Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Fall 2012



Course Number

DIPL 6717

Course Description

A few years after the African decade of independence (the 1960s), conflicts and the accompanying forced population movements spread dramatically, and the peoples of Africa faced enormous political, security, and economic challenges. The euphoria of independence from colonial powers that began in 1957 with the independence of Ghana and Guinea immediately gave way to dictatorships, political oppression and instability, and endless conflicts. The early optimism, shared by almost all of the newly-liberated peoples, was replaced by uncertainty and even hopelessness. While it is true that there were a few countries that faired better, and the state of African states has become more encouraging recently, many still find themselves in a political, social, and economic quagmire from which they could not extricate themselves. Indeed, some were better-off some fifty years ago when compared to the present.

This course is an attempt at exploring the dynamics of conflicts and forced population movements, particularly refugees, in Africa. Included in the course are such issues as colonial legacy and the nature of the present African state, political and economic dependence on outside powers, politicized ethnicity, and foreign interventions. All of these have directly or indirectly contributed to the massive forced population movements of the present and the recent past. Such movements, on the whole, have had a more negative impact on the individual and on African inter-state relationships.

This course will primarily examine these challenges but will also interrogate whether or not such forced population movements have also contributed positively to the well-being of the host nation. To this end, the course examines possible interrelationships between conflicts and forced population movements, and their impact on the human condition in Africa. The instructor hopes that, by the end of the semester, each student will have developed an increased interest in the study of forced population movements, particularly refugee movements, and an awareness of the extent to which these unfortunate groups of human beings have the potential to negatively affect international peace and security. As students of Diplomacy and International Relations, you are expected to think in terms of policy issues that will contribute to the resolution of -- in the words of one scholar -- “a problem of our time.”

The course will conclude with student presentation of research findings. Each student will write and present a well-developed research paper on any topic related to forced population movements in Africa, either in a specific country (that is, at the national level), or group of countries (that is, at the group or regional level), or at the continental level. You may also conduct a comparative study of a conflict and refugee situation in Africa with a conflict and the accompanying refugee situation in other parts of the world. Prior approval of the topic by the instructor is required.