Lights, Camera, Action!: How to Create Your Own Campaign Video

This November, citizens of the United States will be given the privilege to vote for the next American president. Politicians hire consulting firms, and campaign management companies to help them develop the most affective strategic plan in order to get them elected.

The objective of this lesson is to teach students about campaign management.

From the Backyard to Barclays: The Marketing of Your Neighborhood

In this lesson, students examine how they can create or improve upon marketing plans for their own neighborhoods.

Jay-Z grew up in a small apartment only blocks away from a stadium of the team he now partially owns. Although not a primary owner, Jay-Z played a major role in marketing the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets to the stadium’s surrounding community in Brooklyn. His actions were an integral part of the overall growth of a neighborhood he once called home. In this lesson, students have an opportunity to develop ways to change their own neighborhoods and communities.

Battle of the Dreams

In this lesson, students critically examine Hip-Hop songs that sample Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and determine their potential to inspire today’s youth to take up Dr. King’s quest for racial and social justice.

Are Pop Stars the Best Advocates of Political or Social Awareness?

In this lesson, students will use Justin Bieber’s recent gaffe at the Anne Frank House to debate and explore whether or not pop stars can act in a useful way regarding sensitive social and political issues. They will also consider whether or not pop stars can make decent politicians.

What if Past Presidents Had Social Media?

In this lesson, students analyze the effects of social media on presidential politics and the influence it could have had during past American presidencies.

On April 26, 2013, the White House joined millions of Americans and created a Tumblr page. President Barack Obama was the first President of the United States to have Twitter and Instagram accounts while in office. President Obama is known as the first social media president. In this lesson, students use the words, actions, and policies of past presidents to interpret how social media could have been used during those presidencies.

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What If? Writing Alternate Histories in Pop Culture

 

 

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By imagining how things could turn out differently, we can sometimes reflect deeply on how things really are. 

There seem to be more and more video games, TV shows, movies, and other media about alternate histories—these are “what if?” style stories that imagine how changes in the past would affect the future. From comic book series like East of West to TV shows like Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle (adapted from a Philip K. Dick story), many authors imagine how history would have turned out differently if important events hadn’t happened or had turned out differently. These authors use counterfactuals, a way of thinking that goes against known facts and events, to develop intriguing stories that are somewhat similar to our world but different in important ways.

Alternate histories, works of fiction, still tell us a lot about the world we live in. By imagining how things could turn out differently, we can sometimes reflect deeply on how things really are. Some things we take for granted—our government, the way our society works, or our everyday lives—might have been very different with some key changes in the past. In The Man in the High Castle, the Axis Powers won World War II and divided up America under fascist rule. In video games like Fallout, you have a first-person look at how the future might change as a result of changes in the past. Even comedies like the classic Back to the Future and Hot Tub Time Machine series find creative storytelling opportunities in alternate histories.

 

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In this lesson, you will learn more about alternate histories and will use your solid grounding in historical fact to write creative historical fiction about recent events in pop culture and society. What happens when you follow the chain of consequences from one tiny change in the past to a new, exciting, and possibly frightening future?

 

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Pro-Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration against the violence in the Gaza strip, in Lyon

The Science Of Protest: How Our Brains Are Wired To Fight For Our Rights

(Credit: Reuters/Robert Pratta/AP/Charlie Riedel)

The recent tragic events surrounding the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the NYPD officers have struck a chord in a us all. However, today’s millennial generation of young people have taken to the streets more so than any other generation in recent history to express their feelings. Motivations, people’s beliefs, identity and emotions are key in generating a person’s willingness to protest. With or without social media, people who are deeply angry about an unjust situation, or who feel strongly connected with a particular issue, will always take to the streets.

Protest is defined as a form of collective action and as participation in a social movement. What is it that drives young people to protest? Why are young people prepared to sacrifice a comfortable and carefree lifestyle, or sometimes even their very lives for a common cause? The research team at NuSkool has found some scientific reasons why we fight for our rights that may have more to do with brain science than we realize. Science can’t always explain what’s in our hearts, but it can help us understand what motivates one of the greatest youth movements in history.
We are the risk takers and the rule breakers
Science has proven that teens and college students are really ‘bout that life. Scientists have used brain scanning methods to study the changes that occur in the teen brain. Recent discoveries have shown that teenagers have well-developed emotions and feelings and are more willing to do dangerous things an adult would avoid, this is due to the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for weighing risk and consequences in the teen brain. When experiencing an emotionally-charged situation like a tragedy in the community like Ferguson, the brain is handicapped in its ability to gauge risk and consider the consequences. In most situations, teens can evaluate risks just like adults. But in emotionally heightened real-life scenarios, this rational part of the brain gets overridden by the reward center. Racism, oppression and injustices in the community are definitely triggers for this kind of reaction. Our brains have a reward center, involving the nucleus accumbens, which lights up with dopamine whenever we find something exciting, interesting or meaningful. In a study comparing the brains of teens to adults, scientists found that teens need extreme situations in order to get excited.
We are natural born followers
News flash: peer pressure is actually a thing. Oxytocin receptors in a young brain makes teens highly responsive to the opinions of their peers. Studies find that the brain’s receptors for oxytocin has a strong influence on social bonding and affects our emotional and behavioral responses to social encouragement or peer pressure. When our peers become angry or emotional over a situation, this activates our own brain’s prefrontal areas in response to emotional and social stimuli. During this time, we also have heightened awareness toward the opinions of our friends, so much so that we imagine that our behavior is the focus of everyone else’s concern and attention.

