28 April 2014

IB Global Politics Class Awards

Please submit your responses to this survey no later than 12.00 on Thursday, 1 May.

IB Glopo HL1: Calendar for the next two weeks

'afternoon folks,

As promised, here is the revised schedule we put together in this morning's class. I've also enclosed a general schedule of readings to be done outside of class over the next two weeks. I know that this seems like a lot, and it is, but having a command of this source material will leave you well positioned for completing your practice HL Extension Task that will serve as your summative assessment for the year.

29 April: Watch & debrief, Kony, M23, and the real rebels of Congo
1 May: Read Kaufmann, C. (1996). Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil War. International Security, 20(4), 136-175.
2 May: Play, Grab That Spoon! with Kaufmann (1996)

5 May: Prep for simulation, Bamara Border Dispute
6 May: Simulation & debrief, Bamara Border Dispute
8 May: Read, Byman, D. (2002). Dilemmas and choices. In Keeping the peace: Lasting solutions to ethnic conflicts (pp. 213-225). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
9 May: Play, Review Roulette with Byman (2002)


IB Glopo HL2: Calendar for the rest of the year

'morning Seniors,

Here's the calendar we built together in class this morning. You'll want to be sure that you're maintaining steady progress in your revision as we head into our final days together (sniffle). A few of you asked for additional resources to keep you abreast of world events in these final weeks, so here they are: NPR World News; Council on Foreign Relations; The World Next Week (CFR podcast); PRI The World (podcast).

29 April: Mock Paper 2: Human Rights
1 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2
2 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide

5 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
6 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
8 May: Mock Paper 2-Development
9 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2

12 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
13 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
15 May: Mock Paper 2-Peace and Conflict
16 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2

19 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
20 May: Final review, discussion, meditation
22 May: IB Glopo Breakfast (7.45am); IB Global Politics Paper 2 Exam (8.30am)

10 April 2014

IB Global Politics: the weeks ahead, 12-27 April

'evening folks,

Here is the general outline of coursework for the next two weeks. Again, I will be in Costa Rica from 17-26 April. Before you ask, I have promised Molly that I will not bring my computer with me for this trip. So no, I won't be checking emails or on Twitter (well, maybe...a little) while we're away. I will be relaxing and reading (this, this, and this) in a hammock in the rainforest, at the beach, or otherwise lounging about in the happiest place on earth. Here's a few things to keep you busy while we're apart:

HL2: Complete the IB Global Politics Examination Review
This document is the only thing that you should work in class on from the 11th through the 27th. You'll have roughly 9 hours of class time in addition to any other time you spend outside to get this done. There's really no reason why you won't be able to complete this task in your teams. We'll have time to walk through three (3) mock Paper 2s, including debriefing and assessment, between the time I return and your IB exam. Failing to complete the Examination Review will leave you unprepared for your IB Global Politics HL exam on 21 & 22 May.

HL1: International Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We'll use the next two weeks to complete our first HL extension task; International Security in the DRC. Please refer to this document to guide you through your inquiry over the next two weeks while I am away. My best advice for you, and we'll flesh this out in class over the next few days, is for you to form study groups to read, listen, & watch as many of the sources in the bibliography during the next two weeks (the Gambino report as well as some of the reports from the Rift Valley Institute are pretty heavy lifting). We'll start work on developing research questions when I return, as well as to delve into some deeper theory and simulations on the nature of civil wars and identity-based conflict.

08 April 2014

IB Global Politics. One Village, Six People: peace building in post-genocide Rwanda #Rwanda20

The IB Glopo Year 1 folks spent the whole day today involved in the One Village, Six People simulation.  We spend about 13 weeks studying Peace and Conflict each year, focusing our attention on the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; from Kigali to Kivi, as a part of our inquiry into various aspects of power, legitimacy, sovereignty, interdependence, peace, conflict, violence, and nonviolence. We begin our inquiry with the Rwandan genocide; timed each year, of course, to coincide with the anniversary of the onset of the conflict that killed at least 800,000 men, women and children in 100 days. 

The One Village, Six People simulation is a six-party negotiation among Hutu and Tutsi villagers regarding competing land claims and local authority issues in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Students prepare by watching & debriefing the Ghosts of Rwanda documentary. We follow this by adopting one of six character roles for the simulation. Working in teams and individually, students define and articulate the interests, beliefs, emotions, and identities of their characters. In addition, students develop negotiation strategies and opening statements for their village meeting. The simulation itself places six individuals together; these folks must decide how to divide disputed territory in the village, the location and ownership of local cattle, as well as political leadership. Villagers include both Tutsis and Hutus; some victims of the genocide and some who have links to the genocidaires. Students then use this experience and the knowledge they have acquired about the Rwanda genocide to delve into a deeper study of the contemporary geopolitical challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Once the initial preparation was complete, the students and I spend time establishing group rules for discussion and the flow of the simulation. The simulation deals with topics that can be extremely sensitive; issues of sexually-absed violence, crimes against humanity, racism, and more. We were able to discuss, role play, and ultimately reach consensus on a set of practices and limits to how we would approach these topics during the simulation. The final pieces of the setup came in the form of sorting folks into their respective villages. Once this was complete, sudents began negotiating on the substantive issues of land ownership, collective livestock rights, and political power in their village. 

