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The Use of Metaphors, Simulations, and Video games to Train Worldwide Relations

This can be a excerpt from Signature Pedagogies in Worldwide Relations. Get your free obtain of the ebook from E-International Relations.

This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in Worldwide Relations (IR) and introduces three different methods to lively studying, that are used to show difficult subjects within the undergraduate classroom. The primary method is the technique sport, which is designed to encourage college students’ lively participation and assist them grasp key ideas. The second method is a simulation that goals to let college students expertise a hypothetical worldwide disaster as representatives of states and perceive difficulties in battle decision situations. Simulations are usually impressed from sure real-life disaster and developed with a contact of leisure. The third method is the usage of metaphors or tales. It goals to clarify the literature on “sciences” and “strategies” within the IR as a self-discipline by way of a fictional story and the usage of sure metaphors. The chapter first critiques current educating methods within the educational literature. It lists and discusses numerous “sport/simulation designs” constructed by students within the area. Second, it introduces the three methods as a part of my signature pedagogy with examples from beforehand utilized instances. This half particulars the design of every method in a step-by-step format to make them replicable for readers. Third, the chapter discusses the applicability of every method. Mixed, these three approaches give fruitful outcomes particularly when utilized to undergraduate college students of politics and IR. The chapter ends with a set of suggestions on when, with whom, and how one can make the most of every method.

IR is a content-rich self-discipline with no clear-cut disciplinary boundaries. This variation and breadth make it a difficult job to resolve on what an IR signature pedagogy ought to seem like. There are definitely many similarities in addition to divergences on how IR is taught as a occupation the world over. Like most social science disciplines, IR training additionally has typical or conventional pedagogical methods. After summarizing my tackle the standard methods of educating IR, this chapter delves into latest and modern methods. The chapter analyzes lively studying and different different practices in IR training and assesses the capability of these methods to tell my signature pedagogy.

The chapter first appears to be like on the definition of signature pedagogy to debate how an IR signature pedagogy might look. Right here, I emphasize that what we train as IR and the way we train it are intently associated. The part argues that these two questions should be thought-about collectively when fascinated by IR as a occupation. Accordingly, whereas making an evaluation of the previous query of what we train as IR, the primary part connects it with the latter query of how we train IR. The part discusses each typical and non-conventional methods which can be utilized in IR training and supplies examples from the tutorial literature on participatory studying practices employed by IR educators the world over. The second part discusses the usage of three different training methods: (1) technique video games, (2) simulations, and (3) storification. The second part additionally shares my very own educating and studying experiences, in addition to ideas on the usage of every different method. The chapter additionally evaluates current lively studying practices by discussing some great benefits of every method whereas offering ideas for overcoming sure disadvantages. It concludes with a dialogue of how my educating approaches can contribute to an IR signature pedagogy extra broadly. By doing so, this chapter goals so as to add to current methods of educating IR as a occupation.

Signature Pedagogies and IR Schooling

The IR self-discipline is kind of wealthy in content material. Accordingly, the curricula of IR diploma packages comprise quite a lot of subjects and programs. The tendency in most IR undergraduate packages is to begin with sure core introductory social and political science programs within the first years of research after which delve into field-specific ones for the ultimate years. IR-specific programs embrace numerous types of theoretical, historic, and methodological subjects to equip college students with a toolbox to research world politics. After the knowledge-base is about up with required programs, college students are supplied a collection of issue-specific programs relying on the experience of professors inrespective departments. Required programs are largely related in lots of departments the world over, but the in depth scope of the time period IR often ends in a picturesque scene of varied elective programs in several IR departments. There are not any clear-cut boundaries of the IR self-discipline. Certainly, everybody understands that the self-discipline has boundaries, however most of them are uncertain about the place these boundaries are or how one can set them. This unbounded (or multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary) nature of IR supplies an vital maneuvering capability to educators of their job of educating IR. This maneuvering capability impacts each what we train as IR and the way we train it; therefore, each direct us to open up a dialogue on signature pedagogies.

