The U.S. system of government is founded on the idea of majority rule balanced by a guarantee of individual rights—especially the right to dissent from and criticize the government. Civil liberties are threatened when an administration or Congress believes in protecting the rights and privileges of the government instead of those of the people.
The framers of the Constitution understood the importance of this issue and enacted the Bill of Rights to protect the people against excesses by government. Civil liberties belong to everyone citizens, visitors, students—all persons.
Free speech issues were raised when Sands Bethworks donated land to the city with restrictions on free speech, members of the Steelworkers Union, members of the Lehigh University faculty, and community defenders of civil liberties organized a rally there in October 2012.
If Civil Liberties & the Bill of Rights are of interest to you, we invite you to contact us at email@example.com.
This section deals with immigration and the Lehigh Valley, national immigration policies, and people displaced by war and disasters.
In 2010, the Collective Memory Project of the Lehigh Valley prepared an exhibition of including photographs and oral history of recent immigrants and descendants of earlier waves of immigration. More information…
The recently-enacted statute in Arizona and the proposed DREAM act reflect two very different views of immigration and undocumented/ ‘illegal’ immigrants.
Community Empowerment brings together a wide range of material that deals with ways to empower members of a community. Through group projects and activities, a community is empowered to make change.
Here we focus on rethinking the ways we live and the ways society and its systems are structured. It includes approaches, perspectives, and philosophies that can empower our pursuit of sustainability, getting more specific about the frameworks for thinking and action given in the Finding Solutions part of the Think Globally section, namely, the models of change available to help us understand the various aspects of the problem we are facing and to help us move towards sustainability.
The change paradigms are a varied lot. Some focus on specific objectives, some are holistic. Some are weighted toward “taking action” strategies, some toward conceptualization, some are rather balanced in dealing with both theory and practice. They all can find expression in local, regional, national and/or world-wide actions. They all can inspire us and help us find the way.
Please contact us about models for change that you would like to see added to this listing.
In today’s world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future.
Fair Trade helps stop this cycle of exploitation and encompasses a range of goods from the global south, from agricultural products such as coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas to handcrafts such as clothing, household items, and decorative arts.
- Big Changes in Fair Trade!
- Chocolate: The Bitter Truth
- Support Authentic Fair Trade
- Fair Trade links & resources
- Where can I purchase Fair Trade products?
… focusing on the importance of going local to reap the advantages of local economic transactions. (For example, about 45¢ of every dollar spent at a locally-owned business circulates within the community, compared to only about 15¢ if spent elsewhere.) This Going Local category includes the thoughts of local business owners, community members, and students in the articles.
In Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, Michael H. Shuman asserts (p. 50), “The key [to sustainable community] is to start with self-reliance and frame local business, labor, and environmental laws and policies around it.
Globalization, on the other hand, lacks all the positive qualities of going local!
(Is capitalism itself the problem? See Michael Carriere’s interview of Alex Knight.)
Community Land Trusts
Community land trusts are a way for a land owner or community group to preserve open space, prevent undesirable land uses, and/or provide affordable housing. Ownership of the land is often deeded to a nonprofit organization.
Advocacy & Activism
For people in a democratic or holistic society to make informed decisions, we cannot solely rely on business or government to provide information. Individuals and organizations that advocate and press for change are key to a healthy democracy, one of the reasons the Bill of Rights provides such strong protections for freedom of expression and freedom from repression.
Arts & Culture
A look at how arts and cultural activities support—and may be essential for—a healthy democracy.
The Lehigh Valley has a wealth of historic buildings, structures, sites, and districts that add to the beauty and attractiveness of the region, increase understanding and appreciation of our heritage, and improve the quality of life. (Many significant historical features are also tourist attractions that add value to the local economy.)
Government & Rights
The Declaration of Independence tells us that ‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ For government to function as a democracy requires informed consent—informed citizens who participate in the decision-making processes of government, including elections.
