Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 SUMMER PROJECT: To Drill or Not to Drill

Shortly after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration declared a moritorium (go look it up!) on deepwater oil drilling. Today, a federal judge struck down that moritorium. Find out why the judge did this and how the Obama administration is reacting by clicking here to read an article about the decision. Then address the following prompts:

Do you agree or disagree with the judge's ruling? Why or why not?

Why do you think the Obama administration imposed the moritorium in the first place?

If you agree with the moritorium, what kind of regulations do you think should be in place before deepwater drilling is allowed again?

According to Gallup polling data, Americans' perception of how President Obama is handling the oil spill is lower than his overall approval rating. Should we hold the President accountable for the spill? Why or why not?

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 SUMMER PROJECT: Deliberative Democracy

Hopefully, some of you followed the fierce debate over healthcare reform this past year. Now that the legislation has passed, many Americans are fearful of its impact, at least in part because the issue is so complex that most of us don't have the time or inclination to understand its intricacies (It's over 2000 pages long!). As our society becomes more and more complex, it seems that only the technocrats (look it up by clicking the link)have the ability to understand and make decisions about how to govern. Doesn't sound much like a democracy, does it? Have we outgrown democracy? Or can democracy be adapted enough to survive and thrive in our complex modern world?

Click here to read a recent article on a possible solution, "deliberative democracy", from The Economist magazine. Then address one or more of the following prompts:

Do you think there is currently a problem with our democracy due to the increasingly complex nature of our society? Why or why not?

Do you think deliberative democracy, as described in the article, would be a better system for creating public policy than our current system, which involves the election of representatives who make complex decisions for us? Why or why not?

What obstacles might be faced in trying to implement such changes to our current system of governing?

2010 SUMMER PROJECT: Take It Global

"Take it Global". That's the advice First Lady Michelle Obama gave the graduates of the George Washington University Class of 2010 when she gave the commencement address in May. She was suggesting that the graduates continue their community service and expand it to other areas of the world. This is a reflection of the ever increasing globalization with which the United States and all other nations are faced, due economic, environmental, cultural and other interdependence. More than any other generation before you, this is the world you will enter shortly. "...We are no longer isolated from what happens on the other side of the world....it’s in our best interest to look beyond our immediate self-interest, and look out for one another globally....so many of today’s challenges are borderless, from the economy to terrorism to climate change, and that solving those problems demands cooperation with others", Mrs. Obama said.

Clearly, her message applies to all of you, as well as the GW grads. Why should you consider service abroad? Michelle Obama gave several reasons in her speech. "When you serve others abroad, you’re serving our country, too. You’re showing the world the true face of America –- our generosity, our strength, the enduring power of our ideals, the infinite reservoir of our hope. And yes, serving abroad will make you stronger, more competitive, a more valuable asset for a career in the public or private sectors."

This blog post is designed to help you explore one avenue of global community service: the Peace Corps. First, click here to find out what the Peace Corps is. Next, discover where Peace Corps volunteers serve by clicking here. Then, to learn more about what types of things Peace Corps volunteers do, click here. Finally, click here to choose at least one location on the world map to explore in depth the activities of a Peace Corps volunteer. Just move your cursor over the various blue dots to see the different types of work the volunteers are doing, and click on one or more that interest you. Many of the stories have slide shows or videos or audio reports that accompany them and make them more interesting.

Having done all of the above, address at least 2 of the following prompts:

Do you agree with Michelle Obama that global community service makes a difference to U.S. relations with the rest of the world? Why or why not?

Based on the specific volunteer and location you learned about, how is this volunteer impacting the community he or she is serving? Provide specific examples from what you read, watched, etc.

Do you think you would be interested in global community service such as the Peace Corps? If so, where would you want to serve? What type of work would you like to do? Why is this type of service personally important to you?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

2010 SUMMER PROJECT: Why Immigration Reform Matters Politically

(Note: This post is mostly geared to AP Government, but AP World History students are welcome to respond to it too.)

Immigration reform is a major topic of conversation and concern for Americans these days. Due to the reluctance of Congress and the Obama administration to tackle this difficult issue, Arizona has passed a state law designed to cut down on illegal immigration that has provoked controversy not only in Arizona but across the country as well. Critics argue that it allows law enforcement officials to use racial profiling to identify illegal immigrants, while advocates of the law deny this and stress the need to take action to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

A new NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo public opinion poll offers insight into the political implications of this issue.

First, what is a public opinion poll? Find out by clicking here. (You might want to bookmark the political dictionary homepage for future use.)

Then, click here to read an article that analyzes the results of the poll. (On a personal note, one reason I chose this article is because in my former life working in professional politics, I worked closely with Bill McInturff, one of the pollsters interviewed for this article.)

Finally, address one or more of the writing prompts that follow. A word of advice: many of us have strong opinions on the topic of immigration. Please be respectful and appropriate in your comments in order to preserve the spirit of healthy public discourse that is the intent of this blog...and in order to get credit for your posts. In this particular instance, I am more interested in your ability to provide objective political commentary on this topic than in your personal opinion on the immigration issue.

Here are the prompts:

In light of the poll results, what might the "short-term gains" Republicans could make look like, given the upcoming elections for Congress, governors and other offices this fall?

The article provides an example of how information from public opinion polls can be used by political parties and campaigns to make decisions about how to spend their money to elect candidates to office. What do you think it means when the article says, "If he were a GOP political strategist, Hart says, 'I know where I’m putting my mail money and targeting money.'"?

Why do both Hart and McInturff think Republicans may have long-term problems, based on the poll results? What might be the consequences for Republicans?

If you were a Republican political worker, what course of action would you be inclined to take to help your party, based on the short and long-term consequences of the poll results?

2010 SUMMER PROJECT: What in the world is GLOBISH?

Most of you have taken or are taking a foreign language in school, presumably to communicate effectively with people from another country or countries. But what if there were a "language" that was designed to be used to communicate with people from around the world?

It turns out that there is one being developed. It's called Globish.

Click here to read an article from the New York Times about Globish, and then respond to one or more of the following writing prompts:

Why is globish emerging NOW, as opposed to 25 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 100 years ago?

Let's say globish catches on, and many people around the world learn to use it. What might be some positive consequences of this? Are there any possible negative consequences of it? If so, what might they be?

Do you think it might be important for you, as a young American and soon-to-be citizen of the world, to learn globish? Why or why not?

2009 Summer Projects Start Here!

***** If you are looking for posts for the 2010 Summer Project, STOP HERE. The posts that follow are from 2009 and therefore are not eligible for 2010 Summer Project responses. *******