Choices Blog

Teaching Tariffs and Trade

Andy Blackadar

These two very short videos produced by the Choices Program of Professor Mark Blyth provide brief and usable definitions that can be used as a springboard into a broader discussion about President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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Immigration, Exclusion, and Race: It’s a Good Time to Teach About This

Andy Blackadar

We in the United States live in an era of superheated politics and a superheated news cycle where media attention flits from issue to issue, outrage to outrage. The president’s remarks on immigration from African countries and Haiti have put the spotlight squarely on him. The attitudes underlying his remarks deserve scrutiny. At the same […]

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The Kurdish Referendum

Andy Blackadar

On Monday, September 25, 2017, 92 percent of the Kurds in Iraq voted for independence in a vote that has been condemned by Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Each of these countries, with their significant populations of Kurds, is reluctant to allow Kurds to establish an independent state.

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The Death of Liu Xiaobo

Andy Blackadar

Human right activist and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, 2017. I’ve reposted something I wrote in 2010 for the Watson Institute’s Global Conversation blog.

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Podcast: Histories that Inspire

Andy Blackadar

In this “Inside the Writers’ Room” podcast, Lindsay Turchan and I talk with James N. Green, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Professor of Latin American History at Brown University and the director of Brown’s Brazil Initiative.

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Oral Histories: Students in the Civil Rights Movement

Andy Blackadar

On August 28, 1963, before a crowd of over 200,000 people in Washington D.C., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most famous speech of the U.S. civil rights movement. “I have a dream,” he declared, “that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the […]

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The Death of Fidel Castro

Andy Blackadar

The death of Fidel Castro marks a milestone. Castro was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy over the past fifty years, a villain straight out of central casting in the imaginations of many Americans. At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he actually wrote a letter to Khrushchev encouraging him to use nuclear […]

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Podcast: Teaching the Presidential Election

Andy Blackadar

The results of this election will be historic and consequential. For teachers, it’s a great moment to help students develop the skills to consider the substance of the election, as well as identify their own beliefs and values. In a highly-charged partisan atmosphere, there is an opportunity for teachers to encourage respectful civic discourse and participation. One set […]

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Login to Learn—The Global Refugee Crisis: Where Do We Go from Here?

Andy Blackadar

Login to a talk on the global refugee crisis with the Choices Program Leadership Institute, Friday, July 15, 1-2:30. Expert Madeline Campbell will discuss her work with refugees from Iraq and Syria at camps and communities throughout the Middle East, the confounding global circumstances, and strategies for addressing this growing crisis. The UN reports that a tragic record […]

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Brexit: Connecting it to Classrooms

Andy Blackadar

This week’s Brexit vote was a shock to many and has been cast as the result of many forces. Here are some short commentaries put together by faculty at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. They cover a range of subjects: NATO, oil markets, identity, the future of the UK, to name […]

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Brazil: Curriculum Development, or Sometimes History Happens While You Write

Andy Blackadar

For the past year, the Choices Program has been working on a complete revision of its curriculum resources on Brazil. The project is a collaboration with the Brazil Initiative at the Watson Institute at Brown University and incorporates fantastic scholarship, new lessons, and videos. We hope to publish the new materials in the coming weeks. The new (and as you’ll see, […]

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Russia: News Engagement Series #2

Andy Blackadar

October 6 is National News Engagement Day, a day when “everyone is encouraged to read, watch, like, tweet, post, text, email, listen to, or comment on news.” News and the media is a vital part of social studies education today, which is why The Choices Program does our best to get current affairs content available […]

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Our Man in Tehran: The Relationship between Perception and Policy

Andy Blackadar

The Iran nuclear issue is dominating the news at the moment, and rightfully so. International politics, diplomacy, the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons are both fascinating and critical elements of security. As the merits of the plan undergo public scrutiny, I’m struck by how little many of those trumpeting their thoughts actually know about […]

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Yemen

Andy Blackadar

The New York Times video reporting from the Middle East over the past few days has been terrific. This piece on the Houthi forces in Yemen is interesting and vivid, focusing on the experience of ordinary people as the country changes. The reporter includes two video “sidebars.” (You can access them simply by clicking in […]

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Breaking the Mold On Cuba

Andy Blackadar

  This classic cartoon on U.S.-Cuba relations from 2004 pretty neatly illustrates 50 years of a relationship frozen in place. That’s done. A chapter from the Cold War has come to a close, but what comes next? There are many questions that are getting attention in the news right now. These questions also offer opportunities for high […]

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Too Many Funerals

Andy Blackadar

One of the interesting things about the protests of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York is how they are understood and interpreted.  TV news or the headlines tend to focus and report on them as responses to the grand jury decisions themselves, which they certainly are. But a long history is also at play here that can get missed […]

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ISIS, Iran, and the Nuclear Negotiations: A Teaching with the News Extension

Andy Blackadar

The Choices Program has just published two new Teaching with the News lessons. The first is on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. The deadline for coming to a final agreement is November 24, 2014, conveniently coming after U.S. elections and during a lame duck session of Congress. The second lesson is on the threat of ISIS […]

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Rethinking History: A Look at the Writing Process at the Choices Program

Andy Blackadar

Late last month, three members of the Choices curriculum team received the 2014 Franklin Buchanan Prize from the Association for Asian Studies for the outstanding curriculum resource on Asia. Leah Elliott and Maya Lindberg were recognized for their work as writers and Tanya Waldburger for her videography in Indian Independence and the Question of Partition. Congratulations […]

