Ah, what's DDT, and why should I care?

Ronald R. Rodgers| University of Florida

I knew from experience that my students' understanding of cultural literacy was fairly shallow, but when I discovered one semester that most of them had no idea what DDT was, how it was related to the modern environmental movement and its linkage to the near demise of our nation's symbol - the bald eagle - and how DDT was back in the news as a debatable solution to the malaria plague, I decided it was time to incorporate into my editing lectures a weekly sampling of topics I felt any budding journalist should have some familiarity with. These cultural literacy items are on my editing lecture syllabus, and each of them links to a brief summary of the item. I test students on these both in 10 unannounced news / cultural literacy quizzes and in the tests they take during the semester.

This is certainly an arbitrary and subjective list, and I recognize that there are certainly many more items that could be added to the list or substituted as much more relevant. I, myself, am already thinking about adding many more civics-related items. But, alas, it is a beginning. The need to do this certainly raises issues about where these sorts of things should be taught. Is this really the job of a journalism department?

Related to this list, this link was sent to me by a student who enjoyed my cultural literacy assignments. She tells me another prof had used it in another class. This is from a site maintained by ninth-grade teacher Tracy Oz, and, according to her site, folks are welcome to use it.

"We Didn't Start the Fire": the history behind Billy Joel's song.

The Web sites below are also in the Word document under "Resources" at left.

For Week 2

Cuban Missile Crisis
antitrust legislation
arbitration
Web 2.0
affirmative action
amicus curiae
block grant
Rupert Murdoch
broad construction
blue laws
checks and balances
clear and present danger
civil liberties
Cesar Chavez
Hugo Chavez

For Week 3

civil liberties
cloture
FISA
coattail effect
conscientious objector
containment, policy of
dark horse
de facto segregation
domino theory
double jeopardy
due process of law
Sunni Islam
Shia Islam
Sharia

For Week 4

Eastern Establishment
Electoral College
laissez-faire
entitlements
equal protection of the laws
Equal Rights Amendment
fellow traveler
filibuster
History of filibuster
franchise
gender gap
gerrymander
fairness doctrine

For Week 5

gunboat diplomacy
habeas corpus
libertarianism
anarchism
hawks and doves
lame duck
line-item veto
logrolling
military-industrial complex
Miranda decision
narrow construction
nolo contendere

For Week 6

patronage
pocket veto
political action committees
poll tax
pork-barrel legislation
quorum rider
rugged individualism
segregation
separate but equal

For Week 7

slush fund
smoke-filled room
stare decisis
states� rights
suffrage
the Ugly American
Bakke decision
Bay of Pigs
big stick diplomacy
Black Muslims
Title IX

For Week 8

Black Panthers
Chappaquiddick incident
Civil Rights Act of 1964
My Lai massacre
New Deal
New Left
Plessy versus Ferguson
Progressive movement
Roe versus Wade
spoils system

For Week 9

Voting Rights Act of 1965
women�s movement
yellow journalism
Yellow Peril
ABM Treaty
anarchism
anti-Semitism
apartheid
balkanization
banana republics
caging (voter suppression)

For Week 10

bicameral legislature
brinkmanship
Kyoto Protocol
chauvinism
civil disobedience
coup d��tat
cultural imperialism
demagogue
despotism
d�tente
ethnic cleansing

For Week 11

Geneva Conventions
genocide
glasnost
global village
gulag
intifada
jingoism
junta
neocolonialism
NGOs
cloture

For Week 12

oligarchy
ombudsman
pogrom
rapprochement
realpolitik
smart weapons
theocracy
zero-sum game
Zionism
affluent society

For Week 13

bear market
bourgeoisie
bull market
capital gain
Caveat emptor
Chapter 11 bankruptcy
closed shop
eminent domain
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
golden parachute

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