Turn 3 Thoughts

This week was Turn 3 of Statecraft for my international relations students.  Here are some lessons/highlights from this week:

1) Don’t forget the 95-question test bank is there to make your life easier.  I gave my first exam (of three) on Wednesday and I used several questions from the Statecraft test bank (just click on the “test bank” on your professor screen).  The questions are organized by topic, and you can just copy and paste into your exam/quiz those you want to use.

2) Remind students of the importance of Big Projects early in the simulation.  Big Projects are powerful structures that only one country can own; if more than one country wants a certain project, the project goes to the highest bidder.  These Projects have been designed to create uneven development that will produce power imbalances among the world’s countries and generate a host of interesting real-world dynamics.  Some of the most powerful Big Projects–which someone should build by Turn 3 if your students are paying attention–include the CIA (free intelligence data on all countries), the National Railroad Network (doubles output of gold, food, and steel), Moon Launch (two free technologies), and the Einstein Research Lab (three free technologies).  When Statecraft used to be “paper and pencil” I would have countries bid on Big Projects in class so these powerful structures were always front and center in students’ consciousness.  Now that bidding is entirely automated through the Ebay-like system, I think they sometimes slip “under the radar.”  We’ll work on making these more prominent online (perhaps through weekly messages highlighting unpurchased Big Projects’ effects), but it wouldn’t hurt to remind your students during the first few turns that Big Projects are game changers and they need to be thinking about acquiring them.

3) Let chaos happen.  This week one student accidentally sent their simulation memo to the entire world, and one country accidentally (they claim) gave orders for their military units to attack a neighboring country.  The inadvertent attack plan was quickly canceled (no actual movement of military units can happen until the turn ends–Saturday morning for my class).  But Statecraft allows countries to see planned invasions of their territory on the map, so the damage was done and accusations started to fly via the messaging system until the mistake became clear and some officials apologized (others appear to be holding grudges about the words that were exchanged).  As the instructor you may be tempted to step in and clarify misunderstandings, but incomplete information and misperceptions are common in world politics and they should be in your Statecraft world as well.  Weekly rumors–some of which are true, some of which are false–are randomly sent to students via the “Statecraft Rumor Blog,” and this helps to produce a realistic informational environment.  Let uncertainties multiply and watch what happens (then debrief your students when the simulation is over on the effects of these misperceptions–usually the implications are substantial).

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