According to a study, which examined brain scans of teens using fMRI data, the presence of friends activated certain regions of the brain that were not activated when they were alone that increased their willingness to take part in antisocial behavior. Being in the presence of friends also doubled risk-taking among young people in their 20’s, increased it by fifty percent among teens, but had no effect on adults, a pattern that was identical among both males and females. So the moral of the story is…choose your friends wisely.
We are a living, breathing social network
One of the strongest emotions in a teen’s life that pulls someone into joining a gang, a sports team or joining a social cause is the need to be a part of something bigger than oneself…joining a movement.

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Research suggests that people who experience both personal and group oppression are the most strongly motivated to take to the streets. Being part of something bigger than yourself is very important to today’s generation. Any events that harm that group by definition harm the individual, and they find themselves experiencing emotions on behalf of the group. The more people feel that group’s interests or values are threatened, the angrier they are and the more they are prepared to take part in protests to express their anger. Collective anger moves people to challenge the authorities and subdue other emotions such as shame, despair and obedience. Participating in protests strengthens the collective power of that group, and feelings of unity and support empowers people to stand together against the authorities. However, taking action doesn’t always mean people expect that group-related problems can be solved by their united efforts. Protesters find a way to overcome their defeated hopes to eventually protest again and raise consciousness to create solidarity. Is it science?… eh, maybe not. Is it real?…you bet. Does it change the world?… absolutely.

Before you decide to join a protest and put yourself at risk to fight for a cause, ask yourself the following questions:

Who or what caused the event?
How does the event influence my goals?
Do I have control and power over the consequences of the event?
Who can I call for help if I’m in danger or if I get arrested?

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Marvel Civil War: Whose Side Are You On?

The first promo art of Captain America 3: Civil War was just released. With the latest chapter Avengers: Age of Ultron upon us, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will carefully start to shift the story towards one of the greatest conflicts in comic book history, Marvel’s Civil War. In a sure sign that comics were getting awesome again, Marvel built in a story arc where the Avengers fought each other. This has happened before in comics, usually because one superhero gets mind-controlled by a villain. In the Marvel Civil War, though, the Avengers were instead fighting because they had different interpretations of rights. Both sides’ views were supportable by some interpretations of the Constitution. But would either have stood up in court? If the Avengers had taken their differences to court, instead of to the streets, which way would it have gone?

Which side are you on? Try the quiz below to find out!

The Plot of the War The Marvel Civil War was told in seven comics, released from 2006-2007. It takes place after most mutants have been killed, or have fled in secret to Xavier’s school. Having dealt with mutants, the United States government turned their attention to superheroes. The government wasn’t a big fan of superpowers. Untrained superheroes kept stepping up to villains in crowded areas, getting themselves and others killed. In one case, a couple of new superheroes tried to fight Nitro in a mall, leading to the deaths of over 600 people. In addition, superheroes, especially the Avengers, were also interfering in politics. Nick Fury was fired because he led a coup against one of the United States’ allies (in fairness, that ally was an evil cyborg). Finally, the government decided to act. Congress passed the Superhero Registration Act, forcing all superheroes to take off the masks, register their abilities, and work for federal law enforcement. They hired Tony Stark (Iron Man) to help enforce  the law. Captain America violently resisted. Both sides escalated in force.

The Arguments
The pro-registration arguments, supported by Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic, include:

Superheroes cannot veto a Congressional decision
Regulation of use of powers will be required by law
The government may restrict the rights of some to protect the rights of many

The anti-registration arguments, supported by Captain America, include:

Privacy protects superheroes and superheroes have a right to it
The majority should not legislate against minority rights
The government should not restrict rights in the present because of possible events in the future.

Do either of these arguments carry legal weight? This lesson below explores the legal precedents at play.