Designing a New Simulation of Ethnic Conflict: Lessons Learned from the Trenches

15 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013


For the fall semester 2010, the Politics of Ethnic Conflict course I taught used the Dacia Simulation, a simulation of ethnic conflict resolution created by Thomas Ambrosio of North Dakota State University. The student response was excellent in both the student evaluations after the course and in comments by students in debriefings. However, one of the issues that I discovered is that students needed, or wanted, additional information such as the geographic location of waterways, significant bodies of water, and other geographic formations that were not included in the Dacia Simulation. In preparing for a subsequent offering in the fall semester 2013, I decided that a new simulation was necessary that would incorporate the strategic geographic features and other modifications beyond those included in Dacia. The new simulation, “Bokhtikkari Nationalism in Assuwa: A Simulation of Conflict Resolution in an Ethnically Divided Society,” incorporates secessionist and irredentist ethnic conflict. The most important goal of the new simulation is for students to create a stable environment and a peaceful resolution of that conflict. The simulation was based on an actual conflict. However, the details were hidden behind a fictional veil to encourage students to act within the boundaries of the simulation and not rely on their understanding of the real world scenario. This paper addresses the design process and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the simulation, including a student evaluation, of the effectiveness of the simulation.

Keywords: Ethnic Conflict, Simulation, Active Learning, Teaching and Learning, APSA

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Joseph W., Designing a New Simulation of Ethnic Conflict: Lessons Learned from the Trenches. APSA 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Joseph W. Roberts (Contact Author)

Roger Williams University ( email )

Department of Politics and International Relations
1 Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809
United States
401-254-3784 (Phone)

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