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

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


It is a excerpt from Signature Pedagogies in Worldwide Relations. Get your free obtain of the guide from E-International Relations.

This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in Worldwide Relations (IR) and introduces three various strategies to energetic studying, that are used to show difficult matters within the undergraduate classroom. The primary approach is the technique sport, which is designed to encourage college students’ energetic participation and assist them grasp key ideas. The second approach 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 typically impressed from sure real-life disaster and developed with a contact of leisure. The third approach is the usage of metaphors or tales. It goals to elucidate the literature on “sciences” and “strategies” within the IR as a self-discipline through a fictional story and the usage of sure metaphors. The chapter first opinions present educating strategies within the tutorial literature. It lists and discusses numerous “sport/simulation designs” constructed by students within the area. Second, it introduces the three strategies as a part of my signature pedagogy with examples from beforehand utilized instances. This half particulars the design of every approach in a step-by-step format to make them replicable for readers. Third, the chapter discusses the applicability of every approach. 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 easy methods to make the most of every approach.

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

The chapter first appears on the definition of signature pedagogy to debate how an IR signature pedagogy could look. Right here, I emphasize that what we educate as IR and the way we educate it are carefully associated. The part argues that these two questions must be thought of collectively when fascinated with IR as a occupation. Accordingly, whereas making an evaluation of the previous query of what we educate as IR, the primary part connects it with the latter query of how we educate IR. The part discusses each typical and non-conventional strategies which are utilized in IR training and offers examples from the educational literature on participatory studying practices employed by IR educators internationally. The second part discusses the usage of three various training strategies: (1) technique video games, (2) simulations, and (3) storification. The second part additionally shares my very own educating and studying experiences, in addition to recommendations on the usage of every various approach. The chapter additionally evaluates present energetic studying practices by discussing the benefits of every approach whereas offering recommendations 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 present methods of educating IR as a occupation.

Signature Pedagogies and IR Schooling

The IR self-discipline is sort of wealthy in content material. Accordingly, the curricula of IR diploma applications comprise quite a lot of matters and programs. The tendency in most IR undergraduate applications is to start out with sure core introductory social and political science programs within the first years of examine after which delve into field-specific ones for the ultimate years. IR-specific programs embody numerous types of theoretical, historic, and methodological matters 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 number of issue-specific programs relying on the experience of professors inrespective departments. Required programs are largely related in lots of departments internationally, but the intensive scope of the time period IR normally leads to a picturesque scene of assorted elective programs in numerous IR departments. There aren’t 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 easy methods to set them. This unbounded (or multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary) nature of IR offers an vital maneuvering capability to educators of their process of educating IR. This maneuvering capability impacts each what we educate as IR and the way we educate it; therefore, each direct us to open up a dialogue on signature pedagogies.

Signature pedagogies are “kinds of educating that manage the basic methods during which 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 specific 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 facets 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 carefully related to what we educate and the way we educate the ideas and content material we wish to educate. Within the IR self-discipline, an vital side 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 determine what IR as a occupation means. Right here, the above-mentioned traits of the self-discipline complicates issues as graduates of IR diploma applications usually are not directed in the direction of a single occupation. What we do, as a substitute of directing college students in the direction of a single occupation, is usually to switch important and core matters as a toolbox and go away it as much as college students to determine their space of experience. What we educate on the core and past turns into fairly vital as we let the coed assemble their occupation on the finish. Relating to signature pedagogies, what we educate is adopted by how we educate it. Certainly, as has been famous, signature pedagogies are extra involved with how educators switch information quite than what content material they educate (Lüdert 2016, 1).

IR training, like many of the different social science disciplines, accommodates conventional strategies in fact design, analysis, and in-class actions. Conventional strategies typically comply with related routines:

  1. Design a syllabus that accommodates 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 element (attendance, single or group displays).
  5. Consider efficiency by means of exams and written paper assignments.

On this conventional strategy, the diploma of information and talent switch within the class relies on the educator’s efficiency and her/his talent in utilizing classroom expertise. Certainly, training strategies are ample and are normally 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 other ways of transferring information and expertise to college students. One intention of those modern approaches has been rising scholar participation and designing extra interactive in-class and off-class routines. Right here, the matters are taught by means of a set of actions to coach college students through energetic participation. Energetic studying strategies have more and more grow to be an vital element of signature pedagogies in IR.

Energetic studying is outlined as “an training course of that takes place by means of scholar engagement with the content material by means of several types of actions that encourage reflection, with a purpose to promote energetic pondering” (Alves, Silva, and Barbosa 2019, 1). The educator makes use of novel approaches, together with simulations, video games, case research, and different modern strategies to encourage and monitor scholar participatory studying. The method shifts the educator from being mere lecturer in the direction of a studying coordinator. In fact, the stability of this shift between lecturer and coordinator is set by the educator’s personal desire and educating type, creativity, expertise, and institutional and technical capabilities.

