Downloadable Content

Speaking Truth: Watershed Moments in Global Leadership

Note for Educators:

To use this curriculum, begin by downloading the Base Module below. The Base Module provides an introduction and curriculum overview, and a set of common lessons designed to be used alongside each of the individual modules.

Next, download the individual modules (Module 1: John Lewis, Module 2: Music for Social Justice, etc.). Each individual module includes additional lessons that are specific to the person being featured.

Additional resources are provided to accompany each module, including PowerPoint presentations, videos, and other tools. These must be downloaded separately from the modules themselves. Use them to enhance your teaching, or for your own reference and background learning.

Click on a module below to download the PDF.

Base Module: Speaking Truth – (Download PDF)

Speaking Truth: The Impact of World Religions on Leadership for Social Change – (Download PDF)

Transformational Leadership Model: Mahatma Gandhi – (Download PPT)

Module 1: The Honorable John Lewis, United States House of Representatives – (Download PDF)(Download PPT) – (Watch Video)

Module 2: Music for Social Justice – (Download PDF)

Module 3: Malala Yousafzai – 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
(Download PDF) – (Download PPT)(Download Girls Education PowerPoint)

Module 4: Ruth Messinger – Former President, American Jewish World Service (Download PDF)(Download PPT)

Module 5: Mario Gonzalez – Legal Warrior for Native American Rights (Download PDF)(Download PPT)

Module 6: Thich Nhat Hanh – Teacher, writer and peace activist
(Download PDF)

Module 7: Muhammad Yunus – Champion for economic justice  – (Download PDF) – (Download Microgrant PPT)

Module 8: Faith & Environmental Justice(Download PDF)

-Berta Cáceres

-Chico Mendes

-Wangari Maathai

Additional modules will be posted here as they become available.

Learn more about Speaking Truth: Watershed Moments in Global Leadership


Base Module: Speaking Truth

Speaking Truth: Watershed Moments in Global Leadership, is a curriculum that provides students and teachers with the opportunity to explore what motivates a person to act on his/her beliefs, when that action is fraught with challenges. Each Speaking Truth module explores the influences, motivations, choices and moral foundations of global change agents as inspirations for activism. Over 1300 proposals were submitted to the National Council for the Social Studies for the 2014 annual conference. Speaking Truth was selected as a workshop option for participants.

With more than 4,500 attendees and exhibitors from across the U.S. around the world, the Fund for the Future of our Children (FFC) had the opportunity to share this curriculum with an in-ternational audience as a model for introducing activism to young people, extending the legacy of leadership established by the likes of Congressman John Lewis, Malala Yousafzai, Berta Cáceres, Wangari Maathai, Chico Mendes, Mahatma Gandhi, Ruth Messinger, Mario Gonzalez, Thich Nhat Hanh, Muhammad Yunus and others.

(Download Base Module PDF)

Speaking Truth: The Impact of World Religions on Leadership for Social Change

A Curriculum for Middle and High School Teachers that seeks to teach world religions in a dynamic way – by linking it to current global change. It does this by focusing on leaders who have been influenced by various world faiths.The FFC curriculum modules follow a standard format – focusing on three factors common to such 
visionary leaders for change in our world.

The role models that initially inspired each of these visionary leaders to see the need for special social changes; The “watershed moments” in the lives of these visionary leaders that eventually triggered their efforts to seek social change; The “faith perspective” of these visionary leaders that gave them the strength to persist seeking transformative social change against all odds.

(Download Speaking Truth: The Impact of World Religions on Leadership for Social Change PPT)

Transformational Leadership Model: Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was a transformational leader who inspired millions. Gandhi was born into the merchant caste in India in 1869. He was a very shy child and found it difficult to speak to his teachers and classmates. Following Indian tradition, Gandhi had an arranged marriage when he was 13 years old. At age 18, Gandhi was labeled an outcast by local elders when he left to study law in England.When he was 24, Gandhi began his legal practice in South Africa. Gandhi witnessed prejudice against Indians and Africans while working in South Africa. In 1900, while fighting with the British int he Boer War, Gandhi began to see the futility of using violence to affect social change.

In the 1920s, Gandhi began fighting colonial rule by creating a movement of non-violent non-cooperation with the British. Gandhi included Indians of all faiths in his non-violent protests. “I have not been able to see any difference between the Sermon on the Mount and Bhagavad Gita… It’s the ‘Law of Love’ – the law of abandon as I would call it – in a scientific manner.”

(Download Mahatma Ghandi’s PPT)


Module 1: The Honorable John Lewis, United States House of Representatives

Module 1 focuses on the example of Congressman John Lewis, who began fighting for equality as a young man during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and continues the struggle today.

This module is accompanied by a 20-minute documentary film that follows four young people as they participate in a pilgrimage to historic civil rights sites in Alabama with Congressman Lewis. We see the relationships that these students build across different faiths and backgrounds, and how their leadership skills for peace are broadened and deepened through the experience.

The Speaking Truth film was made by Melissa Mergner, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and one of FFC’s first Youth Leadership Grant awardees, who was awarded a fellowship for the project.

