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War in A Warming World: Climate Change and the Civil War in Syria


As an Undergraduate teacher in the Social Sciences or Environmental Studies, you can use this lesson plan to teach your students about how human induced global warming can have significant impacts on food and water security and could be a factor contributing to mass human migrations, lead to political instability, and even war.

This lesson plan examines how the most severe drought recorded (instrumentally) in Syria’s history from 2007-2010 was probably caused due to anthropogenically forced climate change. The drought is thought to have contributed to large scale human migration from farmlands to urban areas and may have been a significant factor in the political unrest and civil war in Syria.

This lesson plan provides teaching resources to introduce how climate change is stressing natural resources in different parts of the world and can lead to political instability, conflict and possibly even state collapse. It focuses on understanding whether the drought in Syria and mass human migrations played a role in the civil war there.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to teach aspects of Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, Natural Resource Management, Risk Assessment, Geopolitics and Security in your Social Sciences or Environmental Studies classrooms.

Learning Outcome

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  1. Learn about climate change and security of a country
  2. Understand the role of climate change in altering weather of a region
  3. Understand how climate change can cause droughts
  4. Discuss climate change and how it is affecting food security and causing potential mass human migrations
  5. Discuss whether climate change can lead to civil war

Mapped Sustainable Development Goal(s), apart from 4 and 13


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