How is does demographic change shape the way people think and act? Scholars Jennifer Richeson and Ryan Enos research the way people respond to diversity. One thing they have both found is that increasing diversity shapes not just attitudes towards newcomers, but toward politics as well. In this video, Ezra Klein, formally of, speaks with Richeson and Enos about their findings and considers the implications for how we treat each other as individuals and members of groups as well as in our political choices.

Note to the Teacher

This video includes a frank discussion of the relationship between bias, politics, and prejudice, including quotations from politicians that may upset students because of the content, others might be troubled because it might feel, to them, that a political leader that they, or their family support, is being shown in a bad light. The purpose of using this film is not to upset either group of students, but instead, to consider Richeson and Enos’ timely research and what it says about us as people, what it reveals about human behavior, and what insights the scholarship offers into our past and present responses to diversity.

It is important to make you goals using this short film transparent. You might also consider revisiting or clarifying ground rules for discussing controversial subjects (a key component of civic education) so that students are able to share their perspectives and engage with the perspectives of others in a respectful manner.

Teaching Ideas

As a guiding question for this lesson, we might ask: How does increasing diversity shape the way people treat each other?

In addition, you might use this film to explore the following questions from Re-Imagining Migration’s Learning Arc:

What are the public stories of migration?

  • What messages about migration are people hearing through media and thought leaders?
  • How can we assess whether available public stories about migration are reliable and representative?
  • How do stories of migration influence how people think and (re)act?

Consider providing a structure to allow students to record their thoughts and feelings about what they took in through the video. One particularly helpful Project Zero thinking routine for context like this, is the Connect-Extend-Challenge protocol.

After sharing perspectives and responses to the video, it is helpful to reflect on the significance and implications of the research. We often use the three whys Project Zero thinking routine to structure this kind of reflection.

For further reflection, consider the ways that students might be able to take action to reduce the tensions that sometimes arise in times of demographic change. For example, scholar Gordon Allport suggested ways that bringing people together from different groups could reduce prejudice. What might individuals and groups learn from his work? How could it be applied today?

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