Photo by Carol Guzy, (c) 1999, the Washington Post. Reprinted with permission

Issue: Spring 2005

The World According to Lamy

Was intervention of Kosovo justified? By giving students an adaptable framework, USC’s Steven Lamy teaches them to go beyond ideological labels to assess conflicts contextually.

Professor Steven Lamy has developed a tool for teaching IR that avoids loaded political terms like “conservative” and “liberal,” while encouraging students to analyze global affairs from multiple perspectives. He calls his approach the Worldviews/ DEPPP (Describe, Explain, Predict, Prescribe, Participate) model.

In Lamy’s framework, political agents fall into three groups: Maintainers are realist-pessimists who believe in the primacy of military and economic power. Reformers place greater emphasis on cooperation, alliance-building and diplomacy. Transformers believe in the force of ideas and, rather than reacting to short-term issues, strive for foundational change in societies, nations and the world community.

If they were playing a board game, maintainers would choose Risk. Reformers would choose Pictionary, working in teams but making sure to reshuffle the members frequently. Transformers might not even get around to unwrapping the game; they would be asking why so much of our social interaction is based on competition.

Students demonstrate they understand each worldview by accurately DEPPP-ing it (Lamy’s verb). For example, a student might be asked to “describe” a problem from a maintainer’s perspective; “explain” why it’s a problem; “predict” the outcome; “prescribe” an action to resolve it; and state how a country’s citizens should “participate” in the process.

In one class exercise, Lamy asks: Was humanitarian intervention an appropriate response to the ethnic conflict in Kosovo?

The chart below, paraphrased and edited for space, presents the typical response under each Worldview.

Maintainer Reformer Transformer
Describe Civil war is usually not a concern to outsiders. But the Kosovo conflict threatened to increase instability in Europe and affect trade. A quick, decisive intervention was warranted to stop the genocide of ethnic Albanians by the Serbian-controlled government. The only long-term solution
is to replace our system of power politics with one focused on human security.
Explain This is an area of strategic importance. Instability here could spill over into NATO member states. Democratic nations and organizations such as the UN, EU and NATO are morally obliged to intervene. Human rights come before states’ rights. “National interest” needs to be redefined to stop genocide wherever it happens.
Predict Military intervention will teach Milosevic and others that ethnic cleansing is not acceptable. Stability and peace can only occur through the cooperative efforts of states and regional organizations. The problems of ethnic cleansing and nationalism cannot be solved by a failed world order that tolerates injustice.
Prescribe The major powers will use both carrots and sticks to change the government of Yugoslavia and punish those guilty of genocide. The EU, the UN and non-governmental organizations will help the new Kosovo government to establish a free society. The problem is bigger than Kosovo. The global community must address issues of inequality and repression in every country.
Participate Citizens should trust their leaders to take care of the problem in Kosovo. Citizens should make their positions known to public officials, and participate indirectly through NGOs. We are all part of a global community and should not feel that we have to participate solely through our governments.