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Democracy Web

The Albert Shanker Institute and Freedom House have teamed up to create Democracy Web, an online resource that provides a way for teachers to discuss the complex topic of "freedom" within the subjects of government, history, language and social studies.

The site features an interactive "Map of Freedom," a world map color-coded to show the extent to which citizens of individual countries are free. Links from each country show more information about that country and the rights afforded its citizens. The map is a useful jumping-off point to discuss the differences between countries or to research the politics of foreign countries in depth. Compare other governments to ours: which are more likely to have a presidential election such as the one we just had in the United States, with multiple candidates and secret ballots?

In addition to the "Map of Freedom," Democracy Web contains a study guide to 12 different facets of freedom: consent of the governed, elections, constitutional limits, majority rule and minority rights, accountability, multiparty systems, economic freedom, rule of law, human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion. Each section includes a comparative look at international freedom, as well as suggested reading and study questions appropriate for high school students. Use this material to enrich existing lessons, as in the examples below.

Economics - Economic Freedom  
When teaching about the U.S. market and business environment, discuss what a "free market" really means. This guide provides a discussion of the evolution of free markets, as well as examples of modern-day markets around the world that are completely, partially, or not free.

The Election - Voting Rights in Other Countries  
Democratic rights during elections vary around the world. Democracy Web looks at elections in three different countries: Poland, Venezuela and Azerbaijan. For older students, the section of study questions provides a good basis for homework or classroom activities.

Finally, the Web site includes a section on the methodology used to determine the level of freedom in each country and includes a classroom activity that allows students to apply the methodology themselves.