History Project 1: War & Judgment

chris-hedges-if-we-really-saw-war“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”

― Chris HedgesEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle



In the tradition of Hannah Arendt, William Faulkner, Chris Hedges and the many other public intellectuals who have encouraged us to measure civilization, in this class we will both interrogate and indict history.

My two favorite metaphors for the work we do as historians are that of the journalist and the lawyer: one who investigates and the other who litigates. We will put explore history and then put in on trial. Our purpose is not to learn a narrative, but to judge interpretations of the past in order to develop an intellectual community that thrives on critical compassion.

This will be practiced directly and authentically through your first project.


 Project Description

Each student must work individually or as a member of a team to create an investigative-journalism website that must be re-presented through the web sites of each member of each journalism group. This project is required of all students, but some future projects will be specifically for higher-level students.

The focus of your work will be to publish and distribute an original work of historically-informed investigative journalism that utilizes your knowledge of past wars to analyze current ones. You will have specific technological and historical requirements for your publication, and your choice of regional focus will also play into who you work with and the nature of the wars you analyze—and how you analyze them.

At various point in the project, you will be responsible for submitting proposals in the form of letters and reports. Ensure that all such proposals follow formal profession guidelines. (Please see…)

Practically, your website must be populated by a variety of multimedia reporting. You will new required to choose 3 or more of the following with the total requirement being based on the size of your group.

1. Options:

  1. Multimedia editorial on a past or current war
  2. Documentary footage of past or current war (Syria, Afghanistan, etc.)
  3. Filmed newscast on a current or past war
  4. Filmed trial of a current totalitarian/authoritarian leader and/or war leader (Joseph Kony/George Bush)
  5. Filmed interview of a current or past war leader
  6. Filmed United Nations debate simulation
  7. A substantive Buzzfeed type quiz or article (2) (3)
  8. A substantive 9Gag reel
  9. Animation
  10. Poetry
  11. Interactive or static artwork
  12. Interpretative dance or music performance
  13. A spoken word performance
  14. A movie trailer
  15. A music video
  16. Your idea?


2. Tools and training at your disposal:

  • The Internet: no kidding!.


3. Expectations

 Technology Expectations Content Expectations
Core Requirements: 

  • Graphic design element (multiple perspectives)
  • Video
  • Audio (various options)
  • Website design and maintenance

◦       New or established sites



 Device/App Requirements:

  • Use of Cameras
  • Digital Devices
  • iMovie or other video editing applications
  • Garageband or other sound editing applications


Additional Requirements:


  • Your special touch…
Core Requirements:

  • The critical, comparative, Arendtian analysis of three wars
  • Written element
  • Research Element (reading list)
  • Multimedia element
  • Public distribution



Component Elements 

  • Trial
  • Interview
  • Engaging screencast
  • RSA Animate
  • Newscast
  • Roleplay
  • Documentary
  • Feature film (10 mins)



Historical Skill Requirements: 

  • Frequent references to historiography and theory
  • Emphasized CCOT analysis of historical precedent and current parallel
  • Embedded structural analysis
  • Embedded Arendtian analysis



War of the World Requirements

  • No matter your new specialization, you must base your work around the Vietnam War, then:

◦       Two wars from your region, one current and one at least a decade old.

◦       Please see:

▪       Past wars emphasized by IB

▪       The Uppsala Conflict Data Program 

  • You must clearly show that you address all of the major and minor themes that IB History emphasizes in your collective work. Please see
  • Find a way to firmly establish the context of the modern war
  • Pick theories to highlight the major features of wars as we have studied them
  • Break down your analysis into the sub-sections of causes, practices and effects as we have practiced


4. Process: Plan, Design, Develop, Deploy

 Plan: how the Products will be Developed

  1. Form teams
    1. Identify talent and skill sets
    2. Present skills & talents toward determining project specializations & responsibilities
  2. Develop a design brief
    1. Identify, formulate and discuss appropriate questions that guide the investigation with your team
    2. Identify and acknowledge a range of appropriate sources of information
      1. Textual
      2. Online
      3. Documentary
    3. Collect, analyze, select, organize and evaluate information
  3. Develop a design specification that meets the basic requirements listed above (250+ words)
    1. Format
    2. Clients/audience
      1. The general public
      2. IB students
      3. College students
      4. Teachers
      5. Youtubers (look at John Green)
    3. Evenly distributed duties and responsibilities of team members
  1. Create a rubric for successful completion of the project
  2. Negotiate with your supervisor

Design Your Products

  1. Generate several feasible designs that meet the design specification
  2. Evaluate the designs against the design specification
  3. Select one design and justify its choice.
  4. Construct a plan to create the product/solution that has a series of logical steps
  5. Construct a plan to create the product/solution that makes effective use of resources and time
  6. Evaluate the plan and justify any modifications to the design.
      1. Arrange meeting with Mr. T
      2. Discuss adjustments and receive approval
      3. Design rubric (You will be taught how to do this)
      4. Receive final approval for rubric

Develop Your Products

  1. Use appropriate techniques and equipment competently
  2. Ensure a safe working environment for yourself and others
  3. Follow the plan to produce the product/solution
  4. Evaluate the plan and justify any changes to the plan (when necessary)
  5. Create a product/solution of appropriate quality

Deploy Your Products

  1. Submit text elements of website to Turnitn by December 1st
  2. Submit website by due date (December 9th)
  3. Distribute to clients and audience via social media (Facebook, Twitter, school website, etc.)
  4. Receive final grade and evaluate publication potential


Suggested Timeline: 

  • Plan & Write Design Brief: until…October 25th
  • Design:until…November 20th
  • Develop: …up until December 5th (negotiate and finalize)
  • Deploy and submit: December 9th
  • Review and revise (Ongoing until at least June 2016)


NOTE: The quality of your work will be expected to be HIGH. Examples will be provided. Awareness of the aesthetics of image and sound is considered a BASIC standard. We are not looking for goofy Vines, we expect polished sites, videos and stills produced with high quality audio, imagery and design.