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Teaching a Long View of Russia and the United States

Andy Blackadar

The Choices Program was founded in the 1980s during a period of high tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thomas J. Watson Jr., U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1979-1981, and a former president of IBM, proposed that Brown University create a foreign policy center where scholars and practitioners could work […]

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Jean Shepherd and the March on Washington

Andy Blackadar

Jean Shepherd (1921-1999) was a fantastic story-teller who spun finely woven tales on the radio from the late 1940s into the 1990s. The stories were seemingly off-the-cuff improvisations about life as a kid in a steel town in Indiana, his time in the army, etc. The stories were often funny, but they were also filled […]

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The Drone Wars

Andy Blackadar

President Obama spoke today on an aspect of U.S. foreign policy that arose in the years after 9/11: the use of drones to attack suspected terrorists. Choices has a Teaching with the News lesson that helps students analyze the issues and controversies surrounding the U.S. use of drones. The lesson draws on three videos of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist […]

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Interesting Talk on North Korea

Andy Blackadar

Choices recorded this talk to teachers by Jonathan Pollack, a leading expert on North Korea. The talk was in 2009, but most all is extremely relevant given the events there right now. The talk has six parts, each fairly short, but packed with interesting information. A History of North Korea The Two Koreas A Nuclear […]

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Teaching About North Korea and Nuclear Weapons

Andy Blackadar

North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a reminder of the serious challenges facing the United States and other countries in the region. The video shows high school students doing the role-play simulation from Conflict on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea and the Nuclear Threat. Although the video was made before the February 13, 2013 test, it […]

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Is this America?

Andy Blackadar

On August 22, 1964, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer of Ruleville, Mississippi spoke to the Democratic National Convention and to a national television audience. As millions watched her speech on television, President Lyndon Johnson, who did not want political controversy to interrupt his march to his party’s nomination for the presidency, called a press conference to cut […]

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Be Kennedy

Andy Blackadar

Fifty years ago the United States and the Soviet Union came uncomfortably close to launching a nuclear war. What was it like to be John F. Kennedy during the missile crisis? Our friends at the Armageddon Letters produced this short video and others to engage young people in an exploration of this important topic, a […]

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Being Khrushchev

Andy Blackadar

This short film produced by Koji Masutani ’05 in collaboration with James Blight and janet Lang is part of a research effort called The Armageddon Letters. This multimedia project, based at the University of Waterloo, focuses on the most dangerous moment of the Cold War: the Cuban Missile Crisis. The project website when it is […]

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Revisiting Westward Expansion

Andy Blackadar

In recent years, scholars have worked to reexamine the history of the West by focusing on Native American groups. With limited sources, they have pieced together histories that do not generalize the experiences of Native Americans, and that accurately portray the complicated interactions that occurred in the West. A new curriculum resource from the Choices […]

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Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empiricism

Andy Blackadar

Afghanistan will continue to be a topic of debate in U.S. foreign policy, and will likely garner extra attention because of the presidential election.

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Events in Syria Bear Watching

Andy Blackadar

The situation in Syria continues to worsen. A UN sponsored commission, led by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, has just issued a report on the deteriorating conditions there and the suffering of civilians. Pinheiro, who collaborated with Choices on its human rights curriculum, testified today (12.2.11) in an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission, “The extreme […]

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Afghanistan Curriculum Materials

Andy Blackadar

Today we released our new curriculum materials on the U.S. role in Afghanistan. We’re excited! All of us have been working hard on this for parts of the last year. The video gives you a sense of the ideas and themes in the printed curriculum as well as the content of the Scholars Online videos. […]

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Great Resource on the Green Line

Andy Blackadar

An upcoming vote in the General Assembly of the UN on recognizing a Palestinian state is going to be getting more and more attention in the coming days. Here’s a useful resource from the New York Times on the role of the Green Line in Israeli-Palestinian relations. There’s a terrific animated map, four short videos […]

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Five Good Books on Afghanistan

Andy Blackadar

I am in the midst of developing curriculum materials on Afghanistan. Here are five books that I would recommend to anyone interested in the current situation, the country’s history and people, and the U.S. role there. The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946. Author: Vartan Gregorian. Written in 1969, this is […]

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Keep Your Eyes on Yemen and Syria

Andy Blackadar

While the media focuses on Libya, events in Yemen and Syria also deserve our attention. I think that the scale of the protests there suggest that change is coming soon. Al Jazeera English is giving it good coverage.

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Thirteen Days: More than One Option

Andy Blackadar

There’s a scene in the movie Thirteen Days when the actor playing Bobby Kennedy shouts, “No! No! No! There’s more than one option here.”
The film isn’t perfect, but it really does capture a sense of the tension and drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably it’s a great way to introduce high school students to this critical moment in history

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Teaching with the President’s Libya Speech

Andy Blackadar

President Obama’s speech last night had a few media pundits talking about an “Obama Doctrine.” Below is an excerpt from The U.S. Role in a Changing World that helps students think about the role of presidential doctrines in U.S. history and what an Obama Doctrine might actually be. Have students read the excerpt below and […]

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Economic Literacy

Andy Blackadar

Since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, The Choices Program has received numerous requests to develop curriculum materials for high school classrooms about international economics….

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