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Teaching American Political Institutions Using Role-playing Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  13 neither bill was passed. The first alternative, which would have established ethical conditions under which embryonic stem cell research could be conducted, came close, but it was defeated on a tie vote. Interestingly, if the senators had all voted as their counterparts had done on the real Senate floor, this bill would have passed by one vote. Debriefing After the simulation, the class reconvened to discuss the lessons they had learned from the simulation. In facilitating the discussion, I used the following set of questions to touch upon a few key points: 1. What we have considered here is an inside strategy approach to the stem cell issue. What are some ways in which the various interest groups involved in this debate might engage in a more ―outside‖ strategy? 2. Which group’s members have the greatest motivation on this issue? What types of motivation are operative in each case (material, solidary, purposive)? 3. In what ways is this issue similar to the gun control issue that you read about in Spitzer’s The Politics of Gun Control? 4. Is there a role for the political parties in this debate? What kinds of interests to parties represent, compared to these interest groups? Without going into all the details of the discussion, I was impressed with the students’ grasp of the key issues. By using stem cell research as the issue under consideration, we were able to discuss the different motivations driving interest groups—from the purposive motivations of religious individuals and research scientists, to the more material motivations of drug manufacturers hoping to make money off of potential new drug therapy treatments. Additionally, the issue allowed us to have a good discussion about the distinctions between special interests and the general (or public) interest. After a little prodding, students were able to discern that the stem cell issue can be characterized as either a general or a special interest depending upon your perspective. To those who believe that stem cell research has the potential to cure numerous diseases, the funding of stem cell research is in the best interest of all

Authors: Gonzales, Angelo.
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neither bill was passed. The first alternative, which would have established ethical conditions
under which embryonic stem cell research could be conducted, came close, but it was defeated
on a tie vote. Interestingly, if the senators had all voted as their counterparts had done on the real
Senate floor, this bill would have passed by one vote.
Debriefing
After the simulation, the class reconvened to discuss the lessons they had learned from
the simulation. In facilitating the discussion, I used the following set of questions to touch upon
a few key points:
1.
What we have considered here is an inside strategy approach to the stem cell issue.
What are some ways in which the various interest groups involved in this debate
might engage in a more ―outside‖ strategy?
2.
Which group’s members have the greatest motivation on this issue? What types of
motivation are operative in each case (material, solidary, purposive)?
3.
In what ways is this issue similar to the gun control issue that you read about in
Spitzer’s The Politics of Gun Control?
4.
Is there a role for the political parties in this debate? What kinds of interests to
parties represent, compared to these interest groups?
Without going into all the details of the discussion, I was impressed with the students’ grasp of
the key issues. By using stem cell research as the issue under consideration, we were able to
discuss the different motivations driving interest groups—from the purposive motivations of
religious individuals and research scientists, to the more material motivations of drug
manufacturers hoping to make money off of potential new drug therapy treatments.
Additionally, the issue allowed us to have a good discussion about the distinctions between
special interests and the general (or public) interest. After a little prodding, students were able to
discern that the stem cell issue can be characterized as either a general or a special interest
depending upon your perspective. To those who believe that stem cell research has the potential
to cure numerous diseases, the funding of stem cell research is in the best interest of all


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