How to Sign In
American Government and Politics Blog
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
North Korea, A Discussion

Current events discussions are difficult in class these days.  Students who would not have spoken out a few years ago now have strong opinions and are not afraid to express them.  Our students are also interested in debating current events, and the effectiveness of our leaders.  They are passionate but often lack the facts.  This week, I wanted to challenge my students to discuss, evaluate and express their informed opinions.  They must discuss the North Korean talks, but they have to use data from neutral sources.  To ensure full coverage of the topic students are divided into groups by their last names and their instructions include their resources.


The goal is simple, to have students discuss the issues without evaluating leaders. 


They are entitled to their opinions and they will only be graded on how they use the facts provided to prove their points.  Check out my assignment below and join the conversation.  How will you cover current events this week? 



The Prompt


This week President Trump flew to Hanoi, Vietnam to meet with Kim Jong Un for a historic summit.  The issues surrounding North Korea are complex, the negotiations will take time and may or may be successful.  The goal of this discussion is to allow you to explore one portion of the conflict with North Korea in detail and discuss its impact on the world and the country.  Please describe the impact of your assigned topic and then compare it to two different classmates’ assignments. 


  • The Scope of UN Sanctions: What are they and are they working? - Last Names A-H
  • Proof of North Korea’s Nuclear Program: What intelligence do we have proving the existence of their nuclear program? Have they fulfilled their pledge to denuclearize since the last meeting between leaders? - Last Names I-P
  • Korean Unification: Would you support it? Do North and South Koreans support it? - Last Names Q-Z

Grading Criteria


For a satisfactory score, your initial responses should include specific support from course materials, including any readings, videos, or lecture notes, your own experiences, or other sources as detailed in the assignment instructions.   Each post should include citations for the sources of your specific information.


You should also respond in a substantive way to other students, moving the conversation forward, presenting an alternative viewpoint, or providing additional support for the classmates’ ideas.   Supporting information is expected in those responses as well.  Thorough, conscientious participation throughout the week will be rewarded. There is no right or wrong answer and some answers will be common sense.  Please refrain from discussing world leaders.  This purpose of this forum is to evaluate current world issues and enhance your ability to present your researched opinions.



Please use the following sources to complete the assignment. While the sources for this assignment are provided you are still required to cite your sources in your posts.


  1. New York Times Photo Essay of North Korea
  2. Making Sense of UN Sanctions on North Korea, An Interactive from the Carnegie Endowment for Internat...
  3. Voice of American, Nuclear North Korea

Reuters Graphics North Korea in Graphics  


President Trump returned unsuccessfully from the meeting. How does that impact student responses to the questions above and how will you engage your students this week?


GREAT way to try to get students to focus on the issues. It's much too easy these days to have discussions go off on tangents on topics like this. I can imagine plenty of Ad Hominem attacks. Nice way to try to sideline those.


Yes; I love this. Current and very organized!

My students love to talk about politics but are generally going off of a very light skim of daily news. We can't really delve into too much of it in class, but I do bring in data on political surveys (Gallup, PewResearch) and have them read articles on controversial topics with lots of data in them.

I'm thinking it's good to get them discussing personally (not just in a paper) but they'd likely be nervous to do it as a class.  Maybe you could have them form small groups to present their side of the issue, but you would absolutely have to be monitoring groups closely to make sure they didn't get into any heated arguments.  Learning to discuss differing opinions factually and with an open mind is a super tough skill to teach.

Great way to get them engaged with what is going on in the news, not just on social media
Frequent Commenter

Interesting idea! I enjoy reading examples of what others are doing in class. 

Valued Contributor

Great idea! Definitely provides ideas for innovative discussions in class to engage students.