Submitted by Ellen Livingston on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 3:22 pm

Welcome to the beginning of an exciting new venture in educational cyberspace. In the coming weeks and months, we will be using this space to stimulate debate and discussion about some of the most pressing issues facing us as citizens of the United States and the world. We hope to create a dynamic online community in which educators, students and all concerned citizens can actively participate in the kind of discussion so vital to our survival as a democratic society.

To that end, we will be posting regular blogs about a wide variety of topics and issues of civic importance, using Spike Lee’s masterful documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and the accompanying curricular materials, Teaching the Levees:A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement, as our starting points. The goal is not simply to have our say, but to provoke a series of democratic dialogues in which teachers and students from all over the country can engage in meaningful conversation about the many issues raised by Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath. Your participation is crucial to the success of this undertaking and we actively encourage you to take the time to make your voice heard.

We also encourage you to post any comments you may have about the film, the curriculum, New Orleans, or any of the many issues raised by Katrina – issues of race, class, government responsibility, environment, the role of the media, and so on – on our discussion board. There is also a separate space for sharing lesson plans and curricular materials on this website. And if you are interested in submitting a guest blog, or have other comments or suggestions you are not comfortable making publicly, please feel free to contact us at levees@tc.columbia.edu.

If you are an educator and have not yet ordered your free copy of the Teaching the Levees package, please sign up to do so on this website as soon as possible, as there are only a limited number of copies still available.

We are opening the blog with two posts – one about a fascinating project in which an artist recreated the dilapidated shell of a home destroyed by Katrina against the New York City skyline, and another about the link between the failed levees in New Orleans and the recent Minneapolis bridge collapse. We hope you will take the time to post responses to these blogs and continue to participate in the discussions they will promote.

Dialogue and debate are the lifeblood of democracy. We are genuinely excited about the prospect of stimulating that debate in the days to come on this website. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Story of the Levees



Teaching the Levees is a collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University, The Rockefeller Foundation, HBO Documentary Films, Teachers College Press, and the EdLab