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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  INTRODUCTION Information technology is changing us. It’s bringing us closer together as a global community, and it has the potential to help us understand different nations and cultures by changing the way we teach and learn. Information technology makes “virtual visits” to distant places possible from a home or office. Email as well as Internet voice and video communication encourage on-going contact. Given the nature of today's technology, every person with access to a computer could be “a potential actor in world affairs” (Nossal 1998, 121). These opportunities for virtual visits to other countries provide us with connections to other nations, their citizens, and their values. This could lead to increased awareness about international relations and better understanding of people far beyond the borders of a nation state. Unfortunately, the study of international relations at many colleges and universities is really a study of foreign relations, an examination of world affairs from an ethnocentric perspective. Instructors often accept the values of their own political culture, then superimpose them on other nations. If another country doesn’t act according to those values, their leaders are labeled irrational. Such ethnocentric analysis excludes a basic element needed to understand international relations—empathy, the ability to participate in another’s values, interests, perceptions and feelings. We can use empirical skills, history, law, politics and economics; but if we lack empathy, we’ll never fully appreciate the subtle complexity of world affairs. We need to put ourselves in the position of other countries’ leaders, view the world from their perspective, and understand the problems and opportunities they face. This series of studies will demonstrate the usefulness of information technology, simulations, role playing, and internet conferencing in helping students understand the world more fully by developing their sense of empathy. The first takes students to a different time, when an international crisis almost led to a nuclear disaster,, and explore their emotions toward the Cold War.The second permits religious leaders in the Middle East to transcend space, national borders that prevent them from talking to each other, and share their ideas with students.The third aims at transcending students’ attitudes about the Middle East and examine their empathy toward nations in the region. These simulations and internet conferences have taken place and been studied on websites created by William Stover and Michael Ballen and sponsored by Santa Clara University. The Conflict Resolution Simulation site www.scu.edu/crs presents several existing simulations and templates for creating new ones that can be shared by instructors of international studies and political science. The Cuban Missile Crisis simulation, the first study presented in this paper, is found on the site (Stover, 2007) as well as a

Authors: Stover, William.
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INTRODUCTION
Information technology is changing us. It’s bringing us closer together as a global
community, and it has the potential to help us understand different nations and cultures
by changing the way we teach and learn.
Information technology makes “virtual visits” to distant places possible from a home or
office. Email as well as Internet voice and video communication encourage on-going
contact. Given the nature of today's technology, every person with access to a computer
could be “a potential actor in world affairs” (Nossal 1998, 121).
These opportunities for virtual visits to other countries provide us with connections to
other nations, their citizens, and their values. This could lead to increased awareness
about international relations and better understanding of people far beyond the borders of
a nation state.
Unfortunately, the study of international relations at many colleges and universities is
really a study of foreign relations, an examination of world affairs from an ethnocentric
perspective. Instructors often accept the values of their own political culture, then
superimpose them on other nations. If another country doesn’t act according to those
values, their leaders are labeled irrational.
Such ethnocentric analysis excludes a basic element needed to understand international
relations—empathy, the ability to participate in another’s values, interests, perceptions
and feelings. We can use empirical skills, history, law, politics and economics; but if we
lack empathy, we’ll never fully appreciate the subtle complexity of world affairs. We
need to put ourselves in the position of other countries’ leaders, view the world from their
perspective, and understand the problems and opportunities they face.
This series of studies will demonstrate the usefulness of information technology,
simulations, role playing, and internet conferencing in helping students understand the
world more fully by developing their sense of empathy.
The first takes students to a different time, when an international crisis almost led to a
nuclear disaster,, and explore their emotions toward the Cold War.
The second permits religious leaders in the Middle East to transcend space, national
borders that prevent them from talking to each other, and share their ideas with students.
The third aims at transcending students’ attitudes about the Middle East and examine
their empathy toward nations in the region.
These simulations and internet conferences have taken place and been studied on
websites created by William Stover and Michael Ballen and sponsored by Santa Clara
University. The Conflict Resolution Simulation site
presents several
existing simulations and templates for creating new ones that can be shared by instructors
of international studies and political science. The Cuban Missile Crisis simulation, the
first study presented in this paper, is found on the site (Stover, 2007) as well as a


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