Duration: 35 minutes
Illustrated art Jody Williams

What's this lesson about

Through the example of Jody Williams, students will learn how they can make big changes when they get involved and passionate about something and how disarmament is one of the paths to peace.

Learning goals

  • Students will know who Jody Williams is and will understand her fight against landmines.
  • Students will understand the concept of disarmament, the dilemmas related to disarmament, and why some types of weapons are banned.
  • Students will understand what a campaign is and why and how to start one.


  • Lesson Slides
  • Student worksheet
Lesson Slides Jody Williams


  • Tap into students’ prior knowledge by warming up the class with a few of the following questions. Record student answers and thoughts on the board or on chart paper:
    • What does disarmament mean?
    • What do you think the most harmful weapons we have in the world are?
    • Raise your hand if you have heard of Jody Williams?
    • What are landmines?

Background Information:

Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. At that time, she became the 10th woman – and third American woman – in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize. Since her protests during the Vietnam War, she has been a life-long advocate of freedom, self-determination, and human and civil rights.

Since 1998, Williams has also served as a Campaign Ambassador for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Beginning in early 1992 with two non-governmental organizations and a staff of one – Jody Williams, she oversaw the Campaign’s growth to over 1,300 organizations in ninety-five countries working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines. In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it achieved its goal of an international treaty banning landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.

Williams continues to be recognized for her contributions to human rights and global security. She is the recipient of fifteen honorary degrees, among other recognitions. In 2004, Williams was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the one hundred most powerful women in the world.

Key Vocabulary:

  • Landmines: An explosive mine laid on or just under the surface of the ground.
  • Disarmament: The act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament refers to a country's military or a specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms.
  • Treaty: A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between international actors.
  • Campaign: An organized course of action to achieve a goal. To work in an organized and active way toward a particular goal, typically a political or social one.

Use the slides to introduce Jody Williams and Landmines to the students.

1. Set the stage:

  • Lead a short discussion on campaigns and their impact that helps students understand:
    • There are several ways to work against landmines. One way is to start a campaign, as Jody Williams did with ICBL: International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
    • If you want to get a lot of people to achieve something, then you can start a campaign. For example. Political parties have campaigns to get people to vote for them. Stores can have advertising campaigns to get people to buy what they sell.

2. Start a campaign:

Have the students produce an idea for a campaign for something that could be changed at their school? If they have trouble producing ideas, it can be helpful to brainstorm. Ideas may include:

  • Longer free time
  • New gym equipment
  • Better school lunch
  • Fewer tests
  • Better internet access
  • Divide students into groups and have each group choose an issue they want to design a campaign around.
  • Have students make a poster, pick a slogan and define the key points of their argument
  • Let the students practice their arguments in front of the class

Have students reflect on the lesson with a short discussion:

  • Ask students what they think they could do next to keep their campaign going (put signs up, collect signatures, share with school leaders, etc.) Remind students that:
    • Campaigns can take time and it can be difficult to reach their goal. But some issues are so important that it is worth spending time on. ICBL has grown to become an organization with active groups in over one hundred countries. The campaign has been going on for 30 years.