Signature pedagogies are “forms of educating that arrange the elemental methods wherein future practitioners are educated for his or her new professions… These are the types of instruction that leap to thoughts once we first take into consideration the preparation of members of explicit professions” (Shulman 2005, 52). Every area develops signature pedagogies that educators use to show what they assume are elementary necessities of their particular occupation. Certainly, each occupation has its personal signature pedagogy the place “novices are instructed in important points of the three elementary dimensions {of professional} work – to assume, to carry out, and to act with integrity” (Shulman 2005, 52). These elementary dimensions are intently related to what we train and the way we train the ideas and content material we need to train. Within the IR self-discipline, an vital facet that educators want to consider are the abilities and information to switch within the class to get college students prepared their careers. This requires us to resolve what IR as a occupation means. Right here, the above-mentioned traits of the self-discipline complicates issues as graduates of IR diploma packages usually are not directed in the direction of a single occupation. What we do, as an alternative of directing college students in the direction of a single occupation, is mostly to switch essential and core subjects as a toolbox and go away it as much as college students to resolve their space of experience. What we train on the core and past turns into fairly vital as we let the scholar assemble their occupation on the finish. Relating to signature pedagogies, what we train is adopted by how we train it. Certainly, as has been famous, signature pedagogies are extra involved with how educators switch information moderately than what content material they train (Lüdert 2016, 1).

IR training, like a lot of the different social science disciplines, incorporates conventional strategies after all design, analysis, and in-class actions. Conventional strategies usually observe related routines:

  1. Design a syllabus that incorporates important details about the course
  2. Develop a weekly course plan together with required readings (textbook chapters or articles).
  3. Ship common lectures in-class primarily based on these readings.
  4. Add some scholar participation part (attendance, single or group shows).
  5. Consider efficiency via exams and written paper assignments.

On this conventional method, the diploma of data and talent switch within the class relies on the educator’s efficiency and her/his talent in utilizing classroom expertise. Certainly, training methods are considerable and are often primarily based on the creativity of the educator. New and modern approaches have additionally been developed over time. Particularly as technological capabilities have elevated, students have began to search for alternative routes of transferring information and abilities to college students. One goal of those modern approaches has been rising scholar participation and designing extra interactive in-class and off-class routines. Right here, the subjects are taught via a set of actions to coach college students by way of lively participation. Lively studying methods have more and more develop into an vital part of signature pedagogies in IR.

Lively studying is outlined as “an training course of that takes place via scholar engagement with the content material via various kinds of actions that encourage reflection, in an effort to promote lively pondering” (Alves, Silva, and Barbosa 2019, 1). The educator makes use of novel approaches, together with simulations, video games, case research, and different modern methods to encourage and monitor scholar participatory studying. The method shifts the educator from being mere lecturer in the direction of a studying coordinator. After all, the stability of this shift between lecturer and coordinator is set by the educator’s personal choice and educating fashion, creativity, abilities, and institutional and technical capabilities.

The most typical method is the usage of simulations within the classroom. The tutorial literature provides considerable examples of the appliance on simulations (Shaw and Switky 2018; Shaw 2004; Asal and Blake 2006; Asal and Kratoville 2013; de Freitas 2006; Wedig 2010). Simulations have been utilized in educating numerous IR subjects, together with worldwide human rights (Killie 2002), peacekeeping (Shaw 2004), diplomacy and the UN (Chasek 2005), worldwide regulation (Ambrosio 2006), theories of worldwide political economic system (Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006), worldwide negotiations (Shaw 2006), worldwide commerce (Switky and Avilés 2007), humanitarian intervention (Switky 2014), the European Union (Elias 2014), and decision-making (DiCicco 2014).[1] Significantly, Killie (2002, 271–272) asks college students to organize a draft worldwide human rights treaty to simulate worldwide negotiations and encourage scholar curiosity on numerous IR ideas, together with “diplomacy, two-level video games, worldwide regulation, human rights, and group resolution making.” Chasek (2005) provides a disaster simulation primarily based on multi-lateral diplomacy, the place contributors attempt to resolve a hypothetical UN Safety Council disaster. Equally, Switky (2014) makes use of a disaster simulation to let college students expertise the difficulties of decision-making in “humanitarian intervention.” Ambrosio (2006, 159–160) makes use of “Downside Primarily based Studying (PBL)” methods to show worldwide regulation, “wherein college students assumed roles in a mock warfare crimes trial.” Within the mock trial, the creator makes use of a real-life case and designs a hypothetical trial to (1) deepen scholar understanding of the fabric, (2) give :hands-on expertise within the difficulties related to decoding and making use of worldwide regulation,” and (3) bolster scholar curiosity within the subject (Ambrosio 2006, 160). Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke (2006) use a household card sport “Pit,” to assist college students perceive summary theories and ideas of worldwide political economic system and enhance their curiosity in course materials.

