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Preventing Deadly Conflict: Toward a World Without War

Preventing Deadly Conflict: Toward a World Without War

Regular price $39.95 Sale

Comprehensive Unit
96 pages
Grade Level: High School – Community College
Includes curriculum unit + 5 transparencies

Secondary school students often show little interest in violence that occurs in remote, unknown areas of the world, and may not believe that deadly conflict is preventable. However, there is a breadth of options available to prevent or control deadly conflict in our world. This curriculum module aims to introduce high school students to the tools that have been successfully used to prevent violence, and to demonstrate why it is urgent that the United States act to prevent conflict beyond its borders. Students will learn how to use these tools, and will discover that not only can deadly conflict be predicted; it can also be prevented or limited. Through group work and simulations, students will gain experience in analyzing deadly conflicts and prescribing strategies for preventing them.

Although this module focuses on large-scale intergroup violence, the conflict resolution and prevention skills that students learn can also be applied to more personally relevant situations. Deadly conflict often occurs because a group of people see violence as the only way to achieve their means. Though the atrocities committed by the Serbian military in Kosovo and the tragic shootings at Columbine High School represent different types and scales of violence, they are both cases where people turned to violence because they may have believed there was no other way to achieve their goals. Perhaps by learning how global deadly conflict can be avoided, students can also prevent the outbreak of violence in their own schools and communities.

Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict

This module is based on the Final Report of the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. The Commission was established in 1994 in order to "address the looming threats to world peace of intergroup violence and to advance new ideas for the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict." This module is intended to make the content of the Commission's Final Report accessible to secondary school students, and was developed with the funding and support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


The following is a brief summary of the organization of this module.

Lesson One: What Is "Deadly Conflict"?

This lesson encourages students to think about how deadly conflict affects different groups of people and why each of us should care about large-scale violence anywhere in the world.

Students discover how much knowledge they possess about recent armed conflicts in the world and learn some of the common causes of conflict. They then view slides of recent conflict scenes and ponder the effects of deadly conflicts, specifically in regard to non-combatants. Finally, students discuss whether or not Americans should care about deadly conflict in other parts of the world.

Lesson Two: Analyzing Conflict

This lesson introduces five tools of foreign policy that governments can use to influence events in other countries. After creating posters and giving presentations about these tools, students analyze the war in Bosnia to learn about the causes, effects, and essential elements of a real-world deadly conflict, as well as possible solutions.

Students are divided into ten groups and given information on the situation in Bosnia in the autumn of 1992. Each group is responsible for one foreign policy tool, with half the groups assuming the role of the United Nations and the other half simulating the United States. Each group explains how it might use its foreign policy tool to end the conflict, and then the class compares its intervention plan to what actually happened in Bosnia from 1993 to 1995.

Lesson Three: How Might Recent Conflicts Have Been Prevented?

In groups, students research a recent area of conflict from the ten choices presented in the lesson and create a plan that might have prevented violence from breaking out in that area. In their groups, students will find the causes of conflict in that particular area and decide how to address these causes.

The groups then teach their classmates about the conflict they researched and offer their prescribed solution to the conflict. The module ends with the class creating its own list of the most common causes of conflict and the most important elements of any conflict prevention plan.

Module Goals

Each of the lessons in this curriculum module has specific learning objectives listed. The following reflect larger goals for the module as a whole.

In this curriculum module, students will:

  • develop an understanding of the nature of "deadly conflict"
  • address the essential question: Why should we care about deadly conflict around the world?
  • identify the causes of deadly conflict and gain experience in predicting deadly conflict
  • become familiar with the tools that nations use to prevent or resolve deadly conflicts
  • determine and analyze the tools the international community and individual countries used to affect the conflict in Bosnia
  • reflect and speculate upon which tools could have been used to prevent or minimize the violence in Bosnia during the early stages of the conflict
  • learn about several recent deadly conflicts in the world
  • prescribe strategies that could have been used to prevent recent deadly conflicts
  • consider how the tools for preventing deadly conflict on a large scale might be applied to smaller conflicts (e.g., interpersonal conflicts)
  • learn to think critically and make informed opinions
  • evaluate different opinions and generate alternative perspectives on an issue
  • learn methods for enhancing awareness and communication
  • work effectively in small and large groups
  • learn to organize and express opinions
  • research a topic and organize information into a cohesive report