For a society to function democratically requires more than majority rule, it requires that individual rights be protected—from the government or other members of society—and even extends to limits on the ‘tyranny of the majority’. The founders’ belief in individual rights led to the Bill of Rights. The movement towards fair human rights for all is culminated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Violence Against Women
Despite greater willingness of authorities to protect them, violence against women is widespread. Victims often refuse to testify, sometimes from shame and sometimes from fear. Trafficking remains a major problem, with young women lured with promises of good jobs and then kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery—and according to the CIA, many of them are in small towns throughout the U.S.
Unfortunately, many institutions—from businesses to universities—try to minimize incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, & rape. While it is understandable that they would be concerned about their reputation, blaming the victims or trivializing what happened is inexcusable.
The idea of minority rights includes not only normal individual rights for members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, or sexual minorities, it also includes rights accorded to these groups as a whole.
Read more about students’ rights and their importance for a free society.
Rights of Nature | Rights of Mother Earth
The ‘rights of nature’ concept recognizes that the natural systems have a right to exist, and that these rights may be superior to the commerce and property rights of humans; unfortunately this concept is only now becoming more widely appreciated.
In 2010, a general, global statement of the rights of nature, the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, was issued at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. This lead to places, for example Bolivia, to recognize ‘Mother Earth’ as having rights that are parallel to human rights.
Militarism in Schools
Militarism is a combination of relying too much on military force for security and glorifying military service and values. In schools, it often takes the form of fostering the belief that the primary role of the military is to defend freedom and democracy, that serving one’s country means joining the military, and that we should all support the military. These three ideas are at best highly controversial.
In addition, when schools practice military values and methods such as authoritarian decision-making, unquestioning obedience, and regimentation, and when they allow standardized tests to dominate the educational process—instead of encouraging creativity, engagement, and learning—they are practicing militarism.
‘The Commons’ refers to resources that should be available to and accessible by all members of the community.
Table of Contents Executive Summary Introduction Why a Sustainability Impact Assessment? What does Sustainability Mean? Types of Impacts Considered The Easton – Phillipsburg Area Impacts Building Design & Systems Transportation Food Educational Programming & Operations Construction Recommendations & Opportunities Building … more
Resources to complete a Sustainability Impact Assessment [In development – if you have questions now send an email to Peter Crownfield, coordinator for the sustainability impact assessment project.] DRAFT This list is provided as a starting point for others doing a … more
This project examines the inter-related facets of climate, community, health, environment, and local economy. While the project focused on the proposed Da Vinci Science City project in Easton, the descriptions below provide an introduction to the various types of impacts … more
First of all, the Alliance thanks the 5 student interns whose hard work made this project possible: Olivia Barz (Lehigh ’19) Ryan Dougherty (Lafayette ’19) Harris Eisenhardt (SUNY–ESF ’19) Ashley Kushner (Lafayette ’19) Brandy Moser (Boston University ‘21) The project … more
by Tom Moroz The commons were traditionally defined as the elements of the environment—forests, atmosphere, rivers, fisheries, or grazing land—that are shared, used, and enjoyed by all. In our digital age, ‘the commons’ is also used to describe the information available … more
by Diane W. Husic The first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1990)1 led to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 195 countries that signed this 1992 treaty, including the U.S., are obligated to … more
by Alex Fischer Conducting one’s life to end exploitation and injustice is moral and dignified. The twin threats of nuclear war and climate change forecast a bleak future. While we cannot know whether or not people and their societies can … more
by Maison Allen What if Europeans never settled in North America? Would the land in this country have remained unharmed? Would the environment be in better condition than it is today? Unlike colonists, the Native people did not treat the … more
Reliable sources for information on authentic Fair Trade NEW The History of Fair Trade Buying and Selling– Good recap of the history & principles of Fair Trade, plus several valuable links for more information. [January 2018] Reports & News Stories: … more