Students additionally use in-class video games (Alves, Silva, and Barbosa 2019), mock trials (Ambrosio 2006), zombie simulations (Horn, Rubin, and Schouenborg 2016; Drezner 2014), fiction (Boaz 2020) and novels, sequence, and fashionable films just like the Lord of the Rings (Ruane and James 2008; 2012), Harry Potter (Nexon and Neumann 2006), Recreation of Thrones (Younger and Ko 2019), Star Trek and Star Wars (Dyson 2015; Campbell and Gokcek 2019), and others (Weber 2014; 2010; 2001). By such approaches, IR educators each goal to encourage scholar participation and make it simpler for college kids to know difficult subjects in IR.

Instructing Difficult IR Subjects: Three Alternate options

Lively studying instruments are utilized by educators to (1) let scholar take part in crisis-like conditions and have them expertise the sensible aspect of the occupation and (2) assist scholar perceive summary theoretical and philosophical subjects via metaphors and real-life examples. Every method, as might be outlined on this part, has benefits and downsides. Right here, I discover it helpful to group these methods into three educating approaches: (1) technique video games, (2) disaster simulations, and (3) storification. These methods help educators in educating quite a lot of advanced subjects. As an example, as a part of my very own signature pedagogy, I’ve actively used technique video games to show about collective motion dilemmas, safety dilemmas, and theories of IR, disaster simulations to let college students expertise sure worldwide political crises that require abilities in negotiation, battle decision, and coordinating summit conferences, and storification to show philosophy of science debates in IR principle.

The primary method, technique video games, has a particular function: to be taught and train IR in an entertaining method (See, for example, Thomas 2002; Freitas 2006; Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006). A technique sport could be outlined as a educating method that’s used to clarify and introduce elementary ideas in IR, akin to safety and international coverage, in a clean and swift method. It’s clean as the choice actions, turns of the sport, and variety of actors are all predetermined and managed by the trainer. It’s swift as a result of the ready time between the turns in restricted, and the video games finish in roughly 40 minutes. These video games are particularly helpful as icebreakers (to introduce contributors to one another) and as quick, entertaining breaks between lecture weeks in course design and syllabi. In my lessons, I usually want an adjusted model of the “Isle of Ted Simulation” designed by Glen Dale Thomas ( 2002). Isle of Ted is a turn-based game-like simulation the place contributors signify sure actors and work together with one another in keeping with pre-determined guidelines. After letting contributors play this turn-based interactive sport, the educator can cowl quite a lot of subjects in IR, akin to independence and sovereignty, advanced interdependence, safety dilemma, collective motion dilemma, and others. An vital facet right here is to watch how the contributors work together with one another all through the turns of the sport as every particular spherical of the sport with totally different contributors uncovers attention-grabbing factors for dialogue and classes for reflection.

