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Research, Role Playing, and Social Justice

Designed for the Active Learning Leaders Teaching Conference on October 29, 2016. Active learning is essential for students to develop a deeper understanding and engage in topics in a more meaningful way particularly with social justice issues. Attendees

Step 1: Pick a role

Assume the role of an individual involved in the Net Neutrality debate.

Accurately, consistently (and respectfully) represent your actor during class interactions (regardless of whether you personally agree with her/his position). Anything you do to make your portrayal authentic (e.g. appropriate dress, demeanor, accent, etc), and to make the game more realistic (e.g., by lobbying others, organizing demonstrations, advertising, press releases, using props, etc.) will enhance your grade. 


Step 2: Research your role and position

Lev-Ram, Michal. "You Can Now Thank (Or Blame) Netflix For Net Neutrality." Fortune.Com (2016): 1. Business Source Premier. Web. 14 July 2016. 

June 14, 2016, will go down in history as either a victorious or disastrous day for the free and open Internet.

In a nutshell, it is the day a Washington, D.C., appeals court upheld the so-called "net neutrality" rules, passed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. The mandate, which imposes utility-like regulations on broadband services, was challenged by Internet providers that claimed the rules exceed the agency's power (not to mention were an unnecessary burden and could, in fact, lead to increased costs for consumers). The court disagreed, announcing Tuesday morning that it would uphold the new net neutrality laws.

It's a big win for companies like Netflix nflx --or, well, especially for Netflix. The streaming media service has had tremendous impact on Hollywood in recent years, and while its influence on the rules that govern the Internet is less visible, it is even more consequential.

More than one-third of today's Internet bandwidth is already consumed by Netflix. As a result the company has a lot at stake when it comes to an unfettered Internet--one that can't be channeled into separate slow and fast lanes. Netflix has poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts, both to squelch Comcast's cmcsa bid for Time Warner Cable (which was successful) and to spearhead the charge for net neutrality (also successful). Both of these efforts, and its more recent involvement as a "public advocate" in Charter Communications' merger with Time Warner Cable, have been led by Christopher Libertelli, its VP of global public policy and a former FCC adviser.

In a recent interview with Fortune (which took place last month, before the June 14 decision), Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talked about his company's role in the net neutrality debate, calling the original FCC decision a success. "That's a big win for the consumers, and is what we think how the Internet should be laid out," he said. "And I think people on the ISP [Internet service provider] side are grudgingly coming around to that view."

The thing is, most ISPs aren't coming around. In a statement issued Tuesday, AT&T's general counsel had this to say about the appeals court's decision: "We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal."

Maybe June 14 won't be that historic after all.


Step 3: Make Allies

Spend the next 10 minutes talking with as many individuals as you can. Your objective is to determine who shares similar goals with you, determine the information needed to sway the Supreme Court Justices, and form a team of allies to present together.

Step 4: Form a strategy

Work with the executives from your company to partner with companies with similar goals. Take 10 minutes to develop a 2 minute presentation to sway Supreme Court Justices to your position.

Step 5: Present your Position

Have a member or two of your group take 2 minutes or less to present your argument for or against Net Neutrality to the Supreme Court Justices. You want to win and have them rule in favor of your argument.