The most typical approach is the usage of simulations within the classroom. The educational literature affords ample 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 matters, together with worldwide human rights (Killie 2002), peacekeeping (Shaw 2004), diplomacy and the UN (Chasek 2005), worldwide legislation (Ambrosio 2006), theories of worldwide political financial 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] Notably, Killie (2002, 271–272) asks college students to arrange 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 legislation, human rights, and group determination making.” Chasek (2005) affords a disaster simulation primarily based on multi-lateral diplomacy, the place members 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 “Drawback Primarily based Studying (PBL)” strategies to show worldwide legislation, “during which college students assumed roles in a mock battle crimes trial.” Within the mock trial, the writer 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 legislation,” 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 financial 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 widespread motion pictures just like the Lord of the Rings (Ruane and James 2008; 2012), Harry Potter (Nexon and Neumann 2006), Sport 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 intention to encourage scholar participation and make it simpler for college kids to know difficult matters in IR.

Instructing Difficult IR Subjects: Three Alternate options

Energetic studying instruments are utilized by educators to (1) let scholar take part in crisis-like conditions and have them expertise the sensible facet of the occupation and (2) assist scholar perceive summary theoretical and philosophical matters by means of metaphors and real-life examples. Every approach, as might be outlined on this part, has benefits and drawbacks. Right here, I discover it helpful to group these strategies into three educating approaches: (1) technique video games, (2) disaster simulations, and (3) storification. These strategies help educators in educating quite a lot of advanced matters. As an illustration, 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 expertise in negotiation, battle decision, and coordinating summit conferences, and storification to show philosophy of science debates in IR idea.

The primary approach, technique video games, has a selected function: to be taught and educate IR in an entertaining method (See, as an example, Thomas 2002; Freitas 2006; Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006). A technique sport may be outlined as a educating approach that’s used to elucidate and introduce elementary ideas in IR, comparable to safety and overseas coverage, in a easy and swift method. It’s easy as the choice actions, turns of the sport, and variety of actors are all predetermined and managed by the teacher. 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 members to one another) and as quick, entertaining breaks between lecture weeks in course design and syllabi. In my courses, I typically favor 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 members symbolize sure actors and work together with one another in accordance with pre-determined guidelines. After letting members play this turn-based interactive sport, the educator can cowl quite a lot of matters in IR, comparable to independence and sovereignty, advanced interdependence, safety dilemma, collective motion dilemma, and others. An vital side right here is to observe how the members work together with one another all through the turns of the sport as every particular spherical of the sport with completely different members 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 determination and motion alternate options for the members, the sport will begin to repeat itself after a number of turns, which diminishes the leisure issue for each members and the educator. Second, in contrast to simulations, in technique video games the educator’s function is extra energetic as she/he should preserve members on the transfer and energetic due to the time-limit. Third, the appliance of those video games ought to be rigorously designed to make it each partaking and simple to understand. It ought to be designed virtually and never require superior prior information, lengthy readings, or lectures to arrange the members. Final however not the least, the technique sport ought to be adjusted in artistic and imaginative methods to be related to the coed inhabitants. For instance, the educator could change foreign money denominations to “York Liras” (quite than {dollars} or euros), embody likelihood strikes within the sport (like dice-rolling or coin-flipping to determine religion), or could use imaginary nation names, comparable to “Kolombistan, Tartartolia” (quite than actual nation names). Adjusting the sport in these methods helps preserve college students actively engaged quite than centered on being overly sensible and rancid.

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 aspects) 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 strategies to help 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 could be utilized sometimes all through the semester to consolidate and consider what information has been transferred to the scholars. In line with my expertise, they function nice icebreakers, rising the self-confidence of the scholars by letting them know one another and really feel extra snug to take part in in-class actions all through the semester. This system is extra appropriate to early-period, junior college students, who wouldn’t have preliminary information of the sphere or matters to be coated.

The second approach, disaster simulation, is normally 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 approach 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 members of the possible habits alternate options to resolve worldwide political crises and conflicts. It is extremely helpful, as there are lots of instances in IR that may be simulated on this approach (the Chilly Struggle, the First and Second World Struggle, 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 professional on this space of analysis. Actual-life crises are employed (1) to show particular subject areas, comparable to causes and causes for battle and battle, and (2) as an instance and let members expertise how troublesome it might grow to be 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 sensible as attainable and leisure just isn’t essentially a consideration. Nonetheless, in technique video games there’s a cautious stability between educating and leisure, which requires extra creativeness and creativity. As well as, simulations intention to switch expertise to the members by means of illustrating the method of disaster administration whereas technique video games largely intention to show elementary ideas.

Simulations have their very own strict guidelines, however they don’t seem to be carved in stone. As an illustration, if the simulation is ready to resolve battle, members could not have the choice to resort to violence (declare battle) till a sure flip comes. Nonetheless, 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 could let members determine easy methods to cope with the state of affairs by means of 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 members to determine. As an illustration, in one of many instances, I used to be anticipating the members to come back to a summit and resolve their variations there. Nonetheless, it was a shock for me to see the members revealed that they signed a secret treaty as a substitute of utilizing open dialogue channels. This turned out to be an attention-grabbing instance on what may be achieved by leaving some area for the creativity of the members. I took it as an encouragement for rising college students’ participation through the movement of the simulation and for leaving more room to the members by letting them to provide you with various extra artistic programs of motion. In comparison with technique video games, I believe simulations give the educator an elevated maneuvering capability each when it comes to content material and inspiring members involvement.

