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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  Middle East Diplomatic Simulation These concepts were applied as part of a simulation in a course introducing international relations to undergraduates at Santa Clara University. 90 students participated in the Middle East simulation over three quarters during the academic year 2001 with 30 students in each class. Our subjects were lower-division students with little if any knowledge of the Middle East, other than the casual reading or viewing they might have done through American media sources. Their interest in the simulation’s topic was high, part of the national reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Participants chose countries to represent based on a list provided and their personal preference. If they had a bias toward a country, they were encouraged to consider choosing it, for the simulation might give them a different perspective. Most students got their first or second choice, and when a country team needed an additional member, students volunteered to take the assignment. As part of their own group process, students then selected decision-making roles within their countries: heads of state or government, foreign ministers or ambassadors, and national security advisors. Students made their choices of countries and roles early in the ten-week quarter so they could become acquainted with the members of their “country team” and fill out a simple survey assessing their views on Arabs or Israelis, depending on the country they chose to represent. As part of the introductory course, they read several articles about the Middle East, attended three lectures, and saw three video documentaries dealing with Palestinian-Israeli conflict, militant Islamic fundamentalism, and the history of United States relations with Iraq. Their preparation for the simulation involved research for a 10 to 15 page term paper oriented around their simulated country. Heads of state wrote about the goals of their country in the Middle East, foreign ministers wrote about the history of relations between their country and others in the simulation, and national security advisors wrote about their country's security position. The research required three types of sources: recent academic journals, current news media, and Internet sites from the countries they represented. The latter included hundreds of sources selected and posted on the simulation web site. This meant students had to look beyond the American oriented media and academic community, “visiting” sites from the Middle East made available on-line. The papers were subjective rather than objective efforts, probably unlike any research the participants had previously conducted. Thus, the project required careful explanation: the paper should not be a neutral, balanced report. Rather, participants presented research from their simulated country's perspective. For example, someone taking the role of an Israeli would use speeches by Israeli political leaders, articles written by Israeli journalists and scholars, and statements issued by the Israeli government. The paper also had to be presented in a subjective format, attempting to capture the values and perceptions of the simulated state and decision maker. For example, notes for a state of

Authors: Stover, William.
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Middle East Diplomatic Simulation
These concepts were applied as part of a simulation in a course introducing international
relations to undergraduates at Santa Clara University. 90 students participated in the
Middle East simulation over three quarters during the academic year 2001 with 30
students in each class. Our subjects were lower-division students with little if any
knowledge of the Middle East, other than the casual reading or viewing they might have
done through American media sources. Their interest in the simulation’s topic was high,
part of the national reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Participants chose countries to represent based on a list provided and their personal
preference. If they had a bias toward a country, they were encouraged to consider
choosing it, for the simulation might give them a different perspective. Most students got
their first or second choice, and when a country team needed an additional member,
students volunteered to take the assignment. As part of their own group process, students
then selected decision-making roles within their countries: heads of state or government,
foreign ministers or ambassadors, and national security advisors.

Students made their choices of countries and roles early in the ten-week quarter so they
could become acquainted with the members of their “country team” and fill out a simple
survey assessing their views on Arabs or Israelis, depending on the country they chose to
represent. As part of the introductory course, they read several articles about the Middle
East, attended three lectures, and saw three video documentaries dealing with Palestinian-
Israeli conflict, militant Islamic fundamentalism, and the history of United States
relations with Iraq.

Their preparation for the simulation involved research for a 10 to 15 page term paper
oriented around their simulated country. Heads of state wrote about the goals of their
country in the Middle East, foreign ministers wrote about the history of relations between
their country and others in the simulation, and national security advisors wrote about their
country's security position.

The research required three types of sources: recent academic journals, current news
media, and Internet sites from the countries they represented. The latter included
hundreds of sources selected and posted on the simulation web site. This meant students
had to look beyond the American oriented media and academic community, “visiting”
sites from the Middle East made available on-line.

The papers were subjective rather than objective efforts, probably unlike any research the
participants had previously conducted. Thus, the project required careful explanation: the
paper should not be a neutral, balanced report. Rather, participants presented research
from their simulated country's perspective. For example, someone taking the role of an
Israeli would use speeches by Israeli political leaders, articles written by Israeli
journalists and scholars, and statements issued by the Israeli government. The paper also
had to be presented in a subjective format, attempting to capture the values and
perceptions of the simulated state and decision maker. For example, notes for a state of


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