Technique video games have sure, particular traits. First, these video games are designed to complete in a comparatively quick period of time. Since there’s a restricted variety of resolution and motion alternate options for the contributors, the sport will begin to repeat itself after a number of turns, which diminishes the leisure issue for each contributors and the educator. Second, in contrast to simulations, in technique video games the educator’s function is extra lively as she/he should hold contributors on the transfer and lively due to the time-limit. Third, the appliance of those video games needs to be fastidiously designed to make it each participating and straightforward to know. It needs to be designed virtually and never require superior prior information, lengthy readings, or lectures to organize the contributors. Final however not the least, the technique sport needs to be adjusted in inventive and imaginative methods to be related to the scholar inhabitants. For instance, the educator might change foreign money denominations to “York Liras” (moderately than {dollars} or euros), embrace probability strikes within the sport (like dice-rolling or coin-flipping to resolve religion), or might use imaginary nation names, akin to “Kolombistan, Tartartolia” (moderately than actual nation names). Adjusting the sport in these methods helps hold college students actively engaged moderately than targeted on being overly practical and off.

Technique video games are extremely helpful in educating key ideas of IR (e.g., anarchy, collective motion dilemma, battle vs. cooperation, absolute vs. relative positive factors) and the existence of a number of actors in IR (e.g., states, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)). As such, they’re extra appropriate to make use of as complementary educating methods to assist lectures all through the semester. Relying on the preferences of the educator, technique video games could also be used as icebreakers within the first weeks of any class or may be utilized often all through the semester to consolidate and consider what information has been transferred to the scholars. Based on my expertise, they function nice icebreakers, rising the self-confidence of the scholars by letting them know one another and really feel extra comfy to take part in in-class actions all through the semester. This method is extra appropriate to early-period, junior college students, who should not have preliminary information of the sphere or subjects to be coated.

The second method, disaster simulation, is often primarily based on a replay of a real-life disaster (see Chasek 2005; Ambrosio 2006; Switky 2014, amongst others). A disaster simulation in IR is a pedagogical method primarily based on a state of affairs to create a state of affairs impressed from actual life, which is used to coach, give expertise to, and inform contributors of the possible conduct alternate options to resolve worldwide political crises and conflicts. It is rather helpful, as there are a lot of instances in IR that may be simulated on this method (the Chilly Warfare, the First and Second World Warfare, the Abkhazia Disaster between Russia and Georgia, the Financial Disaster of Greece and the European Union, the institution of the European Union, and many others.). The state of affairs is usually created by an educator who’s an knowledgeable on this space of analysis. Actual-life crises are employed (1) to show particular subject areas, akin to causes and causes for warfare and battle, and (2) for example and let contributors expertise how tough it could develop into for practitioners within the area (state leaders, diplomats, politicians, IGOs and NGOs, civil society) to resolve conflicts on the bottom. On this sense, disaster simulations differ from technique video games. In simulations, participation is made as practical as potential and leisure will not be essentially a consideration. Nevertheless, in technique video games there’s a cautious stability between educating and leisure, which requires extra creativeness and creativity. As well as, simulations goal to switch expertise to the contributors via illustrating the method of disaster administration whereas technique video games largely goal to show elementary ideas.

Simulations have their very own strict guidelines, however they don’t seem to be carved in stone. As an example, if the simulation is ready to resolve battle, contributors might not have the choice to resort to violence (declare warfare) till a sure flip comes. Nevertheless, these guidelines usually are not as mechanical as these of the technique video games. Since simulations take longer (starting from half a day, an entire day, a few days, and even longer), the educator might let contributors resolve how one can cope with the state of affairs via diplomacy and different measures. In technique video games nevertheless, there’s a time restrict, and guidelines are usually stricter and fewer fluid. Certainly, in simulations the results of crisis-management or conflict-resolution processes are left to the contributors to resolve. As an example, in one of many instances, I used to be anticipating the contributors to come back to a summit and resolve their variations there. Nevertheless, it was a shock for me to see the contributors revealed that they signed a secret treaty as an alternative of utilizing open dialogue channels. This turned out to be an attention-grabbing instance on what could be achieved by leaving some house for the creativity of the contributors. I took it as an encouragement for rising college students’ participation throughout the movement of the simulation and for leaving extra space to the contributors by letting them to provide you with different extra inventive programs of motion. In comparison with technique video games, I believe simulations give the educator an elevated maneuvering capability each by way of content material and inspiring contributors involvement.

