Legal Personhood: Activity 1 (Civics and Citizenship, Year 7)

A Person by Any Other Name? Legal Personhood and Animals 

The learning sequence for this activity addresses the question of where other species and environments (such as animals and rivers) ‘fit’ within Australia’s legal system. It begins by examining terms and concepts related to this topic as a result of watching a video exploring the application of legal personhood to non-human animals. Students go on to discuss the ideas in the video before attempting to apply them to their own lives.  

Time Allocation 

1 lesson.   

Key Inquiry Questions 

  • How are legal terms used to describe an individual’s rights to justice in Australia’s system of law? 
  • What principles of justice help to protect human individuals? 
  • In what ways does the law protect humans over other species, such as chimpanzees? 

Learning Activities 

1. PRE-TEST 

ACTIVITY 1: Vocabulary check 

Explain the class will be exploring the idea of who and what are considered ‘persons’ under Australian Law.  

Before watching the Voiceless video ‘Animals: Property or Persons?’ introduce students to the following terms:  

  1. Autonomous 
  2. Captivity 
  3. Chimpanzee  
  4. Discrimination 
  5. Corporation 
  6. Habeas corpus 
  7. Law  
  8. Legal Obligation 
  9. Legal Person 
  10. Legal Right 
  11. Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) 
  12. Property  
  13. Self-awareness  
  14. Speciesism 

 

Definitions for the terms can be found here.  

List the vocabulary terms on the board and ask students if they can contribute any definitions.  

2. EXPLORE 

As a class, watch the Voiceless video ‘Animals: Property or Persons?’.  

3. DISCUSS 

After viewing the video, ask the students to complete the Legal Personhood APE Vocabulary Quizlet for this task.  

4. SHARE 

Ask students to share their experiences with the Quizlet. What terms are they still uncertain about? Have they learnt anything surprising?  

5. REFLECT 

Ask students to complete the following task: ‘Write a 100-word response to watching the Voiceless video ‘Animals: Property or Persons?’. How do you feel about what you learnt and what main point(s) did you take away from it?’  

 

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