Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2023



Course Number

DIPL 4717

Course Description

A few years after the decade of independence in Africa, 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. While it is true that there were a few countries that faired better, and the state of African states has become more encouraging recently, some still find themselves in a political, social, and economic quagmire from which they could not extricate themselves. As a result, many of their citizens have left to seek refuge in other countries.

This course explores 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 which are directly or indirectly linked to the massive, forced population movements in the last fifty years. The course will also briefly interrogate whether 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 displacements, patterns of settlement in exile, and repatriations back to the refugee habitual place of residence.

Please note that this course is a numeracy-infused course. To this end, the course includes quantitative information on conflicts and their effect on refugee formations, including relationships between the types of conflicts (low-level conflict, high-level civil war, interstate wars, wars with third-party involvement) and the size of forcibly displaced persons.

In functional notation, this may be represented as:

size of refugee formations = f (types of wars)

In addition, settlement patterns may be investigated as:

settlement patterns= g (size of forcibly displaced)

Similarly for repatriations, as the case may be:

mode of repatriation = h {settlement patterns)

I stress, the course is numeracy infused; therefore, students are encouraged to think in terms of quantitative representation and explanation of refugee issues, if this approach is appropriate; indeed, I understand that some issues may not be amenable to quantification and are better explained in qualitative terms.

For the final term paper, each student will examine 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 refugee situation in Africa with a refugee situation in other parts of the world. The approach you wilt choose - qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods will depend on the questions raised and the availability of data. Whichever approach you use, you must aspire (and work hard) to write a well researched, rigorous, and meticulously prepared term paper. Prior approval of the topic by the instructor is required.

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 in Africa, particularly refugee movements, and an awareness of the extent to which these population groups 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 a "problem of our time" -- as Louise Holborn aptly described a few decades ago, and which is still true today.