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Real-world issues about politics

Real-world issues about politics

These real-world issues about politics will help you to explore knowledge questions, analyse the latest events and issues related to this optional theme, and apply TOK terms, ideas, and concepts to authentic situations.

You can also use these issues as discussion points within lessons, examples to support your essay arguments, and case studies to show how TOK manifests in world around us in your exhibition commentary.

Real-world issues on the nature and scope of politics

  • These issues on politics relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A FiveThirtyEight article, which explores the relationship between money and politics, specifically, whether campaign donations affect political decision-making.

This is a Vox interview with Edward Watts, author of ‘Mortal Republic’, which analyses the decline and collapse of Ancient Rome. Unlike some historians, Watts infers lessons from this, which he applies to modern-day America.

A Forbes article questions whether a country’s GDP is the most helpful indicator of its health and prosperity, arguing that ‘well-being’ is a better way of judging how well a country is progressing.

A Conversation article, looking at the reasons why political polls are often inaccurate – and why this problem is increasing in the Internet age.

Real-world issues on the relationship between politics and values

  • These issues on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to politics and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Guardian podcast that asks people around the world “Who do you trust on Coronavirus?”

This BBC article ask a very simple question, that has a complex answer: why are same-sex relationships supported within some countries, and opposed in others?

An Economist video (posted on Twitter), exploring the link between political affiliations, and responses to the social-distancing rules.

An Aeon video, applying ‘moral foundation theory’ to political perspectives in order to understand the relationship between politics and ethics.

Real-world issues on the communication of ideas in politics

  • These issues on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Vox article, considering the way in which the word ‘brunch’ has become a politicized term.

A CNN report, asserting that a Fox News report about the migrant crisis in the USA made false claims by presenting events out of context.

An Atlantic article, exploring how language is used by media outlets, and how this feeds into the vocabulary of those who follow them.

A Conversation article, looking at how dubbing in films can be used to censor ideas, or insert messages to manipulate audiences.

A Wired article by a person who predicted the US elections by playing an American trucker simulator.

A New Humanist article looks at ways to counter ‘fake news’.

Real-world issues on politics shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These issues on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Salon article, looking at the fact that the US has reached a ‘dangerous level of polarization’ in politics.

An Aeon essay that considers the viability of pursuing and studying politics in a purely rational way.

A CNN article, asserting that Xi Jinping is rewriting history in order to consolidate his own position as leader of China.

A Conversation article, looking at how our judgement of when life begins is as much a matter of politics as it is about science.

A Vox article, looking at how the organizers of the CPAC conference were booed by many of the attendees when they asked them to wear masks.

A FiveThirtyEight article, exploring why (according to them) different political perspectives cause us to view the same event very differently.

Real-world issues on the creation of new ideas in politics

  • These issues on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

Nick Bryant at the BBC considers how our judgement of George HW Bush’s presidency – particularly in terms of foreign policy – has undergone a reassessment by historians and political writers.

Real-world issues on becoming a discerning knower about politics

  • These issues on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

This long FiveThirtyEight article sets out to explore the relationship between money and politics, specifically, whether campaign donations affect political decision-making.

This highly partisan Guardian article looks at the process whereby people arrived at their position on Brexit.

Link these issues to the exhibition

Our TOK exhibition prompt decoder helps you to understand each of the 35 IA prompts, link them to the core and optional themes, and the 12 key TOK concepts, and explore them via quotes, questions, TED talks, and media sources. Access the decoder here.

Explore related events and issues

Investigating Issues offers you a completely new way to plan and teach TOK. The resource gathers together over 120 major global issues, provides a collection of media sources to explore each one, and suggests ways to link them to the different elements of the TOK course and to the 12 key concepts.

Unpack these issues & link them to TOK

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (updated every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking ideas, guidance on the key concepts, and other tips. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

Subscribe to the TOK newsletter

Our TOK newsletter helps you explore the most important events and issues going on today, and fully grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining theoryofknowledge.net.