This module is a resource for lecturers   




This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.

The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the key issues of the Module.


Exercise 1: I am Malala

Ask the students to reflect on the following questions, drawing on the pre-assigned reading of the excerpt (pp. 183-190) from I Am Malala:

  • Can diversity principles ignore the teachings of prevailing local religions that in this case might encourage discrimination against girls and women?
  • What can Malala's father's behaviour tell us about diversity, tolerance and pluralism?

Lecturer guidelines

Give the students a few minutes to write down their answers, and then ask them to advocate their views and listen carefully to the views of others. Make sure to encourage as many of them as possible to participate in the discussion.


Exercise 2: DNA testing video

Introduce students to the complexity of the concepts of diversity, tolerance and pluralism, by showing them this eight-minute documentary that demonstrates our common ancestry and mixed racial and geographical backgrounds. The short video is about a group of people from diverse background who underwent a DNA test that had surprising results about their racial identity and heritage.


Lecturer guidelines

After watching the video, encourage the students to analyse the video and its implications by addressing the following three questions:

  • Whether it is literally accurate or not, the spirit of the research suggests we are all related and unaware of the full spectrum of our origins. Do you think that is true?
  • What are the implications of this thinking for your own sense of identity and that of your family and friends?
  • How does this sense of identity change your relationships with others and your interaction with those who seem "different"?

Give the students a few minutes to write down their answers, and then ask them to advocate their views and listen carefully to the views of others. Make sure to encourage as many of them as possible to participate in the discussion. If time permits, have the students first consider the issues in small groups before discussing them with the entire class.

The lecturer could also choose to assign and discuss the following questions:

  • Should we just accept what this video communicates? Or should we try to also find out if it is scientifically accurate?
  • How do you think you would find out if it is accurate?

The lecturer could ask the students to read this article which addresses some of the issues covered in the video.


Exercise 3: Mandela's The Long Walk to Freedom

This exercise asks students to draw on the pre-assigned reading of the excerpt (pp. 50-55) from The Long Walk to Freedom. The excerpt describes Nelson Mandela's first major ethical/racial (in)justice case, when his university president threatens him with expulsion if he does not violate the wishes of other students he represents who are involved in a boycott and school election.

Lecturer guidelines

In small groups, ask students to discuss what they would have done if they were in Mandela's shoes. In particular, ask them to address these three questions:

  • In the excerpt you have just read, how do we make judgments about their behaviour? Is either person morally correct? Or are both of them right "in their own way"?
  • How might you have handled the problems based upon race, role, and age emphasized in this excerpt?
  • Education is supposed to help diminish intolerance, ignorance, and discrimination. And yet Mandela experienced what he called institutional racism in this case within his own university. Are educational courses like this one an antidote to racism or does higher education embalm and transmit "eternal" problems of human nature which cannot be changed in diversity and ethics courses? How important and practical is what we are doing in this class?

Ask the students to choose a spokesperson who can report the group's answers to the class. The spokesperson should explain the rationale for why the group chose their answers, and give a "minority report" on behalf of any member of the group who had a different opinion.

Another version of this exercise would be to ask two students to conduct a role play of Nelson Mandela's ethical dilemma, and then ask the other students to discuss the case study they have just seen enacted by addressing the above three questions.


Exercise 4: Video montage of three moral role models

The lecturer shows a video montage of three different moral role models - Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Bayard Rustin, and subsequently leads a discussion of differences and commonalities of the three role models, particularly focusing on their approach to ethics and diversity. The video montage starts with minutes 6-20 of the film Gandhi, then includes the beginning of chapter 11 of the film The Letters (about Mother Teresa) and continues with the beginning of chapter 16 of Brother Outsider (about Bayard Rustin).

Lecturer guidelines

Give the students a few minutes to think about - and perhaps even to write down their thoughts about - the differences and commonalities of the three role models in terms of their approach to ethics and diversity. Subsequently, ask them to advocate their views and listen carefully to the views of others. Make sure to encourage as many of them as possible to participate in the discussion.

Exercise 5: An Intersectional Constitution

In this exercise, students are asked to take on the persona of different religious/cultural/ideological figures, and develop a short constitution with a bill of rights for the society in which they will live together.

All roles should be ones that are committed to the exercise, i.e., students cannot claim that they are individuals who would resist the entire project. Possible roles to take may include:

  • Hindu activist from India
  • Chinese Communist party member
  • American transgender activist
  • Palestinian Hamas leader
  • Venezuelan Catholic liberation theologian
  • Any other role that would be relevant in that particular context

This short constitution should reflect their differences and yet also provide protection to ensure that those differences do not prevent a functioning social and political system. The students should be asked to think about questions of intersectionality and pluralism as they develop their constitutional framework.

The students should be given time to research and understand their roles, before they begin to develop the document.

Lecturer guidelines

The roles assigned to the students can also be a mix of male and female, and can be expanded to whatever the lecturer thinks is most relevant to the context in which the Module is being taught. Some roles might be too controversial for certain contexts, but the point is to encourage students to think outside of their particular framework, so taking on different roles is an important challenge to them.

In writing a constitution, students should look at the constitution of the country in which they live. Almost all constitutions share similar features. They begin with a Preamble which sets out the purpose and goals of their country. This is a place where they can articulate the importance of diversity or multiculturalism. Constitutions then include articles on how laws are made (a legislature), who enforces the laws (the executive) and who makes judgments about the laws (the judiciary). They should also include a list of rights which can focus on individuals, groups, or even things like the environment.


Exercise 6: Model United Nations simulation

Ask the students to choose the country that they will defend in a small Model United Nations simulation, ideally one which is not their own, nor one they know well. They will also choose a debate topic they will defend. Students will sit around a large table with placards in front of them with the name the countries they researched and represent the perspective of that country. They will each advocate for the unique ethical systems or policies in the country they represent. Students may give short reports or, if time permits, challenge or cooperate with the other "diplomats" at the table to learn more about the other countries represented around the table and their ethics system(s).

Lecturer guidelines

The UNODC Model United Nations Resource Guide provides a helpful overview of Model United Nations simulations, and offers guidance on how to conduct them.

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