The first step in the Urban Agenda process is to complete an issues agenda with your students. The list is best devised through the agenda building process. The agenda building process is a way to engage your students in the curriculum and get them thinking about issues. This process includes answering questions to cultivate thinking, group discussion and debate. By exploring answers to these questions, students are able to generate a list issues that concern them. These issues have ranged from local issues like school uniforms and run-down neighborhoods to national and international issues like teen suicide and foreign policy. It is truly amazing the range of issues that concern youth.
The agenda building questions are as follows:
1. Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
2. Where would you like to see your community in 5-10 years?
3. What are the issues that your class or school sees as most important?
4. How can we gain support for our agenda as youth of SE Michigan?
5. What types of community/governmental response would resolve these issues?
6. What kind of education is needed in order to better understand the issues?
One way to facilitate the process is to break the students in your class into small groups in order to address the questions. The group should come to some consensus over 1-3 issues. That means they decide which three issues are most important to them and prepare to defend those issues to their classmates. The class then comes together and presents the list of issues to the facilitator. After a master list is compiled, the debate and discussion can begin. The facilitator should allow students time to debate the issues and discuss why they should or should not be placed on the larger class agenda.
The goal is to have the class decide on their top 1-3 issues in order to get a sense of what issue(s) are of most concern. This list can be used to stimulate further conversation . It can also be used by the teacher in regards to modifying lessons to touch upon issues of student concern. Finally, the list can be used to start a service project within the school or class that will better assist society and America . Through this process students learn the importance of debate, discussion, compromise, conflict resolution and empathy .