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Critical Reflections Drawing on Readings and Events

Page history last edited by Andrew 12 years, 1 month ago


Below is a list of links to reflections incorporating provocative readings and discussion about current events, philosophical ideas, and broader themes connected to the Bonner Common Commitments. These reflections focus providing exposure to noteworthy authors, playwrights, and other thinkers, which students may also be encountering in their coursework and connecting these resources to Bonner Commitments and Sources.


The reflections below are made available so that you can use them in your meetings, programs, or other reflection activities. Feel free to create links to new Wiki pages containing reflections that you have created for reflection in your own Bonner Programs. Go here for a short tutorial on how to create your own links and reflection Wiki pages.


AIDS Day Reflection:

The purpose of this reflection is to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic and the effect it has on the world and our more local communities. The reflection explores how AIDS is tied into other social, economic, political, and even religious problems and struggles. More than 39 million people around the world are living with HIV – slightly more than the population of Poland. Nearly two-thirds of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the dramatic rise in cases among women is particularly evident. More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981. If no improvements are made, reports suggest that the number of new infections could be as high as 45 million by 2010. This reflection engages participants in reading a few key articles (easily web-accessible) and considering some of the ramifications and applications within their own context, projects, and actions.



Arthur Miller’s “An Enemy of the People” Reflection on Democracy:

This reflection looks critically at democracy through the eyes of Henrik Ibsen’s play “An Enemy of the People” as retold by Arthur Miller (author of “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible”). It attempts to apply the questions raised by this play to America and contemporary and historical situations. This reflection is not a condemnation of democracy or a support for alternative government styles. It is a criticism, and as such should inspire us to think about things that citizens often take for granted. The reflection includes some analytical questions that engage participants in analyzing elements from the play and applying these concepts to their own contemporary situations and interpretations about government.


Coretta Scott King: Reflections on Her Life

This reflection engages participants in considering the life of Coretta Scott King through her work and through the words expressed by fellow Americans at the news of her death. This exercise provides a unique opportunity to not only celebrate Black History but also to discuss the ideals of Mrs. King and American progress towards justice and liberty. The reflection draws on King’s biography as well as quotes from a variety of individuals made in celebrating her life, and offers provocative questions for discussion.


Federal Budget Analysis Exercise

This exercise is intended to look at the discretionary federal budget, which makes up 1/3 of total federal spending. This will provide a chance to compare what we think it is important for the government to focus on vs. what the government actually does. It includes a great interactive activity where students create a federal budget and then compare theirs to the real one.


Grapes of Wrath and the Living Wage

This reflection looks through the eyes of one of America’s literary giants, John Steinbeck, at the contemporary debate surrounding the ‘living wage’. Using quotes from The Grapes of Wrath, the activity engages students in examining Steinbeck’s social theory and criticism to see if it is relevant for today’s America. It raises prevalent social and economic issues in a way that also connects them with the historical legacy of immigrants and workers.


Kurt Vonnegut’s Reflections on Poverty

This reflection uses excerpts from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five to understand and contemplate the notion of the American Dream and meritocracy and to raise questions about who in society has not benefited from the distribution of wealth and opportunity. It engages students in asking about the treatment and livelihoods of poor people within society, the struggles they face, and what can be done about poverty.


Liberty and Dr. Martin Luther King

This activity engages students in reading and analyzing some of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King given in his 1964 acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. In these, Dr. King discusses the social problems that threaten American ideals of freedom, liberty, and democracy. This is an excellent way to involve students in deeper discussion of the link between ideals and reality and in a broader understanding of civic engagement.


Rosa Parks and Her Life

This exercise engages students in examining the life and story of Rosa Parks to understand how it has been presented throughout history and how that presentation has shaped our view of the Civil Rights Movement. It is important to understand how this shapes our view of service and greatness in general and then what our view of figures like Rosa Parks (as an example) does to the way we approach service in our own lives.


The Life of Pi and Night

The following reflections engage students in reading and thinking critically about the Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Night by Elie Wiesel. It raises questions about faith and religion and the roles that these beliefs systems can and have played both for constructive and destructive impulses and events. It engages students in grappling with their own deepest beliefs and moral values.


Victor Hugo’s Perspective on America Thought Exercise

This reflection integrates the writing of Victor Hugo, whose work includes Les Miserables, to provoke reflection about the sometimes controversial decisions of the American government about protecting the rights of people in the United States and protecting the country from potential dangers. It asks students to consider the implications of decisions made in times of war or ‘high terror alert” in contrast to the ideas of one priest and his approach to treating neighbors in Les Miserables. This reflection addresses some of the deeper issues about themes like security, national and global citizenship, and the tradeoffs that individuals and governments face.


Reflection Template

This link leads to a Template to be used when creating Reflections to add to the current Wiki page. This template can be accessed when creating a new page for a Reflection that you have developed. See the Tutorial for more information on how to add your own pages.

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