Sample Activities & Templates for Exploring Privilege, Power, and Oppression

 

Below you will find resources for:

  • Addressing issues of power, privilege, and oppression through icebreakers and closers, group development, and reflection and awareness activities
  • Adapting activities to small and large classes
  • Developing individual and group exercises

Some further information about use of these resources:

  • Each resource begins with advice on how to best utilize the activity. Several resources fit into more than one category, so you may find them under multiple tabs. If you have any feedback about these resources or would like to have an additional activity included, please use our Contact form to reach us.
  • Many of these exercises are simple to carry out but can have a powerful impact on the classroom experience. As such, instructors should employ these activities with attention to core learning objectives and care to ensure the ethical use of student experiences. Given that students come from various backgrounds and experiences, instructors should examine their own assumptions in advance, give students a lot of choice about what they may write and share with others in the class, and be highly transparent about how student responses will be used.
  • The icons (clock, gears, etc.) that appear next to each resource give information about the expected length of the activity, its complexity, and so on. You can hover over each icon to see what it indicates, and click on any icon to get to the full Key Legend page with complete explanations.

We are grateful to our colleagues in the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the Program on Intergroup Relations, the Comprehensive Studies Program, and many others for generously sharing inclusive teaching materials they have developed over years of practice for use on this website.

The Five Minute Poem     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
This activity has students spend five minutes writing a simple four-line poem about where they are from.
Icebreaker Grab Bag     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
This collection of icebreakers provides a variety of activities to choose from and implement throughout the semester to positively impact overall participation in classroom discussion.
Name Story     medium-length activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
In this activity, students share the name they will go by in class and any history or story the name has for them.
Personal Identity Wheel     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
The Personal Identity wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers.
Web of Connectedness     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
In this activity, the class sits in a circle while the facilitator poses a discussion question or questions. A ball of yarn, twine, or string is passed to each person who speaks.
Barnga Activity     Long activity     high logistical complexity     low scaffolding     moderate experience
This is a simulation game that encourages participants to critically consider normative assumptions and cross-cultural communication.
Core Values     medium-length activity     moderate complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
By examining a list of values and ranking each them from “always valued” to “least valued,” participants will engage in serious self-reflection and evaluation.
The Five Minute Poem      short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
This activity has students spend five minutes writing a simple four-line poem about where they are from.
Group Process Activity     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
By examining a list of values and ranking each them from “always valued” to “least valued,” participants will engage in serious self-reflection and evaluation.
Personal Identity Wheel      short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
The Personal Identity wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers.
Social Identity Wheel      medium-length activity     moderate complexity     low scaffolding     moderate experience
The Social Identity Wheel worksheet is an activity that encourages students to reflect on the various ways they identify socially, how those identities become visible or more keenly felt at different times, and how those identities impact the ways others perceive or treat them.
Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity     Long activity          low scaffolding     moderate experience
The Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity are questions for discussion or reflective writing that prompt students to critically consider their identities and the relationship between identity and context.
Web of Connectedness      short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
In this activity, the class sits in a circle while the facilitator poses a discussion question or questions. A ball of yarn, twine, or string is passed to each person who speaks.
Dialogue Blocker Activity     Long activity          low scaffolding     low experience
This activity is designed to help students recognize common dialogue blockers, why people use them, and to become more aware of how they inhibit important conversations.

Dominant Narratives     medium-length activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
A discussion-based lesson plan on dominant narratives. A dominant narrative is an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies.

Invisible Knapsacks     Long activity           moderate scaffolding     low experience
This activity guides students in understanding privilege as a concept, recognizing the ways their own privileges benefit them, and and how privilege impacts daily life.

Mapping Social Identity Timeline     medium-length activity     moderate complexity     moderate scaffolding     moderate experience
This activity asks students to create a visual map of their socialization in some aspect of identity (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) through the course of their life.
Perfectly Logical Explanation     medium-length activity     Low logistical complexity     moderate scaffolding     moderate experience
This serves as an example of how to engage with dominant narratives (well-known and widely accepted explanations or narratives that are typically in service of the interests and ideologies of dominant social groups). 

Personal Identity Wheel     short activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
The Personal Identity wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers.
School You, Inc.     Long activity     Low logistical complexity     moderate scaffolding     moderate experience
Students imagine creating a school that is designed to maintain oppressive norms.

Social Identity Wheel     medium-length activity     moderate complexity     low scaffolding     moderate experience
The Social Identity Wheel worksheet is an activity that encourages students to identify and reflect on the various ways they identify socially, how those identities become visible or more keenly felt at different times, and how those identities impact the ways others perceive or treat them.
Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity     Long activity          low scaffolding     moderate experience
The Spectrum Activity Questions of Identity are questions for discussion or reflective writing that prompt students to critically consider their identities and the relationship between identity and context.
Growth Mindset for STEM     medium-length activity     Low logistical complexity     low scaffolding     low experience
This activity is a socio-psychological intervention to instill a mindset in students that motivates them to challenge themselves to grow and develop their intellectual abilities through strategic hard work.