Lesson Plans

Libya After Liberation

Bismark Dabgaba, 23, has lived in Libya for 22 years. He fled with his father from fighting in Sierra Leone when he was one year old. War has again forced him to leave his home. Now he has to leave Libya with no money, no documentation, nowhere to go. Image by Ayman Oghanna. Libya, 2011.

This lesson is written as a series of notes for facilitators.

Educator Notes: 

This lesson is designed for an early high school classroom on a 100-minute block schedule with access to computers. As alternatives, teachers may use the first day of class for the warm-up activity and reading of the article. For homework, assign the position paper to individual students and have the debate the second day of class.


Students will debate what policy Italy should implement when dealing with the migrants from Libya after their role in overthrowing Gaddafi.

Warm-up Activity:

Provide the following scenario to students:

America had been enemies with the country Libya for several decades but recently changed their policy and became trading partners and supported the oppressive dictatorial regime of the nation for approximately four years until some citizens in Libya started to protest against the leader. America decided then to start supporting the people against their corrupt leader and fought a war to help the people. The US was successful in this war; however, the nation was left war-torn and divided with little hope for a quick road to political and economic stability. To escape this situation many people of Libya started to try to migrate to America. As a citizen of America, what would you advise our government to do? Do we accept the migrants of this nation? Deny entry to our nation? Allow only a few?

As a class, discuss different views on what to do in this scenario. Discuss the impact of their decision on both the people of Libya and the people of America.

Introducing Lesson:

Italy had been enemies with Gaddafi but had recently signed a “friendship treaty” with his government. Once the Arab Spring reached Libya, Italy participated in NATO’s actions to depose Gaddafi. Part of Italy’s motivation in making friends with Gaddafi was to try to keep Libyan migrants out of their nation. Now that the war is over, Gaddafi is gone and turmoil has resulted in Libya’s politics and economy, more migrants are trying to gain access to Italy’s shores. This lesson will ask students what a nation’s should policy should be in this instance and they will be asked to analyze the impact of the policy on Italians and Libyans.


Based on students views from the warm up activity, assign them a position in the Libya/Italy current situation. Groups will vary from opening borders, closing borders or somewhere in-between.

Once the students are in these groups, ask all to read the article "Libya: After Liberation, Nowhere to Run"

While reading, students should be taking notes that they will use to create an argument in support of their position. After students have finished the articles, they should work in their groups to create a position paper that will serve as an opening statement in a classroom debate. The topic is, "What policy should Italy adopt when dealing with the Libyan migrants?"

In the statements, students should present the policy Italy should pursue, support that position with facts from the article and address the impact on both Italy and Libya and defend why those effects are fair.

Have students read their opening statements and then continue into a discussion of the policies.


Once the debate has run its course, have students discuss the merits and faults in each of the policies. Discuss the difficulty in creating policy that is fair to all those impacted. Ask students if their position that was initially created from the fake scenario changed after listening to the arguments from the current event scenario.

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