Slavery has been part of the human condition for centuries. Although largely outlawed in modern times, human bondage still exists today in various forms, including sexual trafficking, domestic servitude and illegal work conditions. Why has slavery been an accepted part of numerous civilizations through time? Why does slavery continue to exist today in various forms around the world?
With these questions in mind, AntiquityNOW has launched The Slavery Project (TSP), which comprises curricula designed to explore slavery’s history, the social and political conditions that gave rise to it, the psychology of human bondage and the conditions today that continue its practice.
The Slavery Project is an ongoing, interactive series of modules that incorporates lesson plans along select historical plotlines detailing slavery in a particular society during a specific period. TSP is designed to provide students an immersive experience where a culture is explored according to the social, cultural, political and economic conditions of the time. Analysis is then given as to how a people create structures incorporating enslavement as an ethos and practice, and the underlying psychological factors that are present that justify, reconcile and accept human bondage as integral and even necessary to a society. Modern day investigation will consider cultures where slavery is illegal yet continues to exist in an underground economy supported by human exploitation, and countries where slavery openly exists and is often condoned by governments and accepted as part of societal norms. Of course, antislavery sentiments and actions will also be analyzed as to how and why opposition to a prevailing ideology arises and under what conditions change occurs.
The goals of The Slavery Project are to develop and strengthen the following skills in students:
- Critical thinking
- Research, including synthesis of extensive and varied sources, both historical and contemporary
- Cross-cultural analysis and comparison
- Intra-cultural analysis and comparison: examination of competing political and societal values in a society (i.e., slavery v. abolition)
- Storytelling and other arts to encourage immersion in historical context
- Technology as a tool for interpretative understanding of material (e.g., using Minecraft and 3D printing)
A featured component of The Slavery Project is that of the Triangular Trade prior to the Civil War in the United States. Working with AntiquityNOW are Peter Albert, an instructor at the Hun School in Princeton, NJ, who has developed a curriculum for this period, and Bernard Means, PhD., director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, who has created specifications for 3D copies of artifacts from this time. A series of images constructed by students using Minecraft, a popular online game, will provide visuals of structures such as a slave ship and a plantation.
AntiquityNOW will be a presenter at the November 2015 annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in New Orleans. The goals for this presentation are to introduce teachers to the dimensions of The Slavery Project, to show them how Minecraft, 3D printing and immersive elements can connect students to bygone times, and to encourage them to submit their own classroom-inspired modules to The Slavery Project.
In upcoming blog posts we’ll be unveiling elements of the Triangular Trade curriculum. To get us started, below is a video selected by Albert to introduce his students to the issue of slavery through time.