International Relations Students Simulate Response to Calamitous Global Event
November 18, 2019
What might happen if melting subarctic ice released a fast-spreading pathogen deadly to humans? How might actors in the international realm respond to this unprecedented, catastrophic event? Students in Professor Andrew Schlewitz’s Introduction to International Relations class used a role play game to learn about international cooperation and collective action in the face of global problems.
The class used a two-player game, Hive, in which each side has bugs of varying capabilities, with the goal of surrounding the opponent’s Queen Bee. Professor Schlewitz played one side, the pathogen, and students played the other side, the international community. The students had to learn the game rules on the fly and also to decide on decision-making procedures. They eventually handed over decision-making authority to one member of their group who had prior experience in role-playing games. By conferring with the others on every move, their leader led them to a victory over the pathogen.
Professor Schlewitz engaged the students in a discussion analyzing the game in terms of the concepts and theories about international cooperation they have been learning this semester. These included the role of international institutions, tensions between centralized authority and collective decision-making, and the difficulty of cooperation in a world of states that each has its own interests.
An expert in Latin American Politics, Professor Schlewitz also regularly teaches a semester-long simulation course, LAS 320 Model O.A.S. The course culminates with the students traveling to Washington, DC, to represent a Latin American country at the Model Organization of American States annual conference.