victims from the Holocaust and Stalinist regime grows more complex, and the necessity of preserving tolerance more urgent. However, with active students around the globe, such a difficult goal can be steadily achieved.
With the gracious aid of teachers and the establishment of our organization, we all take one step towards an enlightened future by remembering and learning from our not-so-distant past. A mistake as large as the atrocities of the Nazi and Stalinist regime repeated once more in our society risks turning into a habit. Such habits must be uprooted from our world through education and by never forgetting what those before us have experienced.
Although the hardships that the victims of the Holocaust and the Stalinist Regime are nearly impossible to completely comprehend for those that did not witness them, it is the duty of the youth to preserve the memories and teachings of their ancestors. To allow the suffering and pain from the Holocaust and the Stalinist Repression to be forgotten is dangerous, for we then run the risk of allowing such atrocities to reoccur once more.
The Annual Award Ceremony grants awards to young writers and artists that produce work under the subject of the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression. The awards granted to our young writers and artists both honor the memories of those who have perished before us and also serve as validations of hope for a promising future.
An example of a talented recipient is Daniel Mezhiborsky, who received an award for his poem “Gone.” My sister – Where is my sister?
We stepped off the railcar like they said We waited in the long line and smelled the smoke My mom cried. My arms ached. And the people all were quiet. Where is my sister? She is here. I can see her. I hold her hand. She is shaking. The line is narrowing And I see the man in the white coat. My sister’s crying And I stop to hold her. “Bewegung.” Move, the guard says. Our mother’s behind us as we step up to the man. He points to one of the lines behind him.
Where’s my sister? I feel her hand. We walk carefully to where the man pointed And my sister’s shaking calmed. But then, a shout – and another hand pulling on my sister’s arm.
I didn’t have time to scream before he had her Before the guard took her away. But make no mistake. It came soon after. I screamed like I have never screamed before. I looked to see my sister –
On her face I saw the most excruciating of expressions, The most cursed of looks, The most painful of cries. In her eyes I saw fear,
I saw confusion, I saw sorrow, I saw pure terror. But then the crowd closed around them And I was left standing alone. The world around me moved, but I stood still.
The pang of uselessness, the surge of anguish that flooded me… I felt my soul Crumble. My knees weakened. I fell. Gone.
Daniel Mezhiborsky was an award recipient from the 13th Annual Award Ceremony. The next Annual Award Ceremony will be held on January 28, 2021 and the deadline for all submissions is on December 30, 2020.
Next year’s Award Ceremony will be held on January 28, 2021. The submission deadline for all types of works is on December 30, 2020. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 201-741-0833, www.prakhina.org
Dr. Amanda McCorkindale is a New York State certified social studies who now teaches in the Humanitarian Education and Conflict Resolution Institute at Manchester University in the United Kingdom. This was originally published in the University of Manchester blog.
How do we engage with the next generation effectively when trying to tackle and understand humanitarian responses?
Are we relying on their innate ability to evolve towards being a ‘humanitarian’ based on engagement through charity fundraisers?
Do humanitarian organizations have a responsibility towards educating young people?
These questions have been at the forefront of my mind since I trained as a secondary Social Studies teacher in the United States over twelve years ago. During my time as a teacher in the U.S., Scotland and England I was fascinated by what motivated young people to engage with charities and humanitarian endeavors. I found time and again that students were eager and enthusiastic to participate with humanitarian initiatives, and they were far from apathetic, but too often they failed to understand how their efforts were helping or to see the wider picture. This led me to the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) where I went on to study a PhD jointly with the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester into humanitarian education.
Throughout this research I found that students did want to engage with humanitarian topics and help their local and global communities and that their enthusiasm was at times boundless. Key themes from this research have gone on to form HCRI’s brand new CPD unit in Humanitarian Education, which explores how we can engage young people with humanitarian topics through key pedagogical and humanitarian methods.
One key theme that developed from my research was how young people engage with ‘the other’, the concept where an individual is perceived by the group as not belonging. I found throughout the interviews, observations, and endless document analysis that students engaged with through feelings of empathy and ‘feeling with’ the other. Building on this, using student voice, agency and empowerment educators can help engage students towards empathizing with the people and organizations they are trying to help or develop a greater understanding of the humanitarian response they are studying. Creating a lasting connection for students that will resonate with them for years to come.
What does it mean to be a Humanitarian Educator? A core finding within my research was the role of humanitarian educators — humanitarians who are working as educators, whether this is in a classroom or informally through youth work. One of the pillars of this approach is exploring the ways in which the core humanitarian principles may be internalized by educators and reflected within their teaching practices, ultimately being humanitarians working within the educational field.
Humanitarian organizations have been producing resources to aid this transition and there have been recent movements coming from the International Federation of the Red Cross to ‘operationalize’ the principles (Beeckman, 2016) or to ‘teach humanity’ through Project Humanity. These approaches provide the groundwork towards being a humanitarian educator and this rising trend within humanitarianism. This is something that sparked my interested in developing a short online program to help guide educators and practitioners in humanitarian education.
Recognizing the qualities of being a humanitarian educator and internalizing them, will help you to gain a better understanding of how to engage young people with these topics and support you when teaching, what are at times, challenging topics. The online University of Manchester Humanitarian Education Continuing Professional Development helps educators identify how best to approach current humanitarian events and responses to best reflect the humanitarian principles as well as encourage students to empathize with others.
The world is currently having to adapt their educational perspectives in response to the global pandemic of Covid-19. The importance of education and understanding the role of humanitarianism and understanding the human connection to ‘the other,’ is more important now than it has ever been before.
If you’re interested in having the skills and methods to educate and support students to engage with these topics in a meaningful way, contact Amanda McCorkindale at email@example.com.