Refugees: Issues and Action

6, 7, 8

Students research and report on a country from which refugees originate or countries that provided sanctuary for refugees in a time of crisis. The report may be used as advocacy to raise awareness and support for refugees. Students may design and carry out a service project that addresses the needs of refugees.

PrintThree or more 45-Minute Class Sessions including a student planned service project and a reflection activity

The learner will:

  • identify the populations of concern to UNHCR and discuss different reasons people seek asylum in the world.
  • recognize the causes and the effects of being a refugee.
  • research a specific country from which refugees originate or a country that hosts refugees.
  • create potential solutions to improve the refugee situation in the country.
  • select, plan and implement a class or individual sevice project.
  • reflect on their service.
  • Student copies of Handout One: Refugees and Resources Rubric
  • Student copies of Handouts: "Refugees and Resources Research Chart" and "Refugees and Resources: Analysis"
  • Copies of Handout: Fundraising Ideas
  • Internet access to the UNHCR website for research purposes.
  • Copies of a variety of newspapers

Allow the students to self-select a partner and provide each pair with a newspaper and highlighter pen. Ask the groups to scan the newspapers looking specifically for articles that are about refugeees, IDP's or other people in need.  Have them cut out the article and highlight the key points in the article.  Ask the pairs to exchange their articles with several other pairs, so that each pair of students reads/scans several articles. In a whole-class discusssion ask the students to compare/contrast the need(s) they addressed in their service project with the needs represented in the articles they read.



  1. Anticipatory Set

    Display a copy of the Populations of Concern map(See Bibliographical References).This map shows populations of concern to UNHCR (refugees, asylum seekers, internally dispaced people, returnees, stateless persons). Guide the learners in responding to the following questions:

    1.Which area has the largest population of people of concern? List at least four reasons that may cause this area to have such a large population of people of concern.

    2.Which area has the largest population of refugees?

    3.Which area has the largest population of IDPs?

    4.Which countries resettle the mostrefugees and where to do asylum seekers go?

  2. Show the students the list of countries:

  3. Have students form research groups of 3-4 and choose one country that hosts a large number of refugees to research. (They can access information about each of the countries by choosing their country on the drop-down list and then following the links.) They will research the refugee situation in that particular country, in addition to reasons why that country may have additional refugees because of political or geographical problems. Students will use the Handout Two: “Resources and Refugees: Research Chart.”

  4. After completing the research, students will synthesize the information they have researched by answering the questions in the Handout Three titled “Resources and Refugees: Analysis.”

  5. As a culminating activity, students will create a presentation either as an oral presentation (based on a written research paper, see Handout One: Refugees and Resources Rubric), a multi-media presentation or a poster based on their research and analysis.

  6. Day Two

  7. Students present their research information to the class. If posters were created they can be displayed in the classroom and students can do a class "walk about" to read each poster. If done as a report or multi-media presentation, allow each pair of students a few minutes to share their research.

  8. Day Three

  9. Remind the students of the discussion they had about enlightened self-interest, philanthropy and the common good.

  10. Ask a student volunteer to read the list of ideas for ways the students could help refugees or others in need from Lesson Two.

  11. Guide the students in coming to consensus on a class service plan or if the class chooses not to do a group service project, support those individual students who are motivated to do service, with ideas for creating their own project. (If needed, suggest additional service ideas using Handout Four: Fundraising and Service Project Ideas.)

  12. Have students plan and implement their response to the issue of people in need.

  13. After the service project is completed, have the students reflect on their efforts using the activity in the Reflection section of this lesson.


Assess students on their research (if a research paper was assigned,see Handout One: Research and Resources Rubric) and presentation, as well as participation in group discussions. A teacher-created vocabulary quiz including all the vocabulary in the unit may be developed.

Cross Curriculum 

Students research countries from which refugees originate and those that receive refugees. They plan and implement a service project that addresses issues faced by refugees or other people in need.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.14 Describe and give an example of needs not usually met by the government sector.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and describe civil society organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place."
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Map the locations of the emerging democracies and identify the relationship of civil society and government.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.