Battlestar Galactica and International Relations: the Simulation

The latest in high-level confirmation that simulations are an important tool in learning: the German government is running a five day simulation (including preparation and reflection) of Battlestar Galactica, the SyFy show that examined human behavior and decisions following the devastation of society by the robots they had themselves created.  The show is often cited for its relevance to political science and international relations, and its always nice to be reminded that the use of simulations and games for learning is a well-worn and highly accepted tradition outside the college classroom.

3 Replies to “Battlestar Galactica and International Relations: the Simulation”

  1. Here’s a question from someone who does not watch cable TV — if I was to research the applicability of this show to a course I will be teaching in the fall, should I begin with episode 1 of the SyFy version and watch all episodes? I know Netflix dropped the show from its catalog; my only option is probably to try to convince my university’s library to order it.

    1. Craymondsalve,

      First, I would love to take that course. Are you interested in using the Routledge Press BSG book in the Popular Culture and World Politics collection?

      As a practitioner of IR and an avid fan of the show, I sincerely suggest that you drop the idea of watching all the episodes (over 75 hours of playtime). I would preface with the “mini-series” over two classes (it is about 3.3 hours long). It touches on decision making and socially relevant crisis situations. Episodes 1,2 and 3 from Season one are good to follow that progression..and then I would conclude that with episodes 12 and 13 of the same season and they touch lightly on terrorism and “national betrayal”. Season 3, episodes 1-5 are straight narratives on the US-Afhgan experience (surprisingly more relevant today than the original air date) and can be understood as a stand alone segment relatively removed from the rest of the series. There is a lot of unnecessary character development and back stories on some of the seasons in relation to an IR course. Also, Season 2, episodes 11 and 12 touch lightly on military coup / escalation of conflict and termination.

      Hope that helps and I’m certain the school library should have it on hand for a multitude of reasons. I know mine did (which is how I watched it).


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