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An Introduction to Humanitarian Intervention


Students examine recent case studies – Rwanda, Bosnia and Somalia -- and grapple with policy options to form their own opinions about the value of intervening in humanitarian crises. Students will become more aware of the plight of war-torn nations, from which many refugees have sought asylum in the United States, perhaps including their own classmates and peers. Students will hone citizenship skills in evaluating ethical dilemmas and policy trade-offs.
Curriculum Link: Author: Pey-Yi Chu, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)

Expected Student Outcomes/Objectives

The lessons in this unit have specific learning objectives listed. The following are larger goals for the curriculum unit as a whole.

Students will:
• learn about international conflicts and crises from the recent past and recognize the importance of studying them
• appreciate the complexity of world events and the challenges of addressing them
• critically evaluate priorities and trade-offs before coming to a conclusion about policy decisions
• work cooperatively with others in a small group
• be able to apply acquired skills to other world events and conflicts

Description of Activities

Lesson One first defines humanitarian intervention in foreign policy, meaning not just delivery of humanitarian and food aid, but use of military force. The lesson sets the context for the unit by introducing students to the challenges policymakers and analysts must face when confronted with a humanitarian crisis in a sovereign state. Some of the questions explored are: Who is responsible for implementing humanitarian intervention, and how does this affect which cases are chosen? If humanitarian intervention cannot be implemented universally, should it be done at all? What are the risks involved in intervening in the affairs of another country? Familiarity with the challenges of intervention will prepare students to re-examine three cases of humanitarian intervention failures in the next lesson.

Lesson Two gives students the opportunity to assume the role of United Nations policymakers as they study one of the three case studies-Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda-in greater depth. With the background knowledge of humanitarian intervention acquired from Lesson One, students will consider the positives and negatives of four possible policy options before deciding upon a plan of action and synthesizing their results in a group presentation. In addition to grappling with the specific circumstances of their own crisis, students will learn about the other case studies by listening to their classmates' presentations and watching video lectures.

Lesson Three takes a closer look at NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Not only will students study the debate surrounding the decision to intervene in Kosovo, but they will also look at the implications of NATO's war on future humanitarian interventions. In this lesson, emphasis is placed on analyzing and interpreting primary source materials, including political cartoons, newspaper editorials, and political speeches.

Instructional Materials Needed

VCR or Computers for use with excerpts of Stanford lectures. Realplayer plug-in (free) if using CD-ROM

Instructional Materials Provided

Complete curriculum instructions, handouts, additional resources, and VHS tapes or CD-ROMs (PC or Mac) with lectures.

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Additional criteria

Cost: $39.95

Curriculum type: Unit

Academic subject area: History/Social Sciences

States' Career Clusters: Government & Public Administration; Education & Training

California Industry sector(s): Public Services; Education, Child Development, and Family Services

Duration: ten classroom periods

Grade Targets: 9, 10, 11, 12, Post high school

Levels of Expertise for CTE: Capstone/Advanced, Concentration/Skill building

Standards Addressed: Detailed documentation of alignment with Common Core, NGSS, C3 or CTE Standards provided

Source: Organization/Publisher-developed

Curriculum Link:

Reviewer Comments

Useful for any career field in which knowledge of the background of immigrant populations would be valuable, as well as for government or public administration.

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