Social Justice Projects for High School Students

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Fighting for social justice is part of being active as a democratic citizen. We can encourage our students to embrace this opportunity by involving them in social justice projects. Here are a few ideas you can implement.

High School Social Justice Projects

High school students are at an age where they can really begin to have an impact on the world and get involved with everything from politics to grassroots social justice movements. As they become increasingly engaged in the world around them, we have an opportunity to help build them up as democratic citizens, and encourage them to feel like they have an important role to play. Indeed, we need to teach social justice directly, both its history, its present, and the potential future battles that may come.

Since social justice is all about people speaking out and getting involved, it makes sense to teach this in a hands-on way through projects. In this lesson, we are going to go through a few possible ideas for social justice projects in which high school students can get involved.

Bullying Stories

Bullying remains a major problem across the world. It leads to countless children having far lower self-esteem and confidence than they would otherwise have. In the worst cases, it can lead to suicide. Indeed, high school students are among the most at risk. So, while social justice tends to focus on big questions like sexual orientation or religious freedom, bullying is no less important.

For this project, have students collect anonymous stories about bullying experiences. The stories can be both stories of being bullied, stories of seeing bullying and not acting, and stories of acting when it mattered. The stories can come from students at the school, students at other schools, parents, and teachers. Students can collect the stories, and stitch them together into a narrative about the importance of acting when you see bullying, and the negative effects it can have. Students can choose how to present that material: a poster, a dramatic video, and audio podcast, a narrative movie - whatever they find interesting and engaging. Students can then present their work to the class, and the presentation that is voted the best can even be presented to the whole grade or school.

Fair or Unfair

Social justice at its heart is often about fairness. A lot of people like to think that life is fair; if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll be successful. However it isn't difficult to show that this is not always the case. In this project, have students find articles and stories from the media showing both the fairness and unfairness in life. Students should find stories centered around a particular theme: economic injustice, women's rights, etc.

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