It’s only Turn 2 and things are already getting very interesting in my world. I lectured for about half an hour on Monday, then gave my students the rest of the class period (45 minutes) for their Turn 2 simulation session. Turn 2 doesn’t actually end online until noon on Saturday, but these face-to-face sessions are invaluable for building intensity, relationships, and investment in one’s country and world.
Among this week’s developments:
* The UN is struggling with how to implement a collective security treaty to prevent anyone from taking Sapphire Island or attacking each other. Any use of force will cost all students the 5-point Global Peace Award, but Sapphire Island’s wealth (1,000 of each resource per turn) acts as a magnet for imperialist powers. I will lead my students through a discussion on the challenges of collective security in a few weeks when we get to the security part of the course; for now it’s best to let students experience these dilemmas without interfering.
* Countries harboring the Typhoon Pirates and Orion Liberation Front (OLF) are coming under pressure to shut down these groups’ bases as resource losses from these militant groups’ activities become increasingly severe each turn. The global award for wiping out terrorism is an incentive for cooperation here. Of course, the fact that these host countries receive lucrative tribute each turn from the Pirates and OLF gives them an incentive to drag their feet as long as they can.
* Stopping the melting of the Ice Mountain (and the threat of global flooding) doesn’t appear to be on countries’ radar screens yet, even though a Turn 2 news story about rising sea levels should have raised some eyebrows. This is as expected. As the news grows more dire each turn and countries begin to consider the need for action, the collective action problem will rear its ugly head.
This week we are covering foreign policy decision-making. In lecture, I am providing real-world examples of key biases such as mirror imaging, attribution biases, and groupthink, but I’m going to avoid giving Statecraft examples yet because I want my students to fall into these “traps” and experience these biases themselves (and obvious examples from past Statecraft worlds will serve as warnings). In fact, I’m considering putting off my discussion of groupthink (scheduled for tomorrow) for a month or so because students almost always experience groupthink in Statecraft–and learn a great deal from succumbing to this “decision pathology”–so I don’t want to prematurely awaken them to the dangers of group cohesion and collegiality (which are increasing rapidly as groups meet both inside and outside of class).
Student involvement so far has equaled or exceeded that of recent semesters. All country groups I sat in on yesterday were engaged in intense discussions about strategy, goals, potential allies/adversaries, etc., and several entire country groups stayed after class yesterday. Whenever I check the “chat” feature online there are numerous students signed in–and not always the same ones, which is a good sign. More to come as events unfold…