The following group work is a successfully approved learning module for a start-up work on the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva, 1951).
You can find the pdf-version of the learning module on the left side of the website.
* Becoming acquainted with the central statutes of the UN Refugee Convention
* Conducting discussions based on the method of diamond-ranking
* Examining and critically reflecting on the Convention's structure and content
Time: approx. two sessions of 45 minutes each. Have the students form small groups with four to six members each. Each group should be provided with a flip chart, nine index cards, scissors, and different coloured pens.
Each student receives a short introductory text about the Convention as well as a work sheet containing a random selection of eleven Articles included in the Convention. The Articles should not be in the original order and should not be numbered. From the Articles on the work sheet, each group of students should determine which nine out of the eleven they deem most important and should agree which of them are of marginal importance and can be eliminated. Subsequently, the group should present the nine remaining Articles in a diamond-shaped diagram: The paramount Article is placed at the top, two less but equally important Articles are placed underneath it in the second row, three Articles feature in the middle row, two minor statements in the fourth row, and the least important Article is at the bottom (more information in the PDF-document on the left).
This exercise consists of three stages:
First stage: approx. 10 minutes. Each student should spend this time reading the introductory text as well as the work sheet (see the PDF-document).
Second stage: approx. 45 minutes. After completing their individual readings, the students should discuss the Articles and the importance of their claims with their fellow group members.
They are asked to rank the eleven Articles presented at random on the work sheet from “not important” to “very important”. At the same time, they should decide which paragraphs are least important and eliminate them. After this collective decision making process, the groups will render their respective rankings of the Convention's Articles into a diamond-ranking model. Whilst it is important that the students adhere to the diamond shape of the diagram, everything else can be left entirely to their imagination.
Third stage: approx. 35 minutes. The groups will present their results to each other and explain their particular “diamond”. Each group will appoint a presenter. It is important that he or she elaborates on the group's decision-making process in particular and on the issues that arose along the way. At the end of the presentations, some time should be reserved for comparing and contrasting the groups' findings and for reflecting on them together.
See the prepared text about the Convention and the work sheets for the students in the pdf-version.