homeprevious reportswatch onlineusteacher centernewsletteremail FRONTLINEFRONTLINE (home)
truth, war and consequences


Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan
Iraq: How did we get here?

Viewing Lesson Plan
Student Viewing Guide

Post-Viewing Lesson Plan
Is Democracy Possible in Iraq?

Printable .pdf of Entire Guide
(Adobe Acrobat required)

» Post-Viewing Lesson Plan:

Is Democracy Possible in Iraq?

» Lesson Objectives:

This lesson will take 30 - 100 minutes, depending upon which procedures (A-E) are used.

In this lesson students will:

  • Explore their understanding of democracy.
  • Compare their concept of democracy with other students.
  • Create a class list of things needed in a democracy.
  • Compare their ideas to formalized definitions of democracy.
  • Research the possibility of democracy in Iraq.

» Materials Needed:

Students will need writing materials and Internet access. Colored pencils are desirable but not required.

» Procedure:

A. Defining Democracy:

1. To determine what view students have of democracy ask them to take out a pencil and paper. Tell students to listen carefully to a word that you are going to say and then draw a picture they think illustrates that word. The word they are to illustrate is "democracy." Give the students 3-5 minutes to create their illustration.

2. Have students show their drawings and explain how it captures their understanding of democracy.

3. Divide the class into groups of 4-5 students to discuss democracy. (Allow 10-15 minutes for discussion.)

4. Each group should come up with a list of 10 things necessary in a democracy. The list should be prioritized from 1-10 with 1 being the most important. Use the following questions to help create this list:

  • What is democracy?
  • How can democracy be defined?
  • What problems can interfere with democracy?
  • What is the relationship between individual rights and democracy?
  • What is the importance of a constitution in a democracy? Is one absolutely necessary?
  • What are the benefits of a democracy?

B. Creating a class list:

In a large group, create a class list by having one person from each group write their answers on the board and then eliminate the duplicate answers.

C. Checking student definitions against formal definitions:

Students should go back to their original groups and check the following sites for definitions of democracy from across the political spectrum:

1. Allow the students 10 minutes to compile their answers and then reassemble the groups.

2. The groups should compare their findings to the class list and select a student to present their findings to the class.

3. Ask the class if there are items that they feel should be added or deleted from the class list.

D. "Is Democracy Possible in Iraq?"

1. Reassemble the groups and have half of the class examine the possibility of democracy, while the other half looks at the obstacles to creating a democratic Iraq.

2. Using the class list as a guide, have students discuss whether Iraq has the characteristics necessary for democracy?

3. After compiling their information, the students should return to their small groups to make an easily readable graph or summary sheet.

4. Encourage the students to use a wide variety of sources to research this topic. The following are Web sites that provide divergent views; however the students should not limit themselves to these:

Background Information on Iraq:

Iraq: An Overview
This Web site was created for students by the U.N. It has many general statistics about Iraq, including information about the country's demographics, economy, environment, health and technology. [URL: http://cyberschoolbus.un.org/infonation/index.asp?id=368]

CIA World Factbook: Iraq
The CIA World Factbook offers very detailed statistical information on Iraq, including the country's ethnic and religious makeup. The site was updated in August 2003, to reflect changes since the March-April war to remove Saddam Hussein. [URL: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iz.html]

Iraq Country Information
This Web site, from the U.S. State Department, offers links to administration officials' remarks on Iraq, fact sheets on U.S. efforts to rebuild the country, and the reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that the administration disseminated in making its case for war. [URL: http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c3212.htm]

Country Watch: Iraq
Here, students can gain up to the minute news coverage about Iraq. This site provides links to political, social and economic information on 191 countries. Its management team emphasizes their expertise in economics and academics. [URL: http://www.countrywatch.com/cw_country.asp?vCOUNTRY=81]

This Web site, offered by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, provides extensive links to coverage about Iraq in the following topic areas: Arts & Humanities, Archaeology, Economy, Government, Health & Medicine, Kurdish Regional Government, and News & Media. Of special note is the collection of maps maintained by the Perry-Castaņeda Library. [URL: http://menic.utexas.edu/menic/Countries_and_Regions/Iraq]

Iraq, Islam & Democracy

Analysts Assess Impact of Full Democracy in Iraq on Arab Governments
This report, by Meredith Buell for the Voice of America, discusses the assertion of Bush administration officials that a democratic Iraq will have a domino effect in the Middle East by pressuring other Arab governments in the region to become more democratic. [URL: http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=4B33F2D4-7FD2-48B0-B19CBFF32A4A17D4]

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy is a nonprofit organization located in Washington D.C. Its Web site states: "There is no narrow ideological or sectarian litmus test for involvement in CSID -- the organization has no agenda other than the production and dissemination of rigorous research into Islam and democracy." [URL: http://www.islam-democracy.org]

Do Islam and Democracy Mix?
Here is an archived discussion on Islam and democracy offered by the NPR program "On Point." The guests were Khaled Abou El Fadl, an Islamic scholar, professor of law at UCLA and the author of "Islam and the Challenge of Democracy" in the April/May Boston Review; Fawaz Gerges, professor of International Relations at Sarah Lawrence College and author of "The Islamists and the West: Idology vs. Pragmatism;" and Jack Beatty, senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly. [URL: http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2003/05/20030513_b_main.asp]

Islam and Democracy: Unveiling a Relationship
The Message is an Islamic magazine published by Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Its April/May issue provided comprehensive coverage of the Islamic view of democracy. [URL: http://www.messageonline.org/2002aprilmay/cover.htm]

E. Examining Democracy in Iraq and America

1. Have the groups present their findings to the class. Each student should get a copy of each group's summary statement or graph after the presentations.

2. Have the students discuss: What is the future for Iraq?

» Method of Asssessment:

  • Students should write a letter to the editor expressing their concerns for democracy in Iraq or the United States.
  • Students should turn in all group and individual work.

» Extending the Lesson:

On Sept. 26, 2003 the Voice of America reported that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell hopes Iraq would complete a new constitution in six months. When this constitution is ratified, Iraq could prepare for elections and a new government.

Media Literacy Note: Students need to be aware that Web sites sometimes present only one view of an issue. They should be encouraged to interrogate Web sites even as they are reading. Guiding questions as they work through these activities should be: What did you learn from this site? What didn't you learn from this site? Who sponsors this source? What bias might the sponsor have?

home » previous reports » watch online » about us » teacher center » newsletter » email FRONTLINE
privacy policy » wgbh » pbsi

new content copyright ©1996-2003 pbs online and wgbh/frontline