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Course: Currents and Contexts
University of Maine
- (2) Incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives.
- (1) Provide instruction in academic disciplines through the lens of government, history, law, and democracy.
of Currents and Contexts are:
promote and increase civic engagement and discussion among students;
encourage greater understanding of various local, national, and world political
events, problems, and conditions within relevant contexts;
offer students a forum in which to discuss solutions to these problems, as
opposed to cynicism about them;
challenge students to consider the diverse arguments surrounding various
issues, not simply the side with which a given student may be ideologically
aligned; to create a unique aspect of the curriculum that places an emphasis on
teach students to employ and critique up-to-date information sources;
foster an atmosphere of student-to-student learning.
for this course are current newspapers, broadcasts, journals, web-sites, and
magazines that cover news or articulate opinions about current events,
including but not limited to such topics as cultural conflicts; the roles of
intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations; the three branches of the
American government; the economy; the environment; and political debates of
regional, state, and local concern. Student groups choose the topics they want to pursue and take turns
being responsible for class presentations and debate and for distributing
homework questions on current news items to all via e-mail. The bulk of class
time consists of a general discussion of the topics of the week, along with
about 30 minutes of presentation, debate, and discussion of the topic by the
pre-assigned student group.
Civic Learning Goals
- Civic knowledge: Identify and describe issues in
the community in which we live; understand principles of effective civil debate
in a free society; learn about political issues and the processes by which
citizens effect change; appreciate the structure of American government;
understand the relationship of current events and history.
- Civic skills: Process and evaluate information for
objectivity, accuracy, and point of view; develop and use critical thinking
skills and ethical reasoning to make informed and responsible decisions;
develop and use oral and written communication skills to convey ideas, facts,
and opinions in an effective, persuasive, and reasonable way; work
cooperatively with others and develop effective team building practices; speak
in public, listen actively and respectfully; how to effectively promote their
own goals in contentious political arenas.
- Civic attitudes: Willingness to enter dialogue with others about different points of view
and to understand diverse perspectives; tolerance for ambiguity and resistance
to simplistic formulations of complex questions/ simplistic answers to complex
problems; respect for the tradition of a free press; a sense of efficacy,
responsibility, and confidence in one’s capacity to make a difference.
Charlie Slavin, Ph.D.
The Honors College
The University of Maine
Richard J. Powell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
The University of Maine
243 North Stevens Hall