NOBELITY Activity-Listening Guide

Listening Guide and Activity for the film Nobelity

Introduction to Video Discussion Guide

 

The beauty of this guide is how easily it adapts to various subject areas. You may choose to use it as a starting point for a research paper in a Language Arts/English class. It may help a biology class understand the intimate relationship between all living creatures and the consequences of ignoring the environment, a physics class may discuss the theory and complexities of nuclear fission and the ethics of how we use this knowledge. Students in Social Studies classes may use this guide as a spring board into discussion of war and peace, may discuss the economics of our ever growing population, or consider how our decisions and actions subtly shift the balance of powers in ways we do not intend. Debate students may use this guide as the foundation of important local, national and international arguments. NHS and sponsors of many clubs may find this guide instrumental in awakening the social conscience of their membership.

Evaluation:

The following websites have multimedia presentation rubrics that can easily be adapted.

 

Nobelity Discussion Questions

Before viewing the film:

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the world today? List your top five below in rank order.

Opening Turk Pipkin (filmmaker)

What question was the inspiration for the Nobelity project?

“Decisions” Steve Weinberg (1979, Physics)

Where does Weinberg believe the burden of proof concerning global warming should lie?

“Challenges” Rick Smalley (1996, Chemistry)

  • Why is the development of alternative energy sources necessary to solve other problems in the world?
  • What does Smalley see as a viable alternative to oil?

“Disparities” Harold Varmus (1989, Physiology or Medicine)

What factors have contributed to disparities in life expectancies and access to health care in the world?

“Change” Jody Williams (1997, Peace)

  • Why are landmines called the “perfect soldier?”
  • What problems result from their use?
  • Why is it difficult to get some countries to support the treaty to ban landmines?

“Knowledge” Ahmed Zewail (1999, Chemistry)

  • How does Zewail believe that the rational thinking that comes with scientific inquiry can help to overcome conflict?

“Persistence” Wangari Maathai (2004, Peace)

  • How have the introduction of cash crops and deforestation worsened the problems faced by the people of Kenya?
  • How will the Green Belt Movement help?

“Peace” Sir Joseph Rotblat (1995, Peace)

  • Why has the nuclear threat worsened since the end of the Cold War?
  • What course of action does Rotblat suggest?

“Reason” Amartya Sen (1998, Economics)

  • How does Sen think that the education of women will help solve some of the problems faced in less developed parts of the world?
  • Sen has an optimistic view of the power of private and public reasoning. How do you think reasoning could be applied to the problems created by poverty?

Video Montage

  • What themes are repeated in the video montage?

“Love” Desmond Tutu (1984, Peace)

  • What attitudes does Tutu see as standing in the way of overcoming our prejudices?

After watching Nobelity, divide the class into groups and allow them to select a segment to investigate in greater detail. The product will be a multimedia presentation to present to the rest of the class. A brief introduction for each segment along with questions and suggested web pages are included. These are a starting point only–they are not designed to limit students to a line of investigation. This could be given as a long-term assignment that students complete independently after the introductory discussion.

Look back at the list you generated before viewing the film. Would your list change as a result of watching Nobelity?

Now that you have viewed the film, what new questions come to mind? Please write down these questions and add them to your list.

“Decisions” Steven Weinberg (1979, Physics)

Steven Weinberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force. Weinberg was an advocate of the (now cancelled) Superconducting Super Collider project. In his Nobelity interview on global warming, Weinberg states that the burden of proof should be on those who think that it is nothing to worry about. His concern is that we are making decisions could bring harm to future generations.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Challenges” Rick Smalley (1996, Chemistry)

Rick Smalley was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of buckminsterfullerene or the “buckyball” for short. This is a new form of pure carbon–the others are diamonds and graphite. The buckyball’s extremely small size, stability and ruggedness hold promise for a wide variety of applications. Smalley helped to create the Rice Center for Nanoscience and Technology. It was his hope that nanotechnology could help to solve the problem of clean and affordable energy. In light of the peak oil production scenario, there is a heightened importance of finding alternative energy sources.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Disparities” Harold Varmus (1989, Physiology or Medicine)

Harold Varmus was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the study of cancer genes. His work led to further research that has helped to develop new ways to diagnose and treat cancer. During the 1990s, Varmus headed the National Institute of Health, and he is currently president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Varmus is concerned about global disparities in access to health care. We have made great medical strides that could go far in helping to close the gap, but there are problems in the delivery of treatment. The emergence of drug-resistant strains makes it more difficult to deal successfully with diseases.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Change” Jody Williams (1997, Peace)

Jody Williams was a co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. More than 1400 NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have come together to work for a global ban on landmines. These landmines remain long after the end of conflict with serious implications for people living in the mined areas. The United Nations estimates that 800 people per month are killed by landmines, and that 110 million are still buried in the ground. Many countries, including the United States, have still not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Knowledge” Ahmed Zewail (1999, Chemistry)

Ahmed Zewail was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the study of the ultrafast movement of individual atoms in a femtosecond, a split second that is a millionth of a billionth of a second. This holds the potential for the control of matter at the molecular level. In his Nobelity interview, Zewail focused on the use of reason and education to help build bridges between cultures, people, and countries. He does not believe that a “conflict of civilizations” is inevitable.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Persistence” Wangari Maathai (2004, Peace)

Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her political activism in supporting sustainable development. Her work with the Green Belt Movement she founded has resulted in the planting of over 30 million trees across Kenya. Maathai has been politically active, and she is currently president of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC). Maathai sees the trees planted in Kenya as symbols of hope that provide opportunities for those involved.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Peace” Sir Joseph Rotblat (1995, Peace)

Sir Joseph Rotblat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his continuing efforts to ban nuclear weapons. He worked on the Manhattan Project, but in 1955 became one of 11 scientists (along with Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell) who signed a letter calling for a total ban on nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are more of a threat now than ever before. Rotblat’s concern is that as long as they exist in our arsenals, they will be used sooner or later.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Reason” Amartya Sen (1998, Economics)

Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics “for his contributions to welfare economics.” He served as master of Trinity College at Cambridge University from 1998 to 2004 and currently teaches at Harvard University. In his Nobelity interview Sen speaks to the increasing disparities in wealth, an issue that he sees as basic to the issue of security. He is optimistic about the power of both private and public reasoning to unlock “freedom’s possibilities.” Sen has also been an advocate of women’s rights and their empowerment through education.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

“Love” Desmond Tutu (1984, Peace)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was an outspoken opponent of apartheid and at its end he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He continues to work for human rights and justice. Tutu is a member of The Elders, a group of elder statesmen that is committed to addressing the most serious problems facing our world. The activities South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been important to the peaceful transition to post-apartheid rule. The terms “peacebuilding,” “memory politics” and “conflict transformation” are used to refer to the implementation of such policies designed to help societies move beyond a violent past that involved human rights violations.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.

Aung San Suu Kyi (1991, Peace)

Aung San Suu Kyi could not be interviewed for Nobelity, nor was she able to accept the Peace Prize in person. In 1988 she returned to Myanmar from London to be with her mother who was ill. Suu Kyi joined the newly formed National League for Democracy and began to speak in its favor. When the military regime reacted to the NLD with violence Suu Kyi and many others were detained. She has been under house arrest off and on since that time. Suu Kyi has used non-violent protest in an attempt to bring human rights and an end to military rule in Myanmar.

Use the following questions and websites as starting points for your investigation.