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Choices in International Conflict: With a Focus on Security Issues in Asia
Comprehensive Unit

Grade Level

Secondary - Community College


1998 (191 pages)


Hardcover $31.95

The purpose of this unit is to examine various case studies of international conflict, with a focus on security issues in Asia.

Through each of the lessons of the curriculum unit, students will examine these case studies and explore various modes of international conflict resolution and conflict management. Students will be asked to question why and when one method is hosen by conflict participants over other methods. Students will also consider the positive and negative results of particular conflict resolution and conflict management methods.

The analytical techniques introduced in this curriculum unit help bring a wide range of conflicts into a more understandable context. Questions about the characteristics and mechanisms of conflict resolution and conflict management become practically relevant to students as they gain experience in identifying, analyzing, and understanding conflicts. Through the intelligent use of data and analysis, students can gain important insights into their worlds. This curriculum unit consists of six lessons, briefly described next.

Lesson One consists of four parts. The focus of parts 1-3 is to provide students with a conceptual framework for dealing with international security issues. Students develop a definition of security and conflict and learn several conflict management and conflict resolution methods. Students also discover how international conflict affects their personal lives and why the maintenance of international security is important.

Lesson Two examines U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Students examine conflicts over the U.S. military bases in Okinawa from varying perspectives. Students incorporate these perspectives into role plays for presentations in front of the class. Following the role plays, the class considers options for resolving or managing the conflicts surrounding the U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

Lesson Three introduces students to the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis. In part 1 of this lesson, students examine a brief history of cross-Strait relations and attitudes, written from either a Taiwanese or mainland Chinese perspective from 1949-1978, 1979-1987, or 1988-1995. In part 2, students, in small groups, examine Japanese, mainland Chinese, U.S., and Taiwanese editorials and political cartoons on the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis.

Lesson Four introduces students to security issues related to the Korean Peninsula. Students representing the countries of China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States engage in the development of newspapers that present perspectives from these countries.

Lesson Five examines Cambodia and the problem of resolving violent conflicts with long histories. Students learn about multilateral mediation and aid as a means of influencing domestic security and examine the United Nations' multidimensional peacekeeping mission to Cambodia in 1992.

Lesson Six examines security issues between Russia and Japan, with a specific focus on the "Northern Territories" dispute. In this lesson, students will be given the historical background on the "Northern Territories" and how the islands that make up the "Northern Territories" came to be a barrier to Russo-Japanese relations. Students will be asked to characterize four major perspectives on the issue: Japanese, Russian, U.S., and Ainu (the indigenous people). They then apply their knowledge of the issue in a simulated international tribunal.

Unit Goals

In this curriculum unit, students will:

  • learn about international conflict
  • learn about security issues in Asia affecting the United States and Japan
  • learn about the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance
  • recognize that in any conflict situation a variety of alternative management and resolution methods exists
  • recognize that the geographic and historical contexts of a conflict are important to understanding the current situation
  • distinguish between conflict resolution and conflict management
  • gain some tools to analyze international conflicts
  • recognize how complex many conflicts are
  • determine whether generalizations can be drawn about the preferability of one type of conflict resolution of conflict management over others
  • learn skills to enhance awareness and communication
  • work effectively in small and large groups

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