Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. Research the history of racism, comparing the sociological, cultural, and economic impact of prejudice at different points in history. Outline groups who have been targeted for racism and comment about how they were persecuted and what happened to their oppressors.

2. Write a report about the eugenics movement, which sanctioned the reproduction only of wealthy, educated people with distinguished ancestors and the sterilization of impoverished people, often representing ethnic minorities or those of mixed heritage. Could Slytherin, the Malfoys, and other elite wizards and witches be considered eugenicists?

3. Explain the scientific principles that cause petrification of organic materials and list the objects that are usually petrified. Locate geographical sites where petrified items can be located. Would it be possible for a human to be petrified and survive? Discuss what petrification symbolizes in science and literature.

4. Research the human discovery and exploration of caves and subterranean spaces, describing how caves have been used for such purposes as shelters in war and to hide smuggled goods. Locate the site of several caves on a world map and write a report about a major cave system such as the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.

5. Locate information about a hate crime that occurred recently and compare that incident with an historic act of racial violence, such as a nineteenth-century lynching. Why was the victim selected? Who were the perpetrators and did they represent an organized group or did they act individually? Why were they prejudiced? Were they punished? How did the community react?

6. Write a paper about a group segregated because of their ethnic heritage such as how Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps during World War II and how Japanese-American soldiers fought courageously but were denied deserved Medals of Honor until the year 2000.

7. Discuss how affirmative action paradoxically helps and hinders minorities seeking employment opportunities and admission to schools. How does reverse discrimination affect the community? Comment on how racism affects politics.

8. Research the history of a specific extremist separatist movement such as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation, neo-Nazi skinheads, or militias. Compare that group’s beliefs and organization with those of a group, such as the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, which counters racial violence. How does each group convey a message of righteousness and validity?

9. Write a paper about how rhetoric and propaganda influence public opinion. Discuss how movies such as D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) reinforce racists’ justifications to achieve a purely white culture. How can misinformation cause paranoia and belief in conspiracies?

10. List stereotypes of ethnic groups such as Native Americans. Note how each group’s ethnic identity was preserved or destroyed through interaction and acculturation with other groups. Do members of the ethnic groups feel as if they belong to the larger group? Comment how genocide and segregation, such as the Holocaust and apartheid, affected group identity and how targeted minorities resisted such as protesting racist laws during the American Civil Rights Movement.