Teachers > Justice & Reconciliation > Lesson Introduction
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This is one of six modules of What Does It Mean to Be an American?,

a curriculum resource designed for high school and college classrooms. 

In this lesson, students will examine the meaning of justice and the roles that justice and reconciliation play in society. As a case study, students read about the Japanese American redress movement, which spanned the 1960s to 1980s, and assess its value, both to the Japanese American community specifically and to American society broadly. They then turn their attention to various modern-day social justice issues and generate their own ideas for how these issues might be addressed.

Lesson Introduction


What is justice?


What roles do justice and reconciliation play in society?

How and why did Japanese Americans organize to demand redress from the U.S. government?


What responsibilities do governments have for righting past wrongs? What strategies can/should governments employ to do so?

Organizing Questions

In this lesson students:

Think critically about the definition and nature of justice

Understand the role and value of justice in society

Learn about the Japanese American redress movement in the 1960s to 1980s

Evaluate the success of the Japanese American redress movement in achieving justice and reconciliation for the Japanese American community specifically and U.S. society at large

Be introduced to several contemporary social justice issues

Think critically about a contemporary social justice issue of their choice, and explore several possible ideas for addressing this issue in a successful manner


The following are suggestions for assessing student work in this lesson:

  1. Assess written responses to Case Study: The Japanese American Redress Movement based on students’ quality of thought and clarity of writing.

  2. Assess student research projects in Social Justice Today based on

    • quality and accuracy of research;

    • quality of thought regarding the student’s understanding of the issue itself and evaluation of possible solutions;

    • clarity of writing; and

    • use of appropriate and reliable sources.

  3. Assess written responses to Justice vs. Peace based on students’ quality of thought and clarity of writing.

  4. Assess group research projects in Alternative Models of Justice based on students’ quality of research and evaluation of their model’s merits and drawbacks.

  5. Assess student participation in group and class discussions, evaluating students’ ability to

    • clearly state their opinions, questions, and/or answers; 

    • exhibit sensitivity toward different cultures and ideas; 

    • respect and acknowledge other students’ comments;

    • ask relevant and insightful questions; and

    • provide correct and thoughtful answers to classmates’ questions.


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