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

  1. Creating groups in accordance with the category measurement and variety of members
  2. Figuring out the variety of turns and size primarily based on the allotted time
  3. Establishing a communication platform, comparable to a roundtable that members use as a summit to debate their variations
  4. Making ready and distributing a method doc for every crew initially of the sport that the members use a suggestion
  5. Establishing a global media crew by means of which members obtain information about one another
  6. Beginning the simulation, monitoring the turn-based movement, and letting the members resolve the battle

The educator typically provides info to the members earlier than the simulation begins, screens the movement of the simulation, assesses the simulation on the finish, and covers related matters afterwards. As soon as the main points of this simulation design are established by the educator, it turns into simpler to put in writing an IR disaster simulation on any subject in worldwide politics. Whereas situations and minor particulars change throughout completely different simulations, there are specific widespread traits as effectively. First, simulations normally take longer than different strategies. For the reason that alternate options usually are not fixed for members, the simulations don’t fall into repetition after a few turns like these in technique video games. Second, the primary intention of simulations is to create a sensible state of affairs.

Disaster simulations usually are not video games, they’re deliberately designed with the intention of transferring sensible experiences from the IR occupation. Final however not least, disaster simulations want substantial preparation and prior information of the subject. Educators typically have to assign selective readings to members, clarify guidelines intimately, and allocate ample time for members to arrange for the simulation.

Simulations require an extended time for preparation and are greatest used to coach 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. Nonetheless, the educator could favor to arrange extra detailed directions and allocate extra time for preparation. Disaster simulations are nice methods to let college students expertise IR as a occupation by means of various views. College students expertise many facets of IR as a occupation at completely different levels of the simulation, together with, however not restricted to the difficulties of reaching consensus in worldwide negotiations, the trouble wanted to succeed in a standard 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 comply with the simulation rigorously and take notes of the matters to guage on the finish of the simulation. The analysis on the finish of the simulation is of key significance because the educator makes a last evaluation to attach her/his observations through the simulation with the information she/he intends to switch to the scholars.

Lastly, storification, is a method 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 objective 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 dwelling in two distinct neighborhoods, their completely 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 day by day routines the place they assemble and stay in very related buildings and homes. Then the story continues with residents of Reflectia, who stay in very completely different situations. Reflectians wouldn’t have related homes, routines, or priorities however get pleasure from uniqueness within the lives of every resident. The story continues with the primary encounter of Rationalians and Reflectians and with how Rationalians attempt to preserve 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 invest and talk about the metaphors within the story. As an illustration, the towers of Rationalia representing the rationalist analysis applications, the large wall-representing disciplinary boundaries in IR, the earthquake representing the top of the Chilly Struggle, and different metaphors that I inject into the story. When this method is mixed with creativity, and prior readings on the subject, it helps the coed perceive and keep in mind the discussions made within the classroom. Identical to the usage of widespread sequence, motion pictures, and novels, the usage of storification and metaphors additionally has the potential to assist educators simplify the matters and switch information to their college students.

I exploit this method to switch information of advanced theoretical matters in IR to college students by means of simplifying and utilizing metaphors. Storification extremely is dependent upon the creativity of the educator. I recommend that, earlier than making a story, the educator assume whether or not the metaphors she/he makes use of within the story actually symbolize 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 manner that directs the scholars to help one facet of the controversy greater than the opposite. Since that was not my intent, I had needed to clarify the scholars that I don’t help 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, rigorously assessing what information has been transferred to the scholars is a vital side of this method. If the course has studying materials on advanced theoretical matters, the teacher could 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 information by means of dialogue of the metaphors used within the story. Thereby, the educator can assess the diploma of information switch and test if she/he transferred any unintended positions to the scholars.


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

There are a few vital facets to recollect whereas using these strategies: (1) the educator could miss some vital particulars of the subject that she/he desires to cowl whereas making an attempt to make use of these strategies, and (2) perhaps extra importantly, the educator could switch the fallacious message to the members. Each facets require the educator to rigorously assess the diploma of information and expertise transferred to the participant and fill within the gaps and proper info if recognized. My expertise is that the educator could fairly simply switch unintended messages to members turning them into fanatic supporters of a selected 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 favor utilizing these strategies after letting college students perceive the fundamentals of the course (normally 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 strategies are extra appropriate for explaining sure matters 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 may 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 vital.

The training strategies mentioned on this chapter are fairly helpful, as their construction is open for adjustment, their design may be up to date, and their utility is open to variation. Nonetheless, whereas these strategies encourage energetic 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 other training strategies within the present state of the literature, it’s a nice time to start out discussing signature pedagogies in IR.


[1] See additionally numerous different simulation, downside primarily based studying and energetic 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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