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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  learning (Parente 1995). Political scientists have used simulations in areas as diverse as comparative politics (Kaarbo and Lantis 1997; Shellman 2001; Switky 2004), electoral campaigning (Koch 1991; Kathlene and Choate 1999), local, state, and national American politics (Mcquaid 1992), legislative behavior (Ciciotta-Rubery and Levy 2000), domestic and international law (Pacelle 1989; Jefferson 1999; Baker 1994), budget making (Higgins 1988), international relations (Newmann and Twig 2000; Dougherty 2003; Ambrosio 2004), public policy making (Grummel 2003) and national security (Kanner 2004). Some simulations are elegantly simple such as “The Isle of Ted” (Thomas 2002) and “Urban Revitalization” (Godek 1990). These can be used effectively in one or two class sessions with minimal preparation. Others are elaborately complex in their concept and execution. Examples are “The International Communication and Negotiation Simulations (ICON)” where students represent a nation’s diplomatic delegation and negotiate with other groups from countries all over the world (Vavrina 1995); and “The Iron Triangle Simulation” where three separate classes experience the same simulation on policy making at the same time (Endersby and Webber 1995). Whether simple or complex, all of these simulations share a common characteristic—the need for students to play a role, either as a specific character from a known institution or a general actor from an undisclosed or fictional one. (Stoil and Lester 1979). Role playing links simulations with empathy, part of a continuum in which increasing levels of role attainment correspond to greater experience of the values, feelings and perceptions of another. On one end of the continuum, a condition of role absence, students may be completely unaware of a role and have no empathetic feelings toward the character they will be asked to play. Presented with the need to join the simulation, however, they move to a state of role awareness. They accept the challenge to act in the learning process (Poplin and Weeves 1992; Smith and Boyer 1996), beginning to consider new and alternative ways to view a political situation or problem. The next point on the continuum, role acquisition requires students to acquaint themselves with the role they will play, learning more about the character or institution they will represent. Finally, role adoption occurs when students assume the characters they are simulating, experiencing their values, feelings and perceptions. Simulation directors must guide students along this continuum, helping them achieve their highest possible level of role adoption for the simulation to be successful. As each participant more accurately reflects a role and acts in character, all students in the simulation benefit, and the simulation better portrays reality. The literature of political science simulations suggests several practical steps to accomplish this move toward role adoption and a greater sense of empathy. First, focusing the simulation on a topic considered important by the broader community and students themselves is a way to generate interest and excitement in the simulation, motivating students to participate more actively. For example, Newmann and Twigg (2000) use the Indian and Pakistani dispute over Kashmir where terrorism and the threat of nuclear weapons have been depicted in the media as a looming crisis. Similarly,

Authors: Stover, William.
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learning (Parente 1995). Political scientists have used simulations in areas as diverse as
comparative politics (Kaarbo and Lantis 1997; Shellman 2001; Switky 2004), electoral
campaigning (Koch 1991; Kathlene and Choate 1999), local, state, and national
American politics (Mcquaid 1992), legislative behavior (Ciciotta-Rubery and Levy
2000), domestic and international law (Pacelle 1989; Jefferson 1999; Baker 1994),
budget making (Higgins 1988), international relations (Newmann and Twig 2000;
Dougherty 2003; Ambrosio 2004), public policy making (Grummel 2003) and national
security (Kanner 2004).

Some simulations are elegantly simple such as “The Isle of Ted” (Thomas 2002) and
“Urban Revitalization” (Godek 1990). These can be used effectively in one or two class
sessions with minimal preparation. Others are elaborately complex in their concept and
execution. Examples are “The International Communication and Negotiation Simulations
(ICON)” where students represent a nation’s diplomatic delegation and negotiate with
other groups from countries all over the world (Vavrina 1995); and “The Iron Triangle
Simulation” where three separate classes experience the same simulation on policy
making at the same time (Endersby and Webber 1995).

Whether simple or complex, all of these simulations share a common characteristic—the
need for students to play a role, either as a specific character from a known institution or
a general actor from an undisclosed or fictional one. (Stoil and Lester 1979). Role
playing links simulations with empathy, part of a continuum in which increasing levels of
role attainment correspond to greater experience of the values, feelings and perceptions
of another.

On one end of the continuum, a condition of role absence, students may be completely
unaware of a role and have no empathetic feelings toward the character they will be
asked to play. Presented with the need to join the simulation, however, they move to a
state of role awareness. They accept the challenge to act in the learning process (Poplin
and Weeves 1992; Smith and Boyer 1996), beginning to consider new and alternative
ways to view a political situation or problem. The next point on the continuum, role
acquisition
requires students to acquaint themselves with the role they will play, learning
more about the character or institution they will represent. Finally, role adoption occurs
when students assume the characters they are simulating, experiencing their values,
feelings and perceptions. Simulation directors must guide students along this continuum,
helping them achieve their highest possible level of role adoption for the simulation to be
successful. As each participant more accurately reflects a role and acts in character, all
students in the simulation benefit, and the simulation better portrays reality.

The literature of political science simulations suggests several practical steps to
accomplish this move toward role adoption and a greater sense of empathy. First,
focusing the simulation on a topic considered important by the broader community and
students themselves is a way to generate interest and excitement in the simulation,
motivating students to participate more actively. For example, Newmann and Twigg
(2000) use the Indian and Pakistani dispute over Kashmir where terrorism and the threat
of nuclear weapons have been depicted in the media as a looming crisis. Similarly,


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