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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  several factors, some indicative of all simulations, others amplified by the use of the Internet and on-line interaction. First, the inter-subjective research requirement made participants look at international relations differently as they sought to see the world through the perspective of another country. Use of the Internet to obtain sources from these other nations may have been their first experience in viewing the world differently, and it helped participants adopt these views for the simulation. The requirement that they write the paper from their country’s perspective also added to their internalization of the information and role adoption. While most simulations demand some level of research, this project’s requirement for inter-subjectivity and the availability of sources from the simulated countries were particularly useful in encouraging empathy. Second, the need to assume responsibility as a decision maker in the simulation on behalf of their country team seemed to help students internalize their country’s perspective and foster a sense of empathy. This role playing responsibility is common to all simulations, but several aspects of this on-line experience seemed to strengthen the process. Use of the computer to obtain and transmit information is now one of the most common means of communication for students. Its speed and familiarity encourage them to maintain on-going interaction through out the simulation, day and night, deepening their role playing efforts. The facility and immediacy of on-line communication combined with the level of crisis associated with Middle East insecurity heightened students’ participation. As a result, they seemed to focus their attention, reinforce their level of responsibility to their country teams, and more intensely adopt their roles. Third, participants anticipated the simulation as an interesting, lively experience. Many took the course because their friends told them about the project, and they came to class ready to participate. They were motivated to learn about the subject matter and become actively involved. Their “country team” became a bonding group, and peer pressure seemed to make them want to impress team members and other “diplomats” with their knowledge and ability to participate realistically in their country roles. Finally, citizen to citizen diplomacy with Middle East nationals in the simulation also seemed to foster a sense of empathy toward their countries. Reviewing student role playing on the internet and offering advice, the foreign nationals motivated students to act more realistically and gain a better sense of their country’s goals and values. Such participation in other simulations may seem prohibitive due to a lack of personal contact or funding (4). However, this project originally introduced outside, international participation without any funding and few personal contacts. At the start, consulate officials from Israel, Jordan and Egypt as well as foreign graduate students from nearby, larger universities provided advice to students. The consular officers gave their country’s official viewpoint, and the graduate students followed instructions that their advice should reflect policies their country would actually pursue, not what they might prefer. This external involvement most likely reinforced students’ efforts at role playing and their development of empathy.

Authors: Stover, William.
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several factors, some indicative of all simulations, others amplified by the use of the
Internet and on-line interaction.

First, the inter-subjective research requirement made participants look at international
relations differently as they sought to see the world through the perspective of another
country. Use of the Internet to obtain sources from these other nations may have been
their first experience in viewing the world differently, and it helped participants adopt
these views for the simulation. The requirement that they write the paper from their
country’s perspective also added to their internalization of the information and role
adoption. While most simulations demand some level of research, this project’s
requirement for inter-subjectivity and the availability of sources from the simulated
countries were particularly useful in encouraging empathy.

Second, the need to assume responsibility as a decision maker in the simulation on behalf
of their country team seemed to help students internalize their country’s perspective and
foster a sense of empathy. This role playing responsibility is common to all simulations,
but several aspects of this on-line experience seemed to strengthen the process. Use of
the computer to obtain and transmit information is now one of the most common means
of communication for students. Its speed and familiarity encourage them to maintain on-
going interaction through out the simulation, day and night, deepening their role playing
efforts. The facility and immediacy of on-line communication combined with the level
of crisis associated with Middle East insecurity heightened students’ participation. As a
result, they seemed to focus their attention, reinforce their level of responsibility to their
country teams, and more intensely adopt their roles.

Third, participants anticipated the simulation as an interesting, lively experience. Many
took the course because their friends told them about the project, and they came to class
ready to participate. They were motivated to learn about the subject matter and become
actively involved. Their “country team” became a bonding group, and peer pressure
seemed to make them want to impress team members and other “diplomats” with their
knowledge and ability to participate realistically in their country roles.

Finally, citizen to citizen diplomacy with Middle East nationals in the simulation also
seemed to foster a sense of empathy toward their countries. Reviewing student role
playing on the internet and offering advice, the foreign nationals motivated students to act
more realistically and gain a better sense of their country’s goals and values. Such
participation in other simulations may seem prohibitive due to a lack of personal contact
or funding (4). However, this project originally introduced outside, international
participation without any funding and few personal contacts. At the start, consulate
officials from Israel, Jordan and Egypt as well as foreign graduate students from nearby,
larger universities provided advice to students. The consular officers gave their country’s
official viewpoint, and the graduate students followed instructions that their advice
should reflect policies their country would actually pursue, not what they might prefer.
This external involvement most likely reinforced students’ efforts at role playing and
their development of empathy.


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