Teaching Controversial Issues: Framing Issues and Choosing Pedagogical Approaches Resources

Resources from the Teaching Cafe & Faculty Learning Community (FLC)

alphabetical by author/organization

Professional Development Pack for Teaching of Controversial Issues (Council of Europe)

SAC Handouts (Deliberating in a Democracy in the Americas)

Facilitating Political Discussions (Hand)

What Should We Teach as Controversial (Hand)

Hess 2009 Intro, ch. 3&7 (Hess)

Putting Politics Where It Belongs: In the Classroom (Hess & Gatti)

The Political Classroom Resources (Hess & McAvoy)

Teacher Political Disclosure as Parrhēsia (Journell)

Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age (Kahne & Bowyer)

Discussing Controversial Issues: Four Perspectives (Kelly)

Socratic Seminar (National Paideia Center)

Teaching with and for discussion (Parker & Hess)

Difficult Dialogues (Vanderbilt)


The Political Classroom

About the Teaching Cafe

Oct. 30 | 11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. in Malloy 230 & Oct. 31 | 12–1 p.m. in UC 402/403

Conflicts in the U.S. and abroad are making educators pay increasing attention to how we teach controversial issues in ways that cultivate inquiry, critical thinking, and political consciousness. This teaching cafe grew out of last year’s Faculty Learning Community on the same topic. The cafe focused on how to frame controversies we want to explore with students, and how to choose pedagogical approaches to teach them. It addressed questions such as the following: Is a particular issue open or is it settled? Is it empirical or normative? What kinds of questions will frame the issue so that students examine multiple perspectives on it? The cafe also addressed how to choose pedagogical methods to use in class, for example, structured academic controversy, case study, role play, and more. On Oct. 30, the cafe was led by Judy Pace (Teacher Education) and Karen Bouwer (Modern and Classical Languages). On Oct. 31, it was led by Judy Pace and Michelle LaVigne (Rhetoric & Language).

About the Faculty Learning Community (FLC)

Teaching Controversial Issues Facilitators: Candice Harrison (History) and Judy Pace (Teacher Education)

At USF our Jesuit mission sets the expectation that faculty teach students to examine significant moral, social, and political questions from diverse perspectives. Our politically turbulent climate makes this expectation even more urgent. This Faculty Learning Community explored the challenges and opportunities embedded in teaching controversial issues, and a variety of strategies to navigate them. Led by two facilitators grounded in research and practice, the FLC explored different approaches; contextual factors such as race, class, immigration status, gender/sexuality, and religion; and dilemmas such as conflicting rights. Participants reflected on our own and our students’ positionalities in regard to power and identity as these shape our facilitation of classroom inquiry and discourse. And we drew on our different areas of expertise to learn from one another about controversial issues teaching informed by democratic values.