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Lesson Plan #: AELP-WRH0206
Submitted by: Marc Major and Kari Nelson
Email: marcmajor@yahoo.com
School/University/Affiliation: Lloyde High School, Los Angeles, CA Date: October 14, 2000

Grade Level:10, 11, 12, Higher Education


  • Social Studies/World History

Duration: Five 55-minute sessions Description: This five-day simulation focuses on the Yugoslavian civil war of the 1990’s. The activity is set in early 1991, when international involvement in Yugoslav politics was minimal. Students will learn the geography and history of the Balkans, assume a role in the conflict, and make decisions which may maintain peace or begin a war. The details of this activity reflect actual facts.


  • To increase students’ knowledge of world history.
  • To involve students in an interactive simulation analyzing historical events.
  • For students to synthesize their own solutions and act on them.
  • Objectives: Students will be able to:

  • Locate general geographic features within the Balkans (in the pre-simulation mapping phase).
  • Recall demographic and historical facts about the Balkans and the United Nations (during the simulation).
  • Use historical facts to support the different perspectives of the combatants in the Balkans conflict (during the simulation).
  • Formulate creative strategies for solving the Balkans conflict (during the simulation).
  • Relate the stress factors underlying the Balkans conflict to their own lives (in the post-simulation discussion phase).
  • Materials:

    • world atlas (one per student)
    • two 6-sided dice
    • overhead projector and overhead pens
    • the following pages (one instructor overhead & one per student):
    • blank Balkans map (see Procedure for details)
    • Balkans Data Sheet (Appendix B)
    • Yugoslav Situation Summary (Appendix C)
    • Quality of Life Points (Appendix D) (Appendix D1 for instructor, D2 for students & overhead)
  • the following pages, pre-tailored to each of the four groups (one copy of the appropriate version to each group member):
  • Appendices in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.
  • Procedure:
    As the simulation begins, students representing one of three different factions within Yugoslavia will meet with others in their region to determine mutual concerns and demands. Each participant must balance individual and group interests in this initial negotiation process. These regional groups will then send diplomatic representatives to the other regions to discuss conflicts and possible compromises. A fourth group of students representing the United Nations will determine whether to impose sanctions or award aid to any region. At the end of each round, the instructor will calculate how the various groups’ decisions have affected each region’s quality of life. The region with the most Quality of Life (QOL) points at the end of the game wins. The activity requires five class hours to complete: two hours of advance reading and map work, two hours of the simulation proper, and one hour of follow-up discussion.

    Sample Timeframe:

    Day One:
    – Spend 2 to 3 minutes introducing the activity.
    – Distribute a world atlas, Balkans map, and Balkans Data Sheet (Appendix B) to each student. [The authors regret that, due to copyright restrictions, we could not distribute our map over the Internet; however, any blank map of Europe should suffice.]
    – Ask students to find in their atlases and draw on their own maps:
    1. the six regions of Yugoslavia outlined on the blank map
    2. the three main geographic features listed on the Balkans Data Sheet–the Dinaric Alps, the Romanian Plain, and the Dalmatian Coast
    – When half the class has finished, ask volunteers to fill in their findings on the overhead map, so other students can finish and check their work.
    – On a European map in the atlas, point out the position of the former Yugoslavia relative to Moscow, Istanbul, and Rome–centers of the Eastern Orthodox, Islamic, and Roman Catholic religions which play a central role in dividing the Balkans to this day.
    – Spend any remaining time drilling students on the Balkans Data Sheet, focusing particularly on the table at the bottom. Ask students to note on their maps the majority nationality in each region. (Note that Tito recorded Muslims as a “nationality” in a deliberate effort to maintain a balance of political power).

    Day Two:
    – Distribute the Yugoslav Situation Summary/QOL Points sheets (Appendices C & D), and read aloud and dissect each paragraph.
    – Crucial knowledge about the Balkans includes:
    1. the common language and ancestry
    2. the religious differences
    3. the differences in nationality
    4. the different forms of government desired
    5. the historical bases of the Croat-Serb enmity
    – Inform the students that, for the purposes of the game, they will be divided into only four groups, representing Serbia (including Macedonia and Montenegro), Croatia (including Slovenia), Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
    – Read the Student Instructions to the class.
    – Explain the Quality of Life Points scoring system, whereby groups try to augment their starting scores by various actions detailed under QOL Points.

    Day Three:
    – As a class, review the Yugoslav Situation Summary.
    – Choose 3 to 5 students to form the UNSC, and then break the remainder of the class into three equal-sized parts–the regional groups.
    – Distribute the appropriate Student Instructions/Fact Sheet to each student. Ask one person in each group to read the information aloud (quietly) to the group.
    – Distribute to each student an Individual Role appropriate to her group. Each student should read hers in secret and, based on these roles, write on her Fact Sheet 2 to 3 personal goals she wants to achieve during discussions within the regional group.
    – Each group should then produce 3 to 5 group goals its members want to achieve during negotiations with the other regions. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for group members to reach some consensus. Each student should write the group’s final goals in the space provided on his Fact Sheet.
    – As a class, review the Quality of Life Points scoring system, and list each group’s starting score on the board.
    – Announce that the first round of negotiations is about to begin. Each round should include 5 to 7 minutes of negotiation, after which everyone must return to her region and–after 3 minutes of discussion–make public press releases, hear any UNSC decisions, and watch the instructor tally the Quality of Life points.
    – Instructor tips:
    1. Any treaty or other agreement between two regions should be written out and signed by a representative of both parties.
    2. The UNSC is typically neglected during the initial round, so urge the regional groups to send a representative to the UNSC as early as possible.
    3. Emphasizing the scores might prompt dramatic action if none has occurred after two or three rounds.
    – Begin Round 1.
    – When the first round of negotiations seems to be winding down, ask students to return to their regional groups and prepare their announcements.
    – When each group has read its press release to the class and the UNSC has announced its decisions, tally the QOL Points (q.v.) and start the next round.
    – Don’t forget to record the day’s final scores for continuation the next day.

    Day Four:
    – Reassemble the students into their groups and begin the next round.
    – In the event of war or a complete impasse (or if the students seem tired of negotiations), the final scores should be tallied and the game brought to a close.
    – Follow-up discussion can be in many forms. Suggested questions include:
    1. What were the main causes of conflict in the simulation?
    2. How did group and individual goals contrast? Did they conflict?
    3. What constitutes effective diplomacy? Compromise? Bellicosity?
    4. How might the simulation have differed from real life in Yugoslavia?
    5. How were events in the simulation similar to those in students’ lives?

    Day Five:
    – To update students about the current situation in the Balkans, we suggest these sources:
    1. Various current articles available on the Internet or from one organization that specializes in global issues (ACCESS: Information on World Issues; tel. (202) 783-4767)
    2. Useful articles from the time of this simulation’s creation may be found in:
    Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 12, 13 February 1994, pp. A-14, G-1
    Europe; no. 337
    History Today; vol. 44, no. 3
    New Statesman Society; vol. 6, no. 249
    USA Today; 5 December 1994, p. A-11
    Washington Post; 1 December 1994, p. A-17

    Assessment: Observe students’ participation throughout the simulation. Students can be asked to share and write about their reactions to the simulation. Possible follow-ups include a test or a research project on Balkan history and future.

    Special Comments: An article about this simulation, Conflict in the Balkans: A Classroom Simulation, was published in the Sept/Oct 1995 issue of Social Studies. A brief citation of this article can be found in the ERIC Database (EJ519010).