This companion document to the Issue in Focus provides educators with guidance to incorporate the content into classroom teaching. This component is geared toward grade 6-12 teachers, with connections across subjects and disciplines.
Contents of this Classroom Companion include:
- Student readings
- Discussion questions
- Lesson Ideas/Curriculum
- Additional Resources
- National Standards
Below are some links to articles and reports at various reading levels that would be appropriate to use with students in learning more about the conflict in Darfur.
Advanced: Darfur Update - October 2007, from Save Darfur
Intermediate: Darfur: The Genocide Continues, from the New York Times Upfront
Beginner: Q&A: Sudan's Darfur Conflict, from the BBC
Possible Discussion Questions:
- Describe the situation that has been occurring in Darfur since 2003.
- What is genocide? According to what you have read, do you think the crisis in Darfur is genocide?
- Besides the crisis in Darfur, what other issues are facing Sudan today?
- What has been the response of the United States to the crisis in Darfur? Do you agree or disagree with the U.S. position? Why or why not?
- What has been the response of the international community to the crisis in Darfur? What do you think the international community should do?
- Explain what the concept of sovereignty is. The government of Sudan, centered in Khartoum, has sovereignty over the country, including what is going on in Darfur. Do you think other countries should intervene in a country’s sovereign affairs? If so, when should this happen? Who will decide?
This portion of the guide contains suggestions for teaching ideas and learning activities for incorporating this issue into your curriculum - across the disciplines. In addition, there are links to recommended curriculum units that are available online.
- Refer back to the Players Section of the Issue in Focus and select several of the key players described. Once students understand a bit about the background of the situation in Sudan, assign each of them (or groups of students) to take on the role of one of these key players. Have students role play in simulated peace talks to end the conflict with these key players at the table.
- In a unit on the Cold War, study Sudan as an example of a proxy war, and draw connections between these entanglements and the situation in Sudan today.
- Sudan is a large country with a very diverse physical geography – and could be an interesting case study for geography courses. Arable land is disappearing in Sudan, and there is an ongoing struggle between herders and farmers over remaining land, which also plays into the economics and politics of the genocide in Darfur.
- Sudan was a colonial territory of Britain and gained independence in 1956. The effects of colonial rule on modern Sudan could be studied in units on colonialism.
- When studying about historical genocides such as the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, make the connection to contemporary genocide in Darfur. Facing History and Ourselves has an excellent site for genocide resources.
- Analyzing U.S. foreign policy toward Sudan and its impacts presents a great opportunity for history and government students to examine foreign policy in action, and even design their own foreign policy proposals for what the U.S. should do. World History and International Relations students can also delve into the role of the United Nations in this conflict and debate what actions should be taken.
- Advocacy efforts against the genocide in Darfur provide a perfect opportunity for students to practice their persuasive writing – by writing persuasive essays, letters to the editor, or op-ed pieces.
- Analyze the way the mainstream media portrays the conflict in Darfur. Is the coverage fair and balanced? Does the media present an accurate view of all the factors involved in the conflict, or does it tend to break down the situation as just an ethnic conflict between Arabs and non-Arab Africans? To see some more information about the latter question, see Africa Action's Darfur in Context.
- Responding to Literature – there are some significant fiction and non-fiction works (see Additional Resources) detailing the personal stories of Sudanese during the north-south civil war and the Darfur conflict. Students can write literary responses using these texts, as well as analyze the historical context of literature and point of view.
- In earth sciences, study the impacts of desertification in northern Africa, including Sudan. Make connections to the impact that the continuing loss of arable land has on the people in Sudan.
- Many experts believe that global warming is already having an impact in Africa, and in Spring 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly stated global warming was a leading cause of the Darfur conflict. Research the impacts of global warming in Africa, and make predictions about future impacts in Sudan in particular, and how this will affect people living there.
- Humanitarian agencies are spending a significant amount of money to try to assist and protect the people of Darfur. Research some of the countries and agencies aiding Darfur, and make a chart to illustrate their contributions. As a provocative comparison, also research the amount of money Sudan earns each year in oil revenue.
