The poster below was use by the Canadian government during WWI to encourage Canadians to buy War Loan Bonds to support the war effort. Consider possible links between this example of a TOK exhibition object and the five exhibition prompts listed below.
11. Can new knowledge change established values or beliefs?
At certain points in time fighting in WWI (and other wars) was viewed as patriotic, noble, courageous or conversely a useless sacrifice. These attitudes towards war sometimes changed due to new knowledge. From a scholarly / academic perspective, historians’ view on specific issues in WWI have changed due to new evidence, new lines of analysis, etc.
12. Is bias inevitable in the production of knowledge?
First of all, consider the different way in which knowledge can be produced from the war bonds poster – e.g. by studying it as a historical primary source or by studying it from an art POV. Then, look at the different ways the production of knowledge could be biased and whether or not this bias is inevitable.
13. How can we know that current knowledge is an improvement upon past knowledge?
With this prompt and this WWI poster an exhibition needs to show that current knowledge of the poster (or WWI) is an improvement on past knowledge. The exhibition could look at older and current interpretations of the WWI poster (and the War Loan Bond campaign) and examine how we can be more confident that the current knowledge is an improvement.
14. Does some knowledge belong only to particular communities of knowers?
There are particular communities of knowers related to this WWI poster – historians, veterans, artists, people who study propaganda, etc. Each group could argue that there are certain kinds of knowledge connected to the poster that belongs only to people within their community.
15. What constraints are there on the pursuit of knowledge?
With some other objects the “constraints” could be ethical or legal (i.e. in medical research). With the WWI poster though these types of constraints don’t apply. Time is often a consideration in the study of history since many primary sources are no longer available. New analysis is always possible but gathering new evidence is often problematic.