• they are topical
  • they can be directly related to students' lives
  • it is an essential part of the curriculum if universities are to fulfill their role in society
  • it provides a chance for staff and students to reflect, to develop, to practice, to comprehend
  • it can assist students to develop their ethical and moral reasoning.

Characteristics of controversial issues

  • A controversial issue is one in which
    • there are competing values and interests
    • people disagree strongly about statements, assertions or actions
    • there is political sensitivity
    • emotions become strongly aroused
    • protest is aroused.
  • Controversial issues can be about
    • what has happened
    • the causes of the present situation
    • the desirable ends to work towards
    • the appropriate course of action to be taken
    • the likely effect of action
  • Controversy
    • is usually complex
    • requires knowledge, awareness of self and a sense of identity
    • requires balance, disclosure of commitment and 'neutrality' i.e. taking a stance without coercion or indoctrination of others.

Strategies for teaching controversial issues

The teacher's task in addressing controversial issues includes:

However, it is useful to note that what may result

  • for students is not clearer ideas but greater confusion, and hopefully a commitment to questioning and further independent exploration of the ISSe
  • for you the teacher, a sense of achievement.