How should the United States respond to genocide?
Seventh edition. June 2016.

Genocide is one of the tragic repeating features of history. It elicits feelings of horror and revulsion throughout the world. Yet both the international community and the United States have struggled to respond to this recurring problem. Confronting Genocide: Never Again? allows students to wrestle with the reasons why local actors, the international community, and the United States responded as they have to various cases of genocide over the past century. The unit is divided into two parts. Each part includes:

  • Student readings
  • Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
  • Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills and can be completed in one or more periods
  • Videos that feature leading experts

This unit also includes an Options Role Play as the key lesson and additional synthesis lessons that allow students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.

“This unit provides readable and interesting content that adds depth to most students’ understanding of genocide. I like having the students go through the Genocide Convention and then revisiting it throughout the unit. The role-playing activity helps my students engage in public policy, while recognizing the challenges, politics, and obstacles that may lead to a nation like the United States not taking more serious action, or choosing to avoid labeling something a genocide. Overall, my students are really engaged and take to heart the concept of ‘Never, Again?’” – Anonymous, HS History Teacher, MI

Part I: Defining Genocide

Part I traces the development of the United Nations and the Genocide Convention. There is one lesson aligned with Part I: The Genocide Convention: Five Case Studies.

Part II: Six Case Studies

Part II examines six case studies of genocides from the past one hundred years: The Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide, the Bosnian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, and the genocide in Sudan. There are two lessons aligned with Part II: 1) Genocide Reported in the Media, and 2) Survivors’ Voices: Experiences of Genocide.


The Genocide Convention: Five Case Studies

Students analyze the Genocide Convention and consider the challenges of defining "genocide." Students then apply the standards of the Genocide Convention to five historical cases: The Trail of Tears, Colonial Congo, the Ukrainian Famine, Tibet, and the Conquest of the Desert in Argentina.

Genocide Reported in the Media

By assessing New York Times coverage of Armenian and Darfur Genocides, students develop media literacy skills and think critically about the effect of the media on public opinion and policy decisions.

Survivors' Voices: Experiences of Genocide

Students watch video testimonies of genocide survivors and consider the benefits and limitations of using personal stories to learn about history.

The Options Role Play

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit, and it asks students to examine four distinct options for U.S. policy on genocide in preparation for writing their own option.

Joining the Debate on U.S. Policy

Synthesis Lesson: Armed with historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students articulate recommendations for U.S. policy and apply them to three hypothetical crises.

Building a Memorial

Synthesis Lesson: This hands-on and uplifting lesson challenges students to use diverse forms of expression to memorialize a genocide. Students explore the purpose of memorials and consider the idea of historical memory.

Back to top