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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $28.84
  • December 2018
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-67377-7
  • 155 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

The Needs of Others

Human Rights, International Organizations, and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994

Reacting to the Past

First Edition


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Kelly McFall (Author, Newman University)


Reacting to the Past is an award-winning series of immersive role-playing games that actively engage students in their own learning.

Students assume the roles of historical characters to practice critical thinking, primary source analysis, and both written and spoken argument. Reacting games are flexible enough to be used across the curriculum, from first-year general education classes and discussion sections of lecture classes to capstone experiences and honors programs.


The Needs of Others is set in the UN in 1994, where diplomats learn of violence in Rwanda. Representing UN ambassadors, human rights organizations, journalists, and public opinion leaders, students wrestle with difficult questions based on an unsteady trickle of information: Should the UN peacekeeping mission be withdrawn or strengthened? Is the fighting in Rwanda a civil war, or something else? Does the UN have an obligation to intervene?

Makes history come alive

Students participate in active learning when they are part of the game. Each student receives a game book, outlining the historical context, game premise, central debates, rules, and readings. Students then assume roles in a game of strategy they will want to win. They must adhere to the worldview of their historical figure, but are not limited by a script. They must express their ideas compellingly in speeches, presentations, and more.

Games made easy

With clear organization and helpful instructor resources, playing the game is easy. Each Norton-original game book has a clear five-part structure. This organization brings a much-demanded consistency to the series and makes it easy for instructors to teach multiple titles in succession. The Gamemaster’s Materials required to run each game are similarly helpful and well-organized.

A proven approach, supported by a national network

When playing Reacting to the Past games students develop history skills like primary source analysis, public speaking, writing and argument, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership. For this innovative approach, the series has been supported by the Teagle Foundation and the US Department of Education. The series was developed at Barnard College. The Reacting Consortium is a national network of enthusiastic instructors who connect through regular conferences and on social media.