(Download John Lewis PDF) – (Download John Lewis PPT) – 


Module 2: Music for Social Justice

Music has often been able to achieve social change. In this module, we will explore four activists whose music transformed the society around them. Through music, Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim created human engagement between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East.

Hamada Ben Amor inspired the overthrow of a major dictator in his country, Tunisia, with powerful lyrics about corruption. Joan Baez and Pete Seeger protested what they viewed as unjust government policies in the United States with their songs. Each was in-spired in part, and in their own way, by their faith backgrounds: Islam, Judaism, Quakerism, and spiritualism.

This module will consider how students can use artistic talents to create change in their communities. Students will have the opportunity to express themselves through poetry and music. They will also be able to explore complex issues through the humanizing and relatable lens of music.

(Download Music for Social Justice PDF)

Module 3: Malala Yousafzai, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, and the Girls Education

Malala Yousafzai was born in the Swat Valley of Pakistan and lived in the city of Mingora until she was 15 years old, when her life dramatically changed. Malala wrote of the beauty of the valley and of her people: “…the high snow-topped mountains, green waving felds and fresh blue rivers – and my heart smiles when it looks at the people of Swat.”

The Swat Valley is known for its unique place in Pakistan’s history – as it was once separate from the country – and because it was a destination for tourists. In 1997, the Taliban came to Swat with their interpretation of Shariat Ya Shahadat, Sharia law or Martyrdom. With them, they brought not just sweeping changes for the lives of the Malala and her community, but also years of violence.

(Download Malala Yousafzai PDF) – (Download PPT) – (Download Girls Education PowerPoint)


Module 4: Ruth W. Messinger, Former President, American Jewish World Service

Ruth W. Messinger, Former President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) from 1998 to July of 2016, is currently the organization’s inaugural Global Ambassador. AJWS is an international development organization providing support to more than 200 grassroots social changes in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

“Our mission statement says that we have a dual mission. The first part is the eradication of poverty, disease, and hunger, and the second is to educate the Jewish community about global social responsibility. Too often Jews are, or seem to be, focused on the Jewish community, and not on others in need…There were many Jewish organizations doing humanitarian or poverty work, but that was mostly within Jewish communities. There weren’t that many that had expanded the circle of obligation to the rest of the world.”

(Download Ruth W. Messinge PDF)(Download PPT)


Module 5: Mario Gonzalez, Legal Warrior for Native American Rights

Mario Gonzalez has served as counsel to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and has worked tirelessly on Indian legal issues for decades. He has been instrumental in advocating for the Oglala Sioux (Lakota)people and their claim to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In 1995, Mario Gonzalez was named the first recipient of the Distinguished Aboriginal Lawyer Achievement Award, given by the Native Law Centre of Canada, University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon. This is an international award given to leading attorneys around the world that support aboriginal rights. A centerpiece of his life has been his fight to protect and reclaim the Black Hills – the sacred heart of the life of the Sioux (Lakota) nation. That story is preserved in a book entitled The Politics of Hallowed Ground.

(Download Mario Gonzalez PDF)(Download PPT)

Resource: In 2016, some Native American teens began standing up for their water rights. Watch a video about the teens.

Module 6: Thich Nhat Hanh – Teacher, writer and peace activist

The teacher, writer and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh was born in 1926 in Thura Thien, Central Vietnam. Thich Nhat Hanh, entered the Zen monastery of Tu Hieu in Vietnam at the age of sixteen. He became a Buddhist monk in 1949 while attending the Baó Quoc Buddhist Institute.

Soon after his ordination he decided to leave his monastery in order to support those touched by the Background Vietnam Conflict. “The essence of nonviolence is love. Out of love and the willingness to act selflessly, strategies, tactics, and techniques for a nonviolent struggle arise naturally… Nonviolent action, born of the awareness of suffering and nurtured by love, is the most effective way to confront adversity.”

(Download Thich Nhat Hanh PDF)



Module 7: Muhammad Yunus – Champion for economic justice

Dr. Muhammad Yunus was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 1940. Yunus is an advocate for social entrepreneurship, a business approach to find solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems. Throughout his life, he has been a part of programs seeking to diminish poverty in Bangladesh, especially through microlending.

Yunus established the Grameen Bank, which focuses on giving small, daily loans to rural business women. The goal of microlending is to provide low-interest loans that relieve the poor from the cycle of debt. Grameen started with various branches in Bangladesh. For each of Grameen’s branches, the bank manager would inform the community about Grameen and the idea of microlending through “projection meetings.” The project was so successful that, in 1985, Yunus spread the concept internationally, after successfully pitching his idea to Hillary and Bill Clinton.

(Download Muhammad Yunus PDF) – (Download Microgrant PPT)

Module 8: Faith & Environmental Justice

This module explores how organizations and individuals can contribute to environmental justice. The first part will explain the lives of three activists who faced danger to stand up for their communities and local environments. The second part explores organizations and government-led projects that aim to level the environmental playing field between developed and developing countries.

The third part will Background explore the nature of the planet. Finally, the module will conclude with a discussion of the explored themes and will provide suggestions for a final class project. The effort to make nature’s beauty and resources equally available to all is embodied in the concept of environmental justice.

(Download Faith & Environmental Justice PDF)