Lessons

Is There Really Religious Conflict?

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Tibetan exiles in India sit in front of a poster commemorating Jamphel Yeshi, who self-immolated in Delhi last year during a protest against Chinese policies in Tibet. Image by Jeffrey Bartholet. India, 2012.

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Black and white image of children in silhoutte from an IDP camp in Iraq.

Children in an IDP camp. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Iraq, July 2016

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Image by Uri Blau. Israel, 2015.

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Travelers examine a most wanted poster featuring Boko Haram suspects at an airport near the Nigerian capital. Image by Jason Motlagh. November 2015.

Travelers examine a most wanted poster featuring Boko Haram suspects at an airport near the Nigerian capital. Image by Jason Motlagh. November 2015.

Is It a Religious Conflict?

When thinking of the history of religious conflict many would immediately think of the Crusades of Medieval Times, however many would argue that those conflicts over a couple hundred years were not actually religious but more about resources, fueled by printed propaganda from Popes and Kings or fought as a defense from meddling foreigners. Maybe no conflict has ever been a religious conflict or maybe religion is the root of creating opponents.

We are going to debate current conflicts which are being described as religious. You are going to take one of four positions in a region of the world and you will research and present your side. You are trying to prove that your position is what originally caused the conflict, fuels the conflict or allows it to continue.

The four positions are:

 

  1. The conflict continues because of religion
  2. The conflict continues because of resources
  3. The conflict continues because of local, national or international media riling up the people
  4. The conflict continues because of reaction to another nation’s meddling or lack of meddling in that area’s affairs.

The regions of the world to choose for examination are:

Taliban in Afghanistan

Buddhists in Tibet

Jews and Muslims in Israel and Palestine

Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir

Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq

ISIS efforts in the Middle East

Muslims and Christians in Nigeria

Muslim Rohingya and Buddhists in Burma

What you signed up for: Block 2 link, Block 6 link, Block 8 link

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What you will accomplish and in what order:

All due October 27/28.

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  • First, you will do extensive research on your region’s conflict

  • Second, you will analyze your research through the lens of your position

  • Third, you will begin to draft a position paper arguing your position supported by your researched evidence.

  • Fourth, you will write a 3-4 page paper that includes in-text citations and a bibliography (including at least 6 sources, 2 of which are student databases) using MLA format. You will use 12 pt Times New Roman font.  

  • Fifth, you will prepare a visual presentation backed up with an oral argument explaining your position and facts to present to the class.

  • Sixth, you will continue to support your position using your research facts in a debate against the other three positions in front of the class.

 

Sample Outline

 

When you outline your paper you may think this way-

 

Introduction:

This should describe a bit about the actual conflict. Kind of like what you would read in an encyclopedia about it. Just get the facts out so that the reader understands the basics.

 

Then move into your position and how it is the most, not the only, but the most important factor that contributes to the cause, escalation or continuation of the conflict.

 

State your thesis statement which is the sentence that argues your position that will guide you throughout the paper

 

Body:

Explain the conflict in a neutral way just to give the history/background.

 

Explain one side of the conflict according to your position (media, foreign, religion or resources).

 

Explain the other side of the conflict according to your position. (media, foreign, religion or resources).

   

Conclusion:

Make sure you have completely convinced the reader of your thesis sentence.

 

Grading Guide

Name ___________________________________

 

Topic  Presented_____________________________________                                                        
Overall grade _______/25

 

“Is It Religious Conflict” Presentation

   

High Performing

Proficient

Developing

Visual presentation

-All slides provide evidence of the position being presented

-All slides are visual

-at least 10 slides are used

-a map is included of the area

-Slides are mostly relevant to the position being presented.

-Slides contain too much text.

-Less than 10 slides are used.

-map is included.

-Slides are not relevant to the position being presented.

-All slides are filled with text.

-Less than 10 slides are used.

-no map is included.

Verbal presentation

 

-nothing is read from slides unless it is something like a short quote

-point being argued is clear

-thorough evidence is provided to prove point

-Some slides are read from

-point being argued is somewhat clear

-Evidence is provided to prove point

-Slides are read from throughout the presentation.

-point being argued is not clear.

-Evidence is not provided to prove point.

mechanics

-Voice is loud and clear.

-Presentation lasts between 3-4 minutes

-Preparation and practice is evident

-body language is confident and energetic.

