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A world of conflict

August 15, 2001
Web posted at: 4:16 PM EDT (2016 GMT)

Overview: What is at the heart of world conflicts? What is the likelihood that they can be resolved, especially when there is a long history of bad blood? After examining several intense international conflicts, invite students to consider strategic approaches to dissolving the dissension among embattled nations.

Curriculum connections: World history, current events, geography, global issues, culture, government

Objectives Students will be able to:

  • Locate world conflict "hot spots" on a map and describe their history, current status and key issues.
  • Research and document the progression of conflicts.
  • Report on the status of global conflicts and develop a charter for resolving them.

National Council for Social Studies
Middle & High School Grades

II. Time, Continuity, and Change: Students apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

IV. Power, Authority, & Governance: Students analyze and evaluate conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations.

IX. Global Connections: Students explain conditions and motivations that contribute to conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations.

Materials article, "World Conflicts"
Internet access
Newspaper and magazine articles on each world conflict
Large wall size world map
Chart paper
Bulletin board push pins
Sample charters (such as those from the United Nations)

Suggested time

Article and questions only: 35 minutes

Full lesson plan: Two to three classroom periods

1) Write "world conflict" on the chalkboard and ask students to define the term in the context of current events. Display a map of the world. Using colored push pins, have students locate nations on the map involved in ongoing conflicts. Briefly provide background on key conflicts that are correctly identified.
2) Direct students to read the article "World Conflicts" and respond to the following questions:

  • Based on the article, how would you define world conflict? What is the impact of conflict on the involved nations?
  • Briefly describe the issue at the core of each nation's conflict. What are the key differences and similarities among the featured conflicts? What efforts have been made to curb or end the wars between nations?
  • Which nations have a long history of conflict? Why do you think these conflicts continue? What is necessary to resolve them?
3) Divide students into groups representing each of the conflicts featured in the article. Instruct each group to research the progression of its conflict and create a timeline on chart paper. Display the completed timelines around the classroom.
4) Invite students to review the timelines and design a grid with headings reflecting conflict issues, such as cause, type, victims, history, length, conflict resolution strategies, parties involved, etc.

Instruct each group to write a brief report on its conflict, with recommended strategies for its resolution. Have each group assume the role of national policy makers and present its report before a mock United Nations peacekeeping committee. After each group presents its data, direct the groups, as committee members, to create a charter outlining global conflict resolution strategies.

Students can assume the roles of war victims, soldiers, politicians, peacekeepers, journalists, etc., and present monologues about their experiences living through and/or participating in a specific world conflict.

Point out that throughout history, international conflicts have existed. These conflicts are sometimes resolved, largely through war or political intervention, or they evolve into a different conflict. Have students select a historic world conflict to research, and determine whether it was resolved -- and if so, how -- or whether it has progressed into a modern-day problem. After students share their findings, instruct them to identify at which point during the conflict's progression might intervention or a different course of action have changed its end or current status.

• War, Peace & Security Server : Contemporary conflicts
• World Conflicts Documents Project - modern and contemporary history -
• Colombia Civil War
• NDCF World Conflict Count - 2000

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