Big Idea: Justice - Challenge Based Learning

Big Idea: Justice

March 16, 2018 | By

Big Ideas 2018

The Big Idea of justice demonstrates the importance of creating a shared vocabulary before developing challenges and solutions. Justice and the related concepts of impartiality and fairness are complex ideas that we may assume everyone understands, but in reality, we have different interpretations. The concept of justice has a long history and differs across cultures providing the opportunity for a thorough investigation and profound learning experience.

Developing a personal and communal understanding of justice and being able to identify and fight against injustice is critical for a peaceful society. Justice is a prototypical Big Idea because it is inspirational, desirable, and directional. It provides hope, gives us something to aim for and parameters for making decisions. The challenge to promote justice should be a daily and ongoing effort to understand and make short-term gains while aspiring to a just society for all.


Big Idea: Justice
Essential Question: How do we (I) promote a just, impartial and fair society?
Challenge: Fight Injustice! or Advocate for Justice!

Sample Guiding Questions

These are only example questions we encourage you to ask as many personal and contextual questions as possible.

  1. What is Justice?
  2. Why is justice important?
  3. What are the historical roots of justice?
  4. What is social justice?
  5. Is justice always good?
  6. What is the relationship between justice and citizenship?
  7. How does justice differ between countries and cultures?
  8. Who decides what is just and unjust?
  9. What does it mean to be impartial and fair?
  10. What are examples of justice and injustice?
  11. How do we decide what is right and wrong?
  12. What is the role of laws?
  13. How does the justice system impact people differently?
  14. What is the connection between ethics and justice?
  15. What is criminal justice?
  16. Etc.

*Once you brainstorm all of the questions organize and prioritize them.


Guiding Activities and Resources
These are only a set of example activities and resources and the learners will need to evaluate the quality of the content. They are not verified or necessarily supported, just examples. The ones that you choose should be in direct relationship to your specific guiding questions and context. Activities and resources for adults, adolescents, and younger children will be different. The goal is to develop solutions that mean something in your community and are sustainable.

Example Activities

  1. Develop share definitions for the key terms – justice, fairness, impartiality, ethics, citizenship
  2. Explore the free Harvard course on Justice through EDX
  3. Explore the Ted Talks in the Justice playlist and identify common themes.
  4. Investigate the justice system (formal and informal) in your community. Invite representatives to meet and discuss their roles.
  5. Explore the concepts of justice and fairness through the lens of the climate, resources, economics, health and other current events.
  6. Explore how concepts of justice change over time and how they impact different people by creating a justice timeline. Consider what factors cause changes in the definition.
  7. Identify and follow local groups involved with justice (formal and informal) on social media and compare the perspectives.
  8. Etc.

Example Resources

  1. A collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice
  2. Social Justice Standards
  3. Stories of Freedom & Justice: Learning Resources
  4. Women and Justice
  5. The Pursuit of Justice – Ted Talk Playlist
  6. Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice
  7. Teaching about justice, rights, and responsibilities – Canada
  8. Etc.


Using the research findings from your Investigations develop a synthesis that demonstrates a clear understanding of the challenge. For help with creating a synthesis explore this resource.


Solution Prototypes – Using your research synthesis create multiple ideas for solutions and review each one to make sure your research supports it. Share the prototypes with various stakeholders and get feedback.

Solution – with the feedback from the stakeholders develop one solution that has the most potential for success.

Implement – Develop a plan to implement the solution with the stakeholders and collect data about the impact.

Evaluate – Using quantitative and qualitative measures determine if the solution is valid and what can be improved.


Throughout the experience take time to document the events and reflect on what is happening to build on prior knowledge and identify future questions.

Share what you learned with your local community and the world. Use #CBLWorld on social media.


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