- The humanitarian situation continues to worsen because of the genocide in Darfur, but how does this compare to other humanitarian crises? Using the information in the student readings, have students make a chart of the number of people killed, wounded, and those who have had to flee their homes as refugees or IDPs, then have them find this information for another recent humanitarian conflict (or historical conflict or emergency).
- Use information from the readings to review mathematical concepts. For example, there are about 39 million people living in Sudan, and about 3 million people have been affected by the conflict (400,000 killed, 2.5 million displaced). What percent of the total population in Sudan has been affected by this conflict?
Recommended Curriculum Units:
Understanding Sudan: A teaching and learning resource
This site includes 5 teaching modules that strive to contextualize the conflict in Sudan by providing in depth background on various cultural, political, historical, and economic factors. This site also includes extensive resource lists that include primary documents, analysis, news reports, and more.
CHOICES Program: Violence in Darfur, Sudan
This lesson plan has students explore the violence in Sudan using multiple sources, and then evaluate the effectiveness of different online sources. Students also analyze the debate over whether the violence in Sudan constitutes genocide and assess the international community’s response. CHOICES also offers a curriculum unit entitled “Confronting Genocide: Never Again?” which traces the evolution of the international community’s response to genocide and examines how the US has responded to five cases of genocide.
Globalization101: Darfur: A Case Study
This lesson plan features a case study of the situation in Sudan. Discussion questions appear at various points within the article, challenging students to more fully understand the issues. The site also contains a list of internet resources that can be used for further study.
Facing History and Ourselves: It’s About Time: Responding to the Crisis in Darfur
Often students learn about events as historical moments with distinct beginning, middles and ends. But, what happens when students have to confront a current event that has no end? In this lesson, students will not only gain a better understanding of how the genocide in Darfur has unfolded over time, but they will also consider how our actions are shaped by the information we have at specific moments in time.
This list of resources is provided if you want to find some more specific information about the issues presented in this issue of the World Savvy Monitor. These resources include additional books, films, and web sites that will provide more nuanced or specific information about aspects of this issue.
The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari
New in Spring 2008, this is a moving memoir by a Zaghwa tribesman who grew up in a village in Darfur. Wonderful for showing how life in the region was not always marked by destruction, his tale of his childhood portrays the beauty of traditional village life. He lived through the destruction and terror beginning in 2003, losing most of his family and friends and struggling to survive. He went on to risk his life to act as a translator for journalists, aid organizations, and the UN – his stories are vivid illustrations of life on the front lines of a genocide. The author is currently on a book tour and can be heard in various venues.
What Is the What by Dave Eggers
What Is the What is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee of the Sudanese civil war. Fleeing from his village in the mid-1980s, Deng becomes one of the so-called Lost Boys – children pursued by militias, government soldiers, lions and hyenas and myriad disease, in their search for sanctuary, first in Ethiopia and the Kenya. Eventually Deng is resettled in the United States with almost 4,000 other young Sudanese men, and a very different struggle – to adapt to life in the U.S. – begins. Available at Amazon.com
They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three lost boys from Sudan by Alphonsion Deng, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak, and Judy A. Bernstein
Raised by Sudan's Dinka tribe, the Deng brothers and their cousin Benjamin were all under the age of seven when they left their homes after terrifying attacks on their villages during the Sudanese civil war. In 2001, the three were relocated to the U.S. as part of an international refugee relief program. Arriving in this country, they immediately began to fill composition books with the memoirs of chaos and culture shock collected here. Good for teenage readers. Available at Amazon.com
Voices of Sudan by David Johnson
Voices of Sudan is a full-color photographic portrait that paints a picture of one of the world's most challenged countries, Sudan. Steeped in a dark history of religious persecution and genocide, bathed in constant chaos and turmoil, and touched with ongoing conflict, these photos and stories poignantly reveal the struggle of the Sudanese people. All proceeds go toward food, wells, and medicine for the Sudanese. Available at Amazon.com and www.silentimages.org.
Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan written by Mary Williams; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
This picture book tells the fictional story of Garang, who is orphaned as a result of the Sudanese civil war, becoming one of the Lost Boys. This is a good book for young readers (ages 9-12). Available at Amazon.com
The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars (African Issues) by Douglas Hamilton Johnson
This book gives a readable yet nuanced and well-informed analysis of the history and politics of Sudan’s civil wars. Factors such as humanitarian aid, oil revenue, and terrorist organizations, are cited and examined as underlying issues that have exacerbated the violence. Available at Amazon.com
Sand and Sorrow
This HBO documentary, executive produced and narrated by George Clooney, gives an inside look at the crisis in Sudan, examining the plight of internally displaced people, responses of the international community, and the failed peace process. The accompanying website features interviews with the filmmakers and experts, a slideshow, and links to additional resources. Available at Amazon.com and at HBO.
Darfur Diaries: Message from Home
This film provides an inside look into the tragedy in Darfur. A team of three independent filmmakers monitored the worsening political and humanitarian crisis in 2004 and recognized that the mainstream media offered marginal and inadequate coverage. They set out with the goal of providing a platform for the people of the Darfur to speak for themselves about their experiences, their fears, and their hopes for the future. There is also an accompanying book. Available at Amazon.com and Netflix.
The Devil Came on Horseback
This film exposes the tragedy taking place in Darfur as seen through the eyes of an American witness who has since returned to the U.S. to take action to stop it. www.thedevilcameonhorseback.com
Sudan: Translating Genocide*
This documentary, produced by MTV, follows three American college students as they travel to Sudan to investigate the crisis. Watch online at MTV.
*This film does not provide detailed background or context, but is produced by MTV, making it more attractive to teens.
Lost Boys of Sudan
Lost Boys of Sudan is an Emmy-nominated feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, a world away from home, they find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia. This film gives context about the North/South conflict in Sudan, not the current conflict in Darfur. Available at www.lostboysfilm.com, Amazon.com, and Netflix.
MULTIMEDIA AND WEB RESOURCES
The Online NewsHour: Crisis in Sudan
This website includes up-to-date news coverage of the crisis, in addition to lesson plans, interactive features, videos, and more.
Frontline: On Our Watch - Chronology: Four Years of Failure
This is a concise, easy-to-understand timeline that includes major developments in the Sudan crisis, from 2003 through the summer of 2007. The site also features links to key documents and speeches.
Frontline/World: Sudan - The Quick and the Terrible, January 2005
This website includes interviews, videos, maps, fact sheets, as well as an extensive list of links to further resource materials.
ChannelOne: The Suffering of Sudan – Inside the world’s worst humanitarian crisis
This website includes interactive features, a downloadable version of ChannelOne’s coverage of the crisis, a guide for how to help, and a forum to voice opinions about the crisis. Good for describing the situation at the peak of the crisis, but no updates since 2005.
Washington Post Special Report: Sudan in Crisis
This special report from the Washington Post is from 2006, but has a good timeline, basic background information about the country, and great graphics to grab students’ attention. Would be a good overview of the height of the conflict.
Human Rights Watch
This website has good background articles on the crisis in Sudan, as well as up-to-date news articles relating to the various aspects of the situation. High level.
The Sudan Tribune
This website devotes a large section to the crisis in Darfur and is a great resource for tracking media articles and commentary from around the world.
The United Nations African Mission in Darfur
The UNAMID website is updated regularly with information about the deployment of the peacekeeping force.
Activities described in this Classroom Companion correspond to the following national standards from McREL (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning).
World History Standards:
- Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
World History Topics:
- 56. End of European Colonial Rule in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean
- 63. European, American, and Japanese Imperial Expansion
- 85. Human and Civil Rights
- 121. Multinational and International Organizations
- 1. Understand and know how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
- 2. Understands the historical perspective
- 2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment
- 6. Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
- 13. Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface
- 15. Understands how physical systems affect human systems
- 16. Understands the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources
- 1. Gathers and uses information for research purposes
- 6. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts
- 7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
- 10. Understands the characteristics and components of the media
Earth and Space Sciences:
- 1. Understands atmospheric processes and the water cycle
- 1. Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process
- 3. Uses basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation
- 6. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
- 9. Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics