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Unity Tools Framework

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Pedagogical Framework for The UNITY Lab

The UNITY Lab creates transformational experiences where people learn about the consequences of prejudice and violence, practice tools that foster harmony, and make choices that empower themselves and others to build unity. Get the concrete details on this pedagogical framework below.

What are Tools for Change?

IMAGE: ToolsEach of the Lab’s three floors engages participants in learning experiences and activities based on Tools for Change— unity building strategies with the power to transform individuals and societies. Each floor introduces the Tools for Change through a series of immersive activities, and each floor's Tools are connected by a common action.

The Tools for Change have been developed around measurable learning objectives. These goals are based on Bloom's taxonomies of learning domains, the authoritative model for classifying learning skills. Of the Lab's 24 Tools for Change, the following eight focus specifically on cognitive and affective learning skills that relate to participants’ knowledge, attitudes, behavior and values:

  • Forgive— participants will learn how the tools of forgiveness toward themselves and others can dismantle the barriers to building unity
  • Embrace Culture— participants will recognize that valuing their cultures and embracing diversity enables them to build unity
  • Protest— participants will encounter the effectiveness of nonviolent protest, evaluate its effectiveness, and determine how they can use it to build unity
  • Teach— participants will discover that all people have skills they can teach to empower others to build unity
  • Volunteer— participants will understand the essential role that volunteerism serves in building unity
  • Advocate— participants will attain skills to make their opinions matter through persuasive speech and political action
  • Organize— participants will realize how organizing with others who share their concerns is a powerful tool to build unity
  • Express— participants will recognize and practice the tremendous power of creative tools for nonviolent change. See the Tool in action— scroll down for screenshots and a video.

The chart below details how The Tools are organized throughout the Lab's three floors, and how they relate to the tenets of UNITY.

IMAGE: Tools for Change  diagram

What are Youth Developmental Assets?

Each Tool for Change is designed to strengthen Youth Developmental Assets— individual qualities and social supports identified as critical to young people’s academic, psychological, and social success. Youth Developmental Assets are standardized according to a six year, nationwide study by the research firm Search Institute, and applied today by educators, youth organizations and policymakers across the country.

The chart below details Youth Developmental Assets strengthened throughout The Lab.

IMAGE: Framework Tenets

Our First Completed Tool: Express Yourself

Through Express Yourself, The Lab's first completed Tool, participants learn to articulate their perspectives through creative expression. It's the collaborative product of teachers, researchers, and professionals in the field of artistic design and media and educational technology. Express Yourself combines political poster making, film editing, and spoken word poetry recording, inspired by youth-engaging video profiles of people whose creative work has caused real social change. The activities are hands-on, interactive, and build participants' digital media literacy. Express Yourself is being used by students and educators in the George Washington Carver School's Digital Arts Lab in Sacramento, Calif.


Chart C1 models the cognitive outcomes, objectives, and activities of Express Yourself, and Chart C2 depicts affective outcomes. Youth Developmental Assets targeted in this learning experience are personal power and a sense of purpose.

Free Online Curriculum, ULAB for Teens and The Mobile UNITY Lab

To provide further resources to educators and the community, our curriculum experts are developing free, standards-based curricula in English, Social Studies and Career Technology, aligned with the Tools for Change. These lessons are enhanced by the video vignettes and online versions of The UNITY Lab's activities. Our first completed lessons, organized around the Express Yourself Tool, are available now online.

At the same time, teachers working with media consultants have developed our online Teen Portal, with educational games, video profiles of extraORDINARY youth, and social networking components. To extend The Lab's transformative experiences to students in rural and underserved urban communities, our Mobile UNITY Lab eBus will be equipped with the Express Yourself activities and a digital lab for student and community use.