Civics Syllabus-Onteora High School
Mr. Knoche email@example.com
Civics is a course designed to familiarize students with their role, responsibilities and rights as citizens. We will study the systems and components of the government of the United States, its legislative processes, electoral system, budget, and political parties. The study of economics will be the focus during the 2nd semester.
Attendance/Late Work submission
Due to the large volume of material to be covered during the course of the year, faithful class attendance is necessary. Students are expected to be present in class and be on time every day with the exception of legal absences for illness or family emergency. Point deduction for submission of late work is seven points per day.
Standard Class Study and Grading Policy-Per Quarter
Major Grades (55%)
Community Service (10 Hours), Papers, Presentations, Tests
Minor Grades (30%)-Study Guides, Quizzes, Short in Class Assignments, US Governmental Domestic or Foreign Policy Issues
Class Participation- (15%) As this will be a discussion based class students are expected to contribute.
Grade For The Year
20% First Quarter
20% Second Quarter
Midterm-10% of the overall grade for the year
20% Third Quarter
Final Exam-15% of the overall grade for the year-This will be a test that includes multiple choice and an essay.
Welcome to the course! This is a full year course devoted to the study of Human Rights in a global and domestic context. We will examine the development of the concept of human rights and the role of the individual, the community, and government in maintaining and preserving rights. Students will gain knowledge of international laws and treaties as well as an understanding of US policies and responses to human rights. We will explore three case studies from the recent past (Cambodia, South Africa, and Rwanda) as well as focusing on the current humanitarian crisis in Syria, Latin America, and Myanmar. This course will cover material and information that challenges our understanding of the human experience and may provoke a multitude of reactions from anger and disbelief to hope and encouragement. The course will provide many opportunities to react to the readings, films, and student presentations we encounter. The course is most fulfilling when students participate in class discussions and we work together to understand global human rights and abuses in the past four decades.
1) Students are expected to arrive on time, prepared to discuss and participate in each lesson.
2) Each student should have a journal to record their responses to essential questions, song lyrics, or
poems that may be posted at the beginning of class. The journal will be checked periodically by me and
handed in at the end of each quarter. Students do not necessarily need to share responses with the class
but will be encouraged to do so.
3) Students will be assigned a supplementary topic that they will research and follow for the school year.
Two 2-3 page papers will be written on the topic each quarter and roughly three informal
presentations per quarter will be assigned. The goal is that your presentation will lead to meaningful
discussions. Class time will be given to research your topics, prepare for presentations, and to
write the papers. If you have good attendance and use the class time wisely you should have very little
work to complete outside of class.
Sample Topics-Hate Groups in the US or elsewhere, Child Soldiers, Abuse of power by police,
Refugees, Mass Incarceration, Treatment of the Disabled, Treatment of the Mentally Ill, Anti-
Semitism, Treatment of Palestinians, Israeli Settlements, Treatment of Women
4) Students should pay close attention to world news during the course and should be reading a national newspaper or visiting the following sites for more information: www.news.bbc.co.uk www.washingtonpost.com, www.guardian.co.uk
Participation 40% journal entries, class discussions, use of class time to work on assignments
Presentations and Papers on Your Topic – 40%
Late work: 7 points per day
Materials for this class:
You will need a small notebook for this course.
Unit 1: What are human rights?
· Defining human rights
· Philosophy of human rights-- do human rights exist? What makes a right a human right?
· Comparing the Declaration of Human Rights to The US Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and The Declaration of The Rights of Man and The Citizen
· The impact of the Enlightenment Philosophers on the development of human rights –Candide
· A brief history of human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
· The legal arguments used in the Nuremburg Trials and the impact of the verdicts
· Application of the human rights concepts to case studies-Cambodia, South Africa, Rwanda
· Cultural Conflict and Human Rights-Native Americans, Rohingya in Myanmar
· Music of The Struggle Against Apartheid in South Africa
Unit 2: Fundamental rights of the individual
· Life—preventing genocide
· Liberty—fighting human trafficking-The US, North Africa, China
· Security of the person
· Protection from torture
· What constitutes cruel punishment?
· Police Brutality-Rodney King
· Trevon Martin and Eric Garner
Unit 3: Facing History and Ourselves
· How is our identity formed?
· To what extent are we defined by our talents, tastes, and interests? By our membership in a particular ethnic group? Our religion? By the nation in which we live? Are we limited by the groups to which we belong or can we expand our horizons?
· What opportunities do individuals have in our society to expand their horizons? How does one make the most of those opportunities? How do our attitudes and beliefs influence our thinking?
· How does our thinking affect our actions?
· How can we keep our individuality and still be a part of a group? How does our tendency to see us as unique but them as members of groups affect our behavior as well as our attitudes? Do we welcome or fear them? When does fear turn to hate?
· How can one judge whether an idea is good or bad? What are the implications for those who do not share those values? Is a popular idea always a good one
Unit 4: Use of the law in defense of rights?
· Equality before the law—fighting discrimination based on:
· Race—discussion of Black Lives Matter
· Gender—women’s rights in Saudi Arabia
· Rights of the accused-The Central Park Five
· Protection from arbitrary arrest and detention
· Presumption of innocence in fair and public trials
· The wrongful conviction of Ruben Carter and his appeal leading to his exoneration
· Hip Hop Unit-Racism, Mass Incarceration, and Reconciliation
Unit 5: Civil and political rights
· Right to privacy, and how it has been affected by modern technology
· Freedom of movement and right to asylum—Syrian refugee crisis and the American response
· Immigration, Refugees, and Asylum-Music of Bob Dylan&Woody Guthrie
· Right to marry and form a family
· Freedom of thought, conscience, religion-- Comparing religious freedoms around the world
· Freedom of opinion and expression-Comparing the US, Russia, China, and The Netherlands
· Challenges in protecting free speech in the U.S.
· Fighting for free speech under repressive regimes
· Freedom of assembly and association?
· Right to take part in the government of one’s country
· Music of The Civil Rights Movement in The United States-Sam Cook, Bob Dylan, Nina Simon, Pete Segar, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and many more
· Supreme Court cases that have defined civil liberties
· Should reparations be paid for the wealth generated by slave labor?
· Comparing hate speech in the United States, Canada, and France
· Felons Should they gain back full political rights
· Political Prisoners-Stalin Era Soviet Union and Guantanamo Bay
Unit 6: Social Rights
· Right to work under favorable conditions and for fair and equal pay
· Right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care
· History of The Labor Movement
· Right to education
· The Music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Segar and others that advocted for the labor Force
· Examination of the labor movement in the United States and beyond
· Important Supreme Court Cases Regarding Labor
Bound For Glory Candide
Hotel Rwanda One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich
Judgment at Nuremburg
Nuremburg-The American Experience