Link to What's New This Week Amnesty International: Urgent Actions

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Shared Reading, Amnesty International

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 16, 2004
Latest Update: July 16, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Urgent Actions

  1. Introduction Why I chose to share this reading.
  2. Focus: Main point of this reading.
  3. Reading Full identification of source for reading AND excerpt.
  4. Concepts: Concepts and Key Words.
  5. Discussion Discussion questions.
  6. Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses What this has to do with our class.

* * *


  • I wanted to share this portion of my exchange with the Amnesty International live chat, so that you would recognize that there are things you can do as an individual that will have an effect. And so that you will become aware of such information archived for you out there on the Internet. Silence promotes hegemony. Work hard at finding ways to break that silence.


  • I want you to discover that there are many groups out there, worthy of your support, in which you can make your voice heard. I would, of course, tend to offer you the radical left perspective. That is my bias. But you will find many organizations and groups that support every range of the continuum. Seek what fits you best, and lend your voice. Your vote counts. But so does your voice.

Concepts and Key Words:

  • urgent action - situation in which an organization wants to bombard those with decision-making power with their validity claim. Instrumental discourse - you're trying to persuade them to do what you believe is right.


  • Amnesty International announces one of their live chats, where you can ask questions and have discourse with those who are knowledgeable about the topic: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Urgent Actions, But Were Afraid To Ask
    July 7, 2004.

    "Question Submitted by Jeanne:

    Is it effective to place several signatures on one letter, or is it more effective for us to provide samples and ask our students to each write his/her own? A university teacher.

    UAN Staff answers:

    "Who knows what is more effective? This is what my experience indicates to me: it can be very effective to have a 6-week global Urgent Action campaign which results in appeals arriving in different languages and different formats. So, a letter-petition - a letter signed by many people- can be a strong statement of concern. Many letters, based on sample texts and those that are written individually are also great ways to express concern. The idea is that the mix of kinds of appeals will likely be effective. Also, practically speaking, there are times when you know it is more likely that you will get 20 students to sign a letter which has already been written than to get those 20 students to sit down with blank sheets of paper and write their own appeals. We would love it if they did, but it doesn't always happen. So you have to go with what produces something that can be sent to an official, even if it is only one letter. -Scott"

  • Doing Something About Human Rights with Amnesty International and the Naked Space. Covers the live chat above and has a separate set of discussion questions.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is better about sending off a letter with 20 signatures than asking 20 students to write and send their own letters?

    Consider the likelihood that the task will actually be carried through. Consider also that many signatures gathered together in one document is also impressive.

  2. Things to be considered in answer.

  3. Do you think?

Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses:

  • Agencies:
    Sample linking: Ways in which underlying assumptions of assimilation affect services offered and clients' ability to access and use those services. How does this reading illustrate the need for social agencies, for more generalized agencies, for what Bolman and Deal would call "leadership" AND "management"? How does this reading suggest ways in which we could be more effective in rendering help, and what is the reading's relationship to a "safety net" for those who need help?

  • Criminal Justice:
    Sample linking: Ways in which some groups are underrepresented in the unstated assumptions of our theories. How does this reading serve to illustrate adversarialism, mutuality, retribution, revenge, illocutionary understanding, the definition and operation of the criminal justice system?

  • Law:
    Sample linking: Extent to which laws are made on the assumption that we are all essentially assimilated to the dominant culture. How does this reading help us see the need for contextual readings in law? How does it relate to our natural instincts to seek some kind of natural law? What facts and principles does the reading offer for discourse that could clarify for Others validity claims presented by an Obscure Other?

  • Moot Court:
    Sample linking: Ways in which to make validty claims of harm understood by those who have never experienced many of the world's different perspectives. How can this reading enlighten our praxis in terms of different kinds of discourse, like instrumental, illocutionary, governance?

  • Women in Poverty:
    Sample linking: The culture of poverty and assimilation. How does the reading deal with our underlying assumptions about poverty, especially poverty of the exploited, the NOT- male? What does the reading suggest of the interrelationship between our society and its children, generally cared for by women, often poor?

  • Race, Gender, Class:
    Sample linking: The extent to which silence has been imposed by these affiliations so that domination and discrimination have entered our unstated assumptions in interpersonal relations and the structural context arising from them. What does the reading tell us about exploitation and alternative ways to deal with one another? What does it tell us about institutionalized -isms and our denial of complicity? What does it tell us about our common humanity?

  • Religion:
    Sample linking: The spiritual component. Humans are spiritual creatures, creatures that recognize moments that go beyond ourselves to God, Allah, Isis, Gaia, the Universe, or a deep sense of responsibility to create our own meanng. How does the reading fit into our ability, our need to create such meaning in life?

  • Love !A:
    Sample linking: What's the aesthetic link in this reading? How does it bring us closer to one another as humans? What does it tell us about our need for love, unconditional love, not rewards for doing well or being well, but caring and acceptance for being who we are?

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.