Profs have the right to change the course of the class to what they think is best to teach the course. I did it all the time.
We had to do 10 - 15 hours of community service (political campaigning) in high school history class. I thought it was great in hindsight.
I would understand changing a book, topics, etc.; but something that adds so much extra work (because all of this is in addition to weekly article readings/discussion, plus our papers and individual presentations) should be offset or balanced by reducing something elsewhere. I suppose that's just me, though?
If I had been given enough warning to plan properly, I think it's a fine project. High school, though, I'm curious as to how that worked out. Then again, I went to a tiny high school in a relatively poor rural area, so a project like that wouldn't be really feasible, perhaps.