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Crisis in the Balkans: Ethnic Conflict in Bosnia

Produced by Mac Moncrief, Reseda High School, 1997

Day I & II

Overview: Connections between historical events past and present with their resulting implications are an important concept that needs to be be developed in students.

Purpose: To provide the students an activity that will draw them into wanting more information about this conflict.

Objectives: Students will see the senselessness of the conflict.

Activities and Procedures: The class will watch a fifty-five minute video from the PBS Frontline series entitled "Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo." The video focuses on the relationship between a Moslem girl and Serbian boy who fall in love before the breakup of Yugoslavia and stay together in Sarajevo as old ethnic hatreds drive the country into civil war. They are eventually killed by snipers as they try to flee the death and destruction of a surrounded Sarajevo.

After viewing the video and reading "A letter from Sarajevo" the class will be asked to write a brief summary of the video followed by a discussion of the issues raised in the video.

Day II

Purpose: To provide the students with background information on the history of the Balkans and the ethnic groups at conflict in Bosnia.

Objectives: Students will begin to see what motivates people in the present to kill and persecute others because of events in the past.

Activities and Procedures: Students will be given a handout on the history of the region from which they will create a timeline.


Purpose: To provide the students with a basic understanding of the geography of the region and its relation to the various ethnic groups.

Objectives: Students will understand why the intermingling geographically of the various ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia and led to such a vicious struggle for supremacy in mixed regions.

Activities and Procedures: Students will read the Junior Scholastic magazine for Oct. 13, 1995, (Bosnia, Is there hope for Peace) pages 4-7. They will draw a freehand map of the region using the map provided in the article and answer the questions at the end of the article.

Day IV

Purpose: In order to create some variety and maintain interest while studying this topic.

Objectives: Students will read the material provided during the course of the week with the purpose of highlighting possible questions and answers for the Jeopardy game. Students will develop study skills for finding the most important information in an article.

Activities and Procedures: Students will be divided into groups using the handouts and activities from the previous lessons. Each group will create questions with answers based on those materials. Members of each group will rate their questions based on degree of difficulty from $100 to $400. The class will then be divided in two groups competing against each other based on the questions and answers submitted.

The Jeopardy Game begins with one student from the Blue Team. He or she selects one of the six article categories and also a dollar amount. (He or she may not choose the article that his group designed.) I then read the question selected. They have fifteen seconds to come up with the correct response. During the course of the game, if a student believes his answer to be correct and the group's answer who originated the question to be incorrect, he may challenge the question and prove them wrong with his evidence from the class materials.

Day V

(If necessary, time will be taken to conclude the Jeopardy Game from the previous day.)

Overview: Conflict resolution is a trend to which students need to become familiar. They should understand the possible impact that alternative dispute resolution may have in their lives.

Purpose: The lesson encourages students to think of different ways in which they and countries may solve their problems.

Objectives: Students will identify the problem, the choices and the consequences both positive and negative. The students will work together to make a group decision as to the best course of action in this crisis.

Resources and Materials: Class handout reviewing the guidelines for the activity.

Activities and Procedures: I will briefly review the events leading up to the ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia and give the class fifteen minutes to formulate options and their consequences. Once they have done that I will ask the class to assume they are European members of the United Nations and ask them to provide the President of the United Nations options he might pursue. Each option will be written on the black board along with the positive and negative consequences. After all options have been discussed the class will attempt to come to a consensus as to the best way to resolve the crisis with the options presented. Time will be allowed to discuss the actual actions taken by the United Nations and NATO during this crisis and their effectiveness.

Guidelines for Bosnian Crisis Discussion:

  1. All I expect you to know is what we have covered the last three days and what is on this sheet. All you need to bring to this lesson is your mind.
  2. When we are ready to begin, we will step back into the early 1990's, with me as the President of the United Nations and each of you as European representatives to the United Nations.
  3. First, I will briefly review the situation at hand and clarify anything that you don't understand. Then, I will ask you to suggest to me options (economic, diplomatic, military) that the United Nations might pursue in the present crisis.
  4. Once we have most of the options available to us as a government, we will go through and evaluate the good and bad aspects of each option presented together. We will look at our options and consider: world opinion and support, military costs and the chances of success.
  5. After we evaluate the options, I will review what actions were taken and answer questions regarding ongoing developments toward a resolution.

Debrief: Since this will be a mini-unit inside my final unit on current history (1980-present day) the majority of the questions on the unit exam will deal with other topics but the following are examples of questions that will be given relating the Bosnian Crisis:

  1. How do the Serbs justify or explain their actions against other ethnic minorities in Bosnia ?
  2. Why do you think the outside world was slow to react to the atrocities that were occurring in Bosnia ?

Evaluation: Students' ability to report and demonstrate what they have learned integrating the knowledge gained into their responses on the unit test and the insightfulness of their questions during the unit itself.

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