Attributes of a Civil Society

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners define justice, kindness, peace, and tolerance and describe the importance of these attributes of a civil society. They look for examples in the media and brainstorm how they can promote these attributes in their school, community, and the world. 

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Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define vocabulary of justice and peace
  • role-play scenarios of the lack of peace, justice, tolerance, and kindness.
  • identify these concepts in the news.
  • brainstorm actions they can take to promote justice and peace.
  • Student copies of vocabulary handout
  • One teacher copy of the role-play suggestions handout
  • Internet access to view news articles
  • Four charts to hang around the classroom

Share and reflect on the symbolism: A world-wide project called The Thread Project: One World of Cloth celebrates diversity, encourages tolerance, and promotes compassionate communities. Seven cloth panels were woven from threads gathered from thousands of people of all faiths, cultures and ideologies from 70 countries covering seven continents and create one world cloth. The threads represent the fabric of everyday life and come from clothing, fishing rods, shoes, blankets, guitars and hundreds of other sources. Some threads reflect tragic events such as those gathered on the Killing Fields of Cambodia, from 9/11 families, and a Holocaust survivor. Other threads were spun with the joy of birth, marriage and celebration. The founder of the project said, “Some say the world is hanging on by a thread. I say a thread is all we need.” The cloth panels, which took nearly five years to complete, are exhibited to remind people that we are ultimately a global family of one, united by a common thread.
How does an art project create awareness and advocacy? What can we do to promote justice, tolerance, peace, and kindness?


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    On the four charts hung around the room, write the words justice, kindness, peace, and tolerance. Give each student a copy of the vocabulary handout so they can read the definitions of these words. Tell the class you want them to define these terms in their own words. Hold a discussion and come to a consensus on a class definition. Have a student write the class definition on the top of each chart. Draw a line under the definition and divide the rest of the chart into two columns. Put a plus at the top of one column and a minus at the top of the other.

  2. Divide the class into four groups. Assign each group one of the terms and give them the role-play suggestion for their term (cut apart the handout). Ask them to create a 30-second role-play using the idea on the piece of paper (or one of their own) to show how the absence of the concept would be played out.

  3. Discuss why justice, kindness, peace, and tolerance are necessary attributes in a civil society. Brainstorm antonyms for the vocabulary words (some are indicated on the role-play attachment).

  4. Organize the class into eight groups. Assign each group a topic: justice, kindness, peace, tolerance, injustice, meanness, violence, and intolerance.

  5. Students search for and print out news articles from reputable sources that reflect or illustrate their topic, and prepare to explain to the group how it illustrates the topic. Discuss that the media tends to focus on the negative, so encourage them to search for positive stories. They may look to social media and groups that try to promote positive stories.

  6. After the student groups collect several articles, group members decide in which column of the definition wall charts the chosen articles should be displayed (+ is justice; - is injustice). The articles may represent the presence or absence of their assigned attribute (justice/injustice, peace/violence, tolerance/intolerance or kindness/meanness). Some articles might be appropriate for more than one vocabulary wall chart.

  7. Give students time to do a walk-about in the room to scan each other’s articles.

  8. Brainstorm ideas about how they can personally promote these four positive attributes of a civil society in their school, community, and world.

  9. These can be used to set a focus for a service project promoting justice and kindness.


Teacher observation of learners will serve as the assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students take action to promote justic, kindness, tolerance, and peace in their school, community, or the world.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss civic virtue and its role in democracy.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.