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Lesson Plan May 2, 2017

The Country a U.S. Corporation Left Behind



Reading and Discussion

  1. Read all four parts of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "The Land Alcoa Damned" series. Make sure you read the interactive version on the PPG website
    1. Part 1:
    2. Part 2:
    3. Part 3:
    4. Part 4:
  2. As a class, create a timeline that features the history of Suriname including Alcoa's activity in the country.
  3. As the class is creating the timeline and after it is finished, discuss the following issues.
    1. Suriname and the legacy of colonialism
    2. Why Alcoa started and stopped operating in the country
    3. The aluminum industry's impact on the Surinamese
      1. Environment
      2. Economy
      3. People
    4. The importance of the 1958 Brokopondo Agreement and the Afobaka dam
    5. The ties and connections between Alcoa's operation in Suriname and the US


  1. You will now prepare for a debate about Alcoa's departure from Suriname.
  2. First, you need to identify people or groups who will participate in the debate. Based on the reading, choose at least three distinct people or groups who have an opinion on the subject.
  3. Next, you need to create the rules for the debate. This includes format, length, and decorum. Make sure you give each side an opportunity to make an opening statement and at least one response or rebuttal.
  4. Pick which side you want to represent in the debate or your teacher will assign people to positions. Make sure the number of students representing the person or group from the project are about equal in size.
  5. The main question for the debate is what are the terms for Alcoa's exit from Suriname? Each side should determine
    1. What are your demands
    2. What can you compromise on
    3. What arguments will the other sides make and how can you counter them
  6. Conduct the debate with your teacher or another adult as the moderator. Make sure to follow the debate rules that the class developed. During the debate, make sure a different person from each side speaks during each segment so that everyone has a chance to participate.
  7. After the debate, discuss it as a class.
    1. Were there any demands that you think have to be included in the departure agreement?
    2. What demands and arguments made the most sense to you and why?
    3. Who do you think should be consulted and involved in the negotiation process and why?


As a class, try to develop a departure memorandum of understanding that all sides from your debate could agree to sign.

  1. How easy or difficult is this process for the class?
  2. Could you come to an agreement or not?
  3. Based on the readings and your experience in class, why do you think this has been such a difficult process for Alcoa and the Surinamese government?

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Labor Rights

Labor Rights