I strongly believe in the pedagogical value of in-class simulations for teaching international relations and comparative politics. Over the course of the past five years, I have designed a number of simulations that can be used for instruction in the college classroom. Below is a brief description of the two simulations that I personally like the most.


Simulation 1: Model UN Simulation and Crisis Bargaining

Central Premise: the Secretary General of the United Nations has notified the Security Council of grave human rights violations in one member state of the UN. The international community has to decide on whether/how to respond.

Learning goals for students: understand (1) the functioning of the UN system, (2)  the basic tools at the UN’s disposal for the maintenance of international peace and security, (3) the basic foreign policy orientations of the member states in the Security Council.


Simulation 2: Constitutional Convention

Central Premise: a country just overthrew an authoritarian leader. The four major ethnic groups of the country convene in the capital in order to write a new democratic constitution.

Learning goals for students: understand the advantages and disadvantages of various constitutional elements such as federalism/unitarism, presidentialism/parliamentarism and the electoral system.

The background materials for this simulation has been published in Social Studies Research and Practice. A link to the article can be found here. If you are interested in the powerpoint-version of the materials, please send me an email. This simulation does not only work in the college classroom. My friend and colleague Sarah Fisher has used this activity successfully when working with Indian middle school students.

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