A Time for Simulations

We’re entering the last few weeks of the term here; for me, that means simulation time in both of my classes.  I’m using the International Relations in Action simulation (previously blogged about here) in my Introduction to International Politics class for the first time, instead of Statecraft as I’ve done the past 3 years. In my Human Rights class, I’m using Krain and Lantis’ Global Problems Summit for the fourth time. One thing that has changed over the past few years is that I’ve shifted all multi-day simulations to the end of the semester. I find that I like this timing for a few different reasons.

First, it’s that time of the term when everyone – students and faculty – are hitting a wall and feeling burnt out. I find that the simulation re-energizes all of us. It gets students engaged (or re-engaged), gets them moving and talking to each other, and otherwise injects new life into the classroom. Depending on the nature of the simulation, it minimizes or, at least, changes the day-to-day course preparation I have to do.

Second, it typically requires less daily reading for the students. By the end of the term, semester papers and exams are looming. I’ve found that students appreciate the reduced reading load at this time of the semester.  It also cuts out the frustration if students aren’t doing the reading.

And finally, I have tried to find and use simulations that create opportunities for connecting material from the entire course. Running a multi-day simulation at the end of the course serves as a useful review of course material and as a sort of a capstone for the course.

I still do smaller activities throughout the term, but now I reserve multi-day simulations for the end of the term.