-Bibliography at the end lists all sources using proper MLA format.

-Voice is mostly clear.

-Presentation lasts between 3-4 minutes.

-Preparation and practice is somewhat evident.

-body language is lacking confidence and energy.

-Bibliography exists but not in proper MLA format.

-Voice is not loud and clear.

-Presentation is under or over 3-4 minutes.

-Preparation and practice is not evident.

-body language lacks confidence and energy.

-Bibliography does not exist.

 

“Is It Religious Conflict” Paper-

                        Overall Grade ____________/75

 

High Performance

Proficient

Developing

Mechanics

 

*proofread for grammatical errors

*3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font

*parenthetical in-text citations using proper MLA format

*alphabetized bibliography using proper MLA format

*Paragraph structure flows with topic sentences guiding new paragraphs.

* Some grammatical errors

*3-4 pages or less, typed, double-spaced, Times new Roman 12 point font

*some errors in citations

*Some errors in bibliography

*Organization of paragraphs needs to be clearer.

*Many grammatical errors

*less than 3-4 pages, spacing or margins are too large

*Citations are not done correctly.

*Bibliography is not done correctly.

*Lack of organization in paper.

Content/

Research

*At least six total sources used

*At least two student database used

*Thesis argues main point

*Thorough research acts as evidence to support the thesis

*Argument traces the history of the conflict and proves that your position is what continues the conflict

*Research is thorough, proving you understand the development of the conflict and its current situation.

*At least six total sources used

*At least one student based used

*Thesis argues main point

*Research somewhat supports thesis.

*Argument somewhat traces the history of the conflict and proves that your position is what continues the conflict.

*Research is mostly thorough, proving you understand the development of the conflict and its current situation.

*Does not use at least 6 total sources

*Does not use a student database

*Thesis does not exist

*Little research done

*Argument does not trace the history of the conflict and  does not prove that your position is what continues the conflict

*Research does not support an argument nor proves you understand the development of the issue.

Analysis

*Does not use “I”

*Position analysis argued clearly

*Position analysis is relevant to the thesis and the research.

*Does not use “I”

*Position analysis is argued somewhat clearly.

*Position analysis strays from the main argument

*”I” is used

*Position analysis is lacking

*Position analysis is not relevant to the main argument.

 

Educator Notes: 

This lesson challenges students to take a position related to what is causing or fueling conflicts that could be labeled religious. Students may choose or be given a position or conflict. They will need to create an argumentative research paper and presentation convincing the class that their factor contributes more to the conflict than the others. I use this lesson as a culminating activity at the end of my world religion unit. For 5 weeks students have been studying how religions are depicted in the media and have been involved in different activities discovering the basic doctrine of the world's major faiths.

A connection to the Pulitzer Center makes this experience come alive. We have spoken through Skype to Emily Feldman, Greg Constantine, Scott Anderson and Jeff Bartholet. In a 30-40 minute Skype conversation the journalist introduces his or her insight into our topic and then fields student questions related to the research and analysis they are working on. It is super simple to set up with the Pulitzer Center's help (you can start by e-mailing education@pulitzercenter.org) and creates a great learning experience for the students to actually speak to the people who cover these stories.

I give students about three weeks on this project and we do a lot of the research during class because these issues are complicated. Sometimes we have to shift the argument from "This conflict continues..." to "This conflict began because of..." On presentation day I give a very brief introduction into the conflict and then the students have 3-4 minutes to present their argument. Once all four positions are heard the group enters into a debate and their classmates may ask questions or challenge positions. The class then votes as to which factor they believe is contributing the most to each of the conflicts. I keep track of this and then at the end of the presentations we have a whole class discussion looking at whether there really is religious conflict. These are the two main guiding questions I use in the final class discussion: To what degree are “religious” conflicts actually religious? Based on what you believe continue conflicts, what is the best way to attempt peace negotiations? This discussion could also be held online outside of class.

I use this chart to document how kids signed up

 

Conflict

Religion

Resources

Media

Other Nations

Taliban in Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

Buddhists in Tibet in conflict with China

 

 

 

 

Jews and Muslims in Israel and Palestine

 

 

 

 

Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir

 

 

 

 

 

Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq

 

 

 

 

ISIS efforts in the Middle East

 

 

 

 

Muslims and Christians in Nigeria

 

 

 

 

Muslim Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar

 

 

 

 

 

 

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