A Brexit game update

1000During the second half of this summer I wrote about running a Brexit game, and off the back of that I now have two great partners – Matthew LeRiche (Memorial) and Chris Huggins (Keele) – with whom I’m now doing just that un the run up to Christmas.

As I promised, I’m going to keep some postings going as we proceed, since it’s a new thing for me (and the others, for that matter) and it’s useful to share the experience now.

Chris actually came in on the back of the previous post, so now we have three groups of about 15-20 students taking part. Matthew’s students are taking the roles of the UK and the European Parliament, while mine and Chris are sharing duties, with mixed teams for Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Ireland, plus Keele-only teams for Hungary and the Netherlands, and a Surrey-only team for the European Council (who will chair). A bit complex, in short.

This complexity is a function of how we came together as a group, so first observation would be that this is much easier to sort out if you have your partner list fixed at the start. We’ve made a virtue of things, by having Memorial students take the roles that are most separate, so that they are less likely to come from the same place as the EU groups.

Yesterday, I ran my frist proper session with my students, getting them to negotiate (internally) briefs for the rest of the game. This was a good opportunity to get them thinking more systematically about what they’re trying to do (and how) and ties in with my need to get them focused on negotiating skills. Both Matthew and Chris have students who are coming to this from a EU politics perspective, so I’m hoping that we’ll get some insights as to whether it’s process or content that matters more in such discussions.

In a couple of weeks, the UK will submit its notification to leave, with any claims it wants to make and then the other groups will respond, building up to a final session in early December here at Surrey, when we plan to get almost everyone in the same room.

At the moment, our structure seems to be working: aside from the joint sessions, we’re leaving it to each of us to do anything more we want with our own students, as per our institutional and individual requirements. Communications between the students has been limited so far, although that’s starting to change in the past week.

The big challenge is going to be when the groups have to interact, and we’ll see much more clearly how that works. My guess is that someone is going to find that their assumptions were well off the mark, at which point we’ll have a nice learning moment. And you’ll have another post on this.