War Games: Comparative and IR Theory Simulations
23 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2013 Last revised: 12 Feb 2013
Theories of comparative politics and international relations are often presented in introductory courses to the subfields. Yet, with little to no prior knowledge of political science, undergraduate students struggle to grasp the theories in their abstract form. In-class role-playing and simulation activities can provide important context and real-world applications to political science theories. They also create other learning opportunities for students who have different learning styles. In this paper, I detail three activities that I have used in comparative and IR undergraduate courses: a comparative advantage simulation, a balance of power simulation, and a foreign policy advisement role-playing activity. In addition to reviewing the preparatory assignments and individual activity details, I explain the positive outcomes and learning objectives of all three. Finally, I address how I measure the effectiveness of such activities, as well as potential areas for improvement.
Keywords: simulations, role-playing, political science pedagogy
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