Sometimes, simulations are primarily based on a typical design that features:

  1. Creating groups in keeping with the category dimension and variety of contributors
  2. Figuring out the variety of turns and size primarily based on the allotted time
  3. Establishing a communication platform, akin to a roundtable that contributors use as a summit to debate their variations
  4. Making ready and distributing a technique doc for every group originally of the sport that the contributors use a suggestion
  5. Establishing a world media group via which contributors obtain information about one another
  6. Beginning the simulation, monitoring the turn-based movement, and letting the contributors resolve the battle

The educator usually offers data to the contributors earlier than the simulation begins, displays the movement of the simulation, assesses the simulation on the finish, and covers related subjects afterwards. As soon as the main points of this simulation design are established by the educator, it turns into simpler to write down an IR disaster simulation on any subject in worldwide politics. Whereas situations and minor particulars change throughout totally different simulations, there are specific widespread traits as effectively. First, simulations often take longer than different methods. Because the alternate options usually are not fixed for contributors, the simulations don’t fall into repetition after a few turns like these in technique video games. Second, the principle goal of simulations is to create a sensible state of affairs.

Disaster simulations usually are not video games, they’re deliberately designed with the goal of transferring practical experiences from the IR occupation. Final however not least, disaster simulations want substantial preparation and prior information of the subject. Educators usually must assign selective readings to contributors, clarify guidelines intimately, and allocate enough time for contributors to organize for the simulation.

Simulations require an extended time for preparation and are finest used to teach senior college students who’ve prior information of the important thing ideas in IR and the case at hand. In comparison with technique video games, I like to recommend that simulations be used with comparatively extra skilled IR college students. Nevertheless, the educator might want to organize extra detailed directions and allocate extra time for preparation. Disaster simulations are nice methods to let college students expertise IR as a occupation via numerous views. College students expertise many points of IR as a occupation at totally different phases of the simulation, together with, however not restricted to the difficulties of reaching consensus in worldwide negotiations, the hassle wanted to achieve a typical floor in diplomacy, the challenges within the technique of peaceable decision of disputes, the choice methods of representing a state as a diplomat, the significance and function of communication and worldwide media, and the function of worldwide establishments in world politics. The educator must observe the simulation fastidiously and take notes of the subjects to judge on the finish of the simulation. The analysis on the finish of the simulation is of key significance for the reason that educator makes a ultimate evaluation to attach her/his observations throughout the simulation with the information she/he intends to switch to the scholars.

Lastly, storification, is a way that I exploit to show science and strategies in IR to undergraduate college students with no prior information (see Ruane and James 2008; 2012; Nexon and Neumann 2006; Younger and Ko 2019 amongst others). I invented a narrative titled “The Story of Two Villages: Rationalia and Reflectia” with the aim of explaining to college students and serving to them perceive the so-called nice theoretical debates and rationalist-reflectivist divide in IR (Luleci and Sula 2016; Sula and Luleci 2015; Sula 2019a; 2019b). The story is about individuals residing in two distinct neighborhoods, their totally different existence and the occasions occurring after their first encounter. The story begins by describing life in Rationalia. Residents of Rationalia have fairly related existence and every day routines the place they assemble and dwell in very related buildings and homes. Then the story continues with residents of Reflectia, who dwell in very totally different circumstances. Reflectians should not have related homes, routines, or priorities however take pleasure in uniqueness within the lives of every resident. The story continues with the primary encounter of Rationalians and Reflectians and with how Rationalians attempt to hold Reflectians out of their life. Rationalians even construct large partitions, put gatekeepers to cease Reflectians from coming into their sacred territories till a sure pure catastrophe (an earthquake) destroys their partitions. After telling this quick story, I ask the scholars to take a position and talk about the metaphors within the story. As an example, the towers of Rationalia representing the rationalist analysis packages, the massive wall-representing disciplinary boundaries in IR, the earthquake representing the tip of the Chilly Warfare, and different metaphors that I inject into the story. When this system is mixed with creativity, and prior readings on the subject, it helps the scholar perceive and keep in mind the discussions made within the classroom. Identical to the usage of fashionable sequence, films, and novels, the usage of storification and metaphors additionally has the potential to assist educators simplify the subjects and switch information to their college students.

