Students Participate in International Crisis Simulation

Posted: April 26, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Thirty George Mason undergraduates, together with students from more than 40 colleges and universities worldwide, have just completed the Atlantic Crisis Game, an international political simulation sponsored by the Atlantic Council of the United States. George Mason students played the role of the Netherlands in a fictional crisis centered in Kosovo, while other universities played the roles of other countries. The crisis game was conducted on the Internet and involved schools as far away as Athens, Greece; Helsinki, Finland; and Vladivostok, Russia.

The George Mason students were organized into teams that monitored developments around the clock and coordinated their actions through face-to-face meetings and chat rooms. Each team included students who represented the key government organizations in the Netherlands as well as individuals who specialize in particular countries and regions. The game controllers at the Atlantic Council announced new developments in the scenario and students had to develop responses ranging from deploying military forces to drafting United Nations resolutions.

“The students not only deepened their knowledge of international politics, but also enhanced their skills in research, communications, and teamwork,” says Jim Barry, visiting associate professor in New Century College, who coordinated the course. Before the game began, students met with diplomats from the Dutch embassy to learn about the policies and political culture of the Netherlands, including its emphasis on consensus politics, international collaboration, and humanitarian values.

“Over the past four years I have taken a lot of leadership courses, but nothing has ever tested my ability as much as this simulation,” says New Century College student Christina Hall, who is concentrating on environmental studies. “I learned a lot about group collaboration and international political strategy,” says Jeffrey Meunier, a sophomore computer engineering major. “If all classes were like this one, I would never want to graduate from college.”

Having completed the game, each student is writing an analytical paper that integrates the experience with the principles of his or her academic discipline.

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