Out first reflection occurred after about an hour of negotiations; you can see the student responses here. Students were asked to consider their participation in the simulation from the perspective of their role in the simulation, as well as their perception of others' interests and actions during the negotiaonts. After a break for lunch and a second round of equally-demonstrative negotiations, we spent the final two hours debriefing on the broad range of student experiences in the simulation. Students also completed a written debriefing-responses can be seen here-that captured the totality of their experience in light of their actions and beliefs during the simulation.

While I have yet to seriously parse through the data above, my initial survey of student commentaries leave me very proud of everyone who participated today. Their level of maturity and willingness to take risks were coupled with their genuine desire to learn through the process of simulation; even if it was about the most difficult of topics, genocide. The pictures below capture some of the negotiation, outcomes, and other work and play form today's simulation. However, they really don't do these students' efforts justice-the quality and caliber of today's experience was second to none. 








07 April 2014

IB Global Politics: #Rwanda20

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. While there are a plethora of great stories that have come out in recent days, these stood out as some of the most compelling, informative, or provocative. Please take the opportunity to read, listen, and reflect on these, especially if you're revising for exams or preparing for tomorrow's simulation.

The Economist. (2014, April 05). To hell and back. Retrieved from

Fritz, M. (1994, May 13). Only human wreckage is left in village of Karubamba. Retrieved from

Gourevitch, P. (2014, April 4). Letter from the archive: The genocide in Rwanda. Retrieved from

Human Rights Watch. (1999, March). Leave none to tell the story: Genocide in Rwanda. Retrieved from

Inskeep, S. (2014, April 7). Where does Rwanda go from here? Retrieved from

Kagame, P. (2014, April 1). Rebooting Rwanda. Retrieved from

Warner, G. (2014, April 6). How abandonment in Rwandan genocide changed peacekeepers' role. Retrieved from

Warner, G. (2014, April 7). Ceremonies commemorate 20 years since Rwanda genocide. Retrieved from

Wolfe, L. (2014, April 04). How Rwandans cope with the horror of 1994. Retrieved from

Tomorrow, the Glopo Year 1 students will take part in a day long simulation on peace building in post-genocide Rwanda. One village, six people gives students the opportunity to explore and apply their understanding of the concepts power, legitimacy, sovereignty, interdependence, peace, non-violence, conflict, and violence as they take on various roles of victims and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. I'll be sure to post pictures and reflections, including our #Rwanda20 selfie, on the experience after we've completed our debriefing.

04 April 2014

IB Global Politics: The Week Ahead, 7-11 April

afternoon all,

The next week will mark the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. If you get the chance, please read an extraordinary interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Foreign Affairs as well as a great read in The Atlantic, "How Rwandans Cope with the Horror of 1994." We're also a whole 7 weeks away from the first IB Glopo exams (whoo hoo!).  Be sure to go out and support your colleagues in The Crucible this weekend; cast, break a leg! Here's our schedule for next week.

Glopo HL1
Glopo HL2

01 April 2014

IB Glopo HL2: Revision schedule for the IB Exam

As you all work diligently towards completing your study guides, please take note of the following schedule of mock IB assessments. We'll use the 90 minute period each Tuesday to write and the following class on Thursday to peer-mark and debrief on your responses. I know many of you have travel, exhibitions, and other activities that will keep you busy over the next six weeks, so please mark these assessment dates your calendars accordingly.

1 April: Mock Paper 1 (Sovereignty)

8 April: Mock Paper 1 (NGOs)

15 April: Mock Paper 2 (Power, sovereignty, and international relations)
  • To what extent is state sovereignty an outdated concept in the 21st century?
  • “Global politics is characterized more by cooperation than by conflict.” Discuss.
29 April: Mock Paper 2 (Human Rights)
  • “A national or regional approach to human rights enforcement is more effective than a global approach.” Discuss.
  • “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seeks to impose a Western perspective on human rights on non-Western societies.” To what extent do you agree with this criticism?
6 May: Mock Paper 2 (Development)
  • Evaluate the claim that development is impossible to measure.
  • “The biggest obstacle to development in developing countries is debt.” Discuss.
13 May: Mock Paper 2 (Peace and conflict)
  • “Truth and reconciliation commissions are the most effective way to foster peace.” To what extent do you agree with this claim?
  • Evaluate the claim that humanitarian intervention is a justifiable intrusion into the sovereignty of a state.
We'll spend our final Tuesday together (sniffle) working on last minute revisions. Please also plan to meet for coffee and breakfast in 101 on at 7.45am Thursday the 22nd before your Paper 2 exams.