A professor from Bradley University describes his experience with the International System simulation.
Why I participate in the International System simulation:
The simulation complements well the learning objectives in my course on diplomacy.
How ICONS connects with my course:
The course provides students with information on the theory and practice of diplomacy and international negotiation. The simulation obviously functions as the segment on the practice of international negotiation. I generally request a major European country for the simulation because I want to ensure that my students have plenty of opportunity to engage in the simulation on all the issues described in the scenario.
How my students prepare for the simulation:
The students write individual papers that first provide background information on the country they will be representing (to ensure they have an understanding of the perspective they should adopt during the simulation). The second half of the paper assignment requires the student to research the individual issue he/she will be negotiating. This portion of the paper also asks each student to set out goals and negotiating strategies. The individual papers are combined into a single (very long) paper that the students use as a reference and a guide during the negotiations. The paper is prepared after I have evaluated the individual papers and made suggestions for revisions.
Instructor and student roles during the simulation:
I feel my students enter the simulation well-prepared, so I play a minimal role once the simulation begins. I do provide the students with a thorough evaluation of their work at the end of each week of the simulation.
Learning objectives and assessment:
The students acquire a strong capability to turn policy goals into negotiating strategies. It is rewarding to watch them gain their footing during the first week of negotiations and (usually) take on a leadership role for the remainder of the negotiations. First, they are assessed via the three weekly evaluations I issue during the simulation. Following the simulation I ask the students to turn in a self-assessment in which they evaluate (in some detail) their own work during the simulation as well as the work of their teammates. In preparation for this assignment, I recommend that the students keep a sort of diary during the simulation so they can accurately and conveniently summarize their work. The final grade for this portion of the course is assigned after I have read these papers.
My advice for instructors preparing to participate in an ICONS simulation for the first time:
I think the old adage "prior preparation prevents poor performance" applies well here.
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