I exploit this system to switch information of advanced theoretical subjects in IR to college students via simplifying and utilizing metaphors. Storification extremely relies on the creativity of the educator. I counsel that, earlier than making a story, the educator assume whether or not the metaphors she/he makes use of within the story really signify the information she/he intends to switch to the scholars. Primarily based on the suggestions that I get from the scholars, on sure events I spotted that I’ve been telling “The Story of Two Villages: Rationalia and Reflectia” in a method that directs the scholars to assist one aspect of the controversy greater than the opposite. Since that was not my intent, I had needed to clarify the scholars that I don’t assist any of these theoretical positions greater than the opposite. This suggestions required me to readjust and take into consideration the methods I inform the story within the classroom. Therefore, fastidiously assessing what information has been transferred to the scholars is a vital facet of this system. If the course has studying materials on advanced theoretical subjects, the trainer might ask the scholars to learn the fabric earlier than telling the story; then, after telling the story at school, give college students further time to consider the studying and assess the switch of data via dialogue of the metaphors used within the story. Thereby, the educator can assess the diploma of data switch and test if she/he transferred any unintended positions to the scholars.


The abundance of different pedagogical methods helps educators formulate modern, participatory, and environment friendly methods of educating IR as a occupation. Certainly, the usefulness of every method relies on how the educator designs her/his training profile and what she/he understands as IR signature pedagogy. My expertise is that every method has benefits and downsides in educating and studying IR. One of many shared goals of the approaches mentioned above is to switch information and expertise to the participant via a simplified and entertaining course of.

There are a few vital points to recollect whereas using these methods: (1) the educator might miss some vital particulars of the subject that she/he desires to cowl whereas attempting to make use of these methods, and (2) perhaps extra importantly, the educator might switch the incorrect message to the contributors. Each points require the educator to fastidiously assess the diploma of data and expertise transferred to the participant and fill within the gaps and proper data if recognized. My expertise is that the educator might fairly simply switch unintended messages to contributors turning them into fanatic supporters of a particular mind-set in IR (realists, liberals, rationalists, and many others.) or nationalist supporters of one of many international locations within the simulations. That is particularly so when the participant doesn’t have prior information of the subject. Subsequently, I want utilizing these methods after letting college students perceive the fundamentals of the course (often after a few lecture weeks all through the semester).

Particularly, technique video games are nice icebreakers within the undergraduate classroom, letting college students know one another earlier than persevering with the course all through the semester. Different two methods are extra appropriate for explaining sure subjects intimately. Since disaster simulations require prior coaching, it’s higher to make use of them in the direction of the ultimate weeks of the semester. They could even be used as exams to evaluate and consider scholar information and expertise on the finish of the course. Storification could be unfold all through the course relying on the creativity of the educator. I exploit tales and metaphors as dialogue starters simply after lectures and different instances when essential.

The training methods mentioned on this chapter are fairly helpful, as their construction is open for adjustment, their design could be up to date, and their utility is open to variation. Nevertheless, whereas these methods encourage lively participation, it’s the educator that places the signature on the finish. What the educator teaches and the way she/he teaches it determines the definition of IR as a occupation. Relating to the abundance of different training methods within the present state of the literature, it’s a nice time to begin discussing signature pedagogies in IR.


[1] See additionally numerous different simulation, downside primarily based studying and lively studying examples: Switky (2014); Horn, Rubin, and Schouenborg (2016); Zappile, Beers, and Raymond (2017); Kempston and Thomas (2014); and Thomas (2002).


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