on our watch


What Should the World Do In Darfur?

Students will examine possible solutions offered to the situation in Darfur by three different entities: Oxfam (an NGO), independent voices and organizations (Eric Reeves, Mia Farrow, the "Genocide Olympics" campaign), and Zoe's Ark, an independent and now discredited "humanitarian" organization.

(Note to teachers: The purpose of including an examination of Zoe's Ark, a discredited private group, along with more effective endeavors, is to show students how the misguided efforts of well-meaning people and groups can damage the very people they are trying to help.)

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

Materials Needed:

Time Needed:


Step I: Opening the Lesson -- Eric Reeves

  1. Students will watch a clip from On Our Watch either as a homework assignment the night before the lesson or at the beginning of the lesson. The relevant segment is the first five minutes of the film contained in Chapter 1 "The First Genocide of the 21st Century." Go to www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darfur/ and click on "Watch the Full Program Online." Note: The last 30 seconds of the clip contains particularly disturbing images.
  2. Direct the students to reflect in writing about

    1. their emotional reactions to watching this clip about what is happening in Darfur,
    2. what Eric Reeves is saying and the tone of his words.
  3. As a whole class, invite students to share their reactions.

Step II: How Did This Happen? Why Did This Happen?

  1. Divide students into pairs or groups of three to four students and distribute Student Handout I - How Did This Happen? Why Did This Happen?
  2. Students will watch the entire film in class. The powerful and emotional nature of this film makes watching as a class community desirable.
  3. Based on the film, students will consider and assess the effectiveness of Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations until December 2006.
  4. Students will look at the map, timeline, and background information below in order to complete Student Handout I:

  5. After students have completed group work on Student Handout I, ask each student to write two or three sentences hypothesizing about whether or not there was a moment or moments when they think the present situation in Darfur might have been averted.
  6. Discuss as a whole class responses to Student Handout I and whether or not students feel the crisis in Darfur might have been averted. If so, how and when might the crisis have been averted?

Step III: Exploring Options for Darfur: What Needs To Happen in Darfur?

Introductory note: Remind students that although the United Nations, under different leadership, is undertaking new initiatives in late 2007, (see http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=88&Body=Sudan&Body1), it has not, up to this point, been effective at stopping the slaughter and displacement of the people of Darfur. In the absence of effective U.N. action up to now, other groups and individuals have attempted to take action. Tell students that the class will explore several of these groups in an attempt to decide on viable options for Darfur.

  1. Divide the class into six groups.
  2. Distribute Student Handout II: Exploring Options for Darfur.
  3. Assign each group to one of the six options: Oxfam, Eric Reeve, Mia Farrow, "Genocide Olympics Campaign," STAND and Zoe's Ark.
  4. Review with students how to approach and read Web sites. Then, ask students to use the Web sites provided to learn about each option. Working in their groups, students should complete the section of Handout II they were assigned.
  5. Each group will then present what it has learned to the whole class.
  6. As a whole class, students will use the questions at the bottom of Handout II as the basis for discussing what methods have been or might be successful in addressing the crisis in Darfur. Note: If students feel that another option (for example, the United Nations and the African Union force) is preferable, they can include them.
  7. As a culmination to the activity, students will either complete a written assignment or they will create a film or audio.

    The written assignment options:
    • A position paper recommending, based on what they have learned, a course of action in Darfur;
    • Letter to Eric Reeves, Mia Farrow or the Oxfam director responding to their efforts.
    The film or audio options:
    • Students can conduct interviews at their schools or in the larger community, either to assess the level of awareness about the situation in Darfur or to advocate or editorialize about action plans.