The events of September 11 forced Americans to consider important questions in a context sharpened by the deaths of thousands of Americans: Why were we attacked? How should we respond? Below you will find two lessons that address international terrorism and the potential American responses to it. In the first lesson found below, students will use case studies to investigate the difference between revolutionaries and terrorists. In the second, they will role-play four policy options and then write an essay expressing their views.
Reading: Revolutionaries or Terrorists?
2. Exploring legal and ethical judgments - Ask students to identify the standards the international community has established for when force may be used. Ask students to review the standards the international community has used for how force may be used. Have them list several examples of political violence, citing examples from either wars or terrorist acts. Explore these examples in terms of the decisions to use violence and how violence was employed. Are there examples of unjustifiable decisions to use force? Are there examples when the decision to use force was justifiable, but the kind of force used was not?
3. Case Studies - Distribute "Case Studies - Revolutionaries or Terrorists?" to students. Form groups of three to five students each. In groups ask the students to consider the case studies presented. Emphasize that the intent is for students to explore the debate over legitimate and illegitimate uses of force and the distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters. Assign a student from each group to record the group's conclusions.
4. Sharing Conclusions - After the groups have completed the worksheet ("Case Studies - Revolutionaries or Terrorists?"), invite group spokespersons to share their conclusions. Which cases did they label as terrorism? Were there cases that were particularly difficult to decide? Why? Challenge students to come up with a working definition of terrorism based on specific criteria.
National Standards for the Social Studies
Strand IX: Provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.
Strand X: Provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
National Standards for Civics and Government
Topic 2: What are the foundations of the American political system?
Topic 4: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations and to world affairs?
Topic 5: What are the roles of the citizen in American democracy?
This lesson is excerpted from Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy (© August 2002, Choices for the 21st Century Education Program, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University. All rights reserved.)