This lesson plan aligns with the episode “Hearts of Darkness: Victorian Imperialism and Travel of the African Continent”

For an assignment examining colonialism and the individuals–in this case, Joseph Conrad, Roger Casement, and Henry Morton Stanley–who carried out the tasks of empire, try this structured debate!

  • Assign the students “Hearts of Darkness” + Table of Contents, Chapters 1 (p 21-37) and Chapter 2 (p 38-47) in Burton, The Lake Regions of Central Africa
  • Divide the class into six small groups: one dedicated to the position that “Casement was an imperialist” and one dedicated to the position that “Casement was an anti-imperialist”, and so on, so that the three men each have a team dedicated to arguing one side or the other
  • Give the students 15 minutes to revisit their notes from the podcast and reading, and to do whatever research they need to
  • Make sure each student has a role – a Leader to deliver opening statement, 1-2 Researchers to take notes on and provide counter arguments during the other teams’ opener and rebuttal, and a Closer to deliver the closing statement
  • Bring the groups up two at a time, run the debate
  • The point was to show that every one of these Europeans (who at least, unlike the Berlin conferencers, actually traveled to west Africa) were complicated individuals, whose sometimes casual tourist, often economically self-serving efforts led to immense suffering in the Congo