The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 was a turning point for employee health and safety protections in the U.S. Students investigate the Triangle tragedy and how its impact is still felt today. Students identify eerie parallels between the Triangle Fire and more recent workplace events with safety implications – recent complaints of Wal-Mart employee lock-ins, a deadly fire in a North Carolina poultry processing plant in 1991, and a 1993 fire in a Thailand toy factory given the sad distinction of most deadly industrial fire in the world. How can future tragedies be prevented in the workplace? Students assess the costs, benefits and effectiveness of various government and labor actions. They discover that worker safety is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Between the Civil War and World War II, railroads were one of the nation's most important businesses and an integral part of people’s lives. In this lesson, students assume the role of detectives investigating why the rail companies experienced a crisis in the 1960s and what helped the freight transport portion of the business return to profitability later in the same century. Students analyze a set of clues that help them explore the impact of government policies and changes in consumer demand on rail service. They discover that government policies (e.g., regulations, subsidies, and taxes) can have both positive and negative consequences in the marketplace. An interactive activity helps students understand that rail service competes in two different markets—passenger service and hauling freight. Students also learn that railroads and government policies have had to adjust as the transportation industry changed in the second half of the twentieth century.
The stock-market crash of 1929 is generally seen as the start of The Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the United States. The Depression had devastating effects on the country. But it also served as a wake-up call for economic reform. Until the Great Depression, the U.S. government had made very few modifications to the nation's economic policies. It left the dealings of the economy and businesses to their own devices. But once the Great Depression began the nation needed help, FAST! The stock market was in shambles. Many banks closed. Farmers fell into bankruptcy and were forced off their land. Twenty-five percent of the work force, or 13 million people, were unemployed in 1932. In 1933, the Roosevelt Administration addressed the problem by making the government a key player in the nation’s economy. Using his New Deal as a force for reform, President Roosevelt created policies, agencies and standards to help alleviate serious problems. The reforms provided America with an economy that has been relatively stable for almost 80 years. Students will be prompted to think about the different programs and policies the New Deal created and how they are relevant to the role of government, and fiscal, and monetary policy, both then and now.
The following lessons come from the Council for Economic Education's library of publications. Clicking the publication title or image will take you to the Council for Economic Education Store for more detailed information.
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