Statecraft Simulation Research:
- Read a multi-year study on whether or not the Statecraft Simulation is an Effective Pedagogical Tool.
- For an article discussing the effects of the Statecraft Simulation on student pacifist or hawkish attitudes towards foreign policy decision making: The statecraft simulation and foreign policy attitudes among undergraduate students
- Read about the The Statecraft Simulation’s Effect on Student Decision Making written by Dr. Chad Raymond of Salve Regina University.
- The Great Pedagogical Debate: A multiyear debate about the pedagogical effectiveness of Statecraft Simulation: Intro to IR between 3 Academics and 10 Statecraft Classes.
- As a grad student Gustavo Carvalho wrote an article critical of the effectiveness of Statecraft as a teaching tool. Virtual World Can Be Dangerous
- Professor Keller questioned Carvalho’s approach in simulation administration and setup concluding that if Carvalho had followed instructions the sim results would have been drastically different. Misusing Virtual Worlds Can Be Dangerous: A Response to Carvalho
- Professor Saiya, as an independent third party, replicated Carvahlo’s survey/research method while administering the simulation recommend in the instructor manual.How Dangerous Are Virtual Worlds Really? A Research Note on the StatecraftSimulation Debate
I use the Statecraft simulation after I have covered the cornerstone IR theories and paradigms. From my experience the simulation helps the students further absorb the theoretical material which otherwise might be overly abstract..
Professor and Director of International Studies Program
University of Alabama.
(Used in a 240 student class) – Statecraft is an engaging International Relations simulation that allows students to acquire personal experiences, which I have found helps them better relate to and understand complex concepts, such as nuclear deterrence, balancing power, and fostering cooperation though organizations. The number one complaint I hear from other professors about simulations, is the amount of work required on their part. Not Statecraft! This is a self-contained simulation that instructors enjoy as much as their students.
Washington State University
School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
I teach Foreign Policy, and Statecraft is a great way for students to actually put themselves in the position of foreign policy decision-makers. Rather than merely learning theories of decision sciences in lecture, Statecraft allows the students to experience decision-making hands-on. My lecture incorporates elements of foreign policy decision from studies in International Relations, other sub-fields of Political Science, and Psychology, and Statecraft gives students a unique opportunity that just reading and writing about materials from all these fields cannot — a real chance to grasp the dilemmas and difficulties in making decisions, as well as diplomacy and political interaction and communication between and within countries. In this sense, I think Statecraft is a must in a Foreign Policy class. Students really get into the game very quickly, so it also makes class much more interesting!
University of Utah
I used Statecraft in my large (150 person) Introduction to International Relations, and the simulation was a great hit with my students. It allowed them to apply the concepts that we were learning in class to their on-line Statecraft world and to grapple with the difficult decisions foreign policy leaders face on a daily basis. Students came away from the experience not only with an enriched understanding of international conflict and cooperation, but also with a better grasp of the nexus between domestic and international politics.More than anything, participating in Statecraft made students think critically about their own prior beliefs about international politics.It was also fun! The students got to meet one-another (a daunting task in a room of 149 other first year students), and I frequently spotted students playing Statecraft all around campus. I’m looking forward to using Statecraft again!.
Asst. Prof., Political Science (Int’l Relations)
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
I have used Statecraft for over 3 years now and have been amazed at the way it elevates engagement in the classroom. The competitive element raises new and challenging concepts for my students. Media reports, readings or lecture may occasionally bring life to international politics. This tool allows me to ride the wave of their enthusiasm when they have a ready reference point for IR concepts and dynamics. I will continue to use Statecraft as an important part of my classroom toolkit..
Assistant Professor of Political Science
I used Statecraft in my introductory International Relations course, and it was a big hit among my 150 students. Statecraft is an extremely helpful teaching tool that helps to engage students who have different ways of learning, and brings a fun element into the classroom. Not only did they get to experience IR from an entirely new perspective,they also got to know each other really welland develop a sense of camaraderie. Their Statecraft country groups turned into study groups and helped them to get more involved in the course in general. I highly recommend Statecraft!
Assistant Professor of International Relations
University of Southern California
Statecraft was an excellent addition to my international relations course.The simulation ended up appealing to every student in the course, including students from seemingly unrelated majors and backgrounds.It seemed to teach itself and the intuitive interface meant that the class was able to get involved very quickly and easily.I plan on using Statecraft each time I teach International Relations.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
St. John Fisher College
Statecraft does a great job in showing students howIR theories really work.It allowed my students to better understand abstract concepts and theories and apply them in the simulation. I would strongly recommend Statecraft to anyone teaching International Relations.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
I use Statecraft whenever I teach the Introduction to International Relations course. Statecraft has been a great teaching tool to reiterate important concepts from the text that makes the learning experience enjoyable for students. It enables greater interaction in the classroom and generates interesting debates on competing domestic and foreign policy goals. Students come away with a better understanding of the complexities and challenges of policy making. It is a very useful active learning tool that students can benefit from tremendously.
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Montana State University Billings
Statecraft takes the conventional role-playing international affairs simulation and amps it to a more intense level of student involvement and realism through the use of a virtual world simulation. Students become both players and political strategists/analysts and the more abstract lessons and concepts of international relations become concrete events, conflicts and crises and therefore Statecraft is best used in tandem with classroom-based lectures and discussions.WARNING! – Students get so caught up in the Statecraft Simulation that they may suffer withdrawal symptoms when the simulation ends!
Department of Political Science
Idaho State University
Statecraft allows students to experienceI’ve seen my students benefit greatly from playing the game, as they emerge with a much more sophisticated understanding of course concepts. It’s one of the best simulations I’ve found.
Asst. Prof., Political Science (Int’l Relations)
Sam Houston State University
I have assigned Statecraft since 2013, and am currently working on a research project about the classroom use of this simulation. Statecraft has appealed to our political science majors, but also to gamers and other majors who enjoy competition, interaction with other students, taking responsibility, planning ahead, and being held accountable. It has been especially useful here at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD), which is a Hispanic-Serving and Minority-Serving Institution badly in need of High-Impact Teaching Practices. There are many ways to adapt the game to your classroom style, or students that you have at your school, and Statecraft Help is very professional. If I had to summarize my primary takeaway from Statecraft, it would be exactly what I tell my sections, sometimes to their chagrin: “Because of Statecraft, I will never underestimate UHD students again.”
Associate Professor and Degree Coordinator of Political Science
University of Houston Downtown
I have used the Statecraft International Relations simulation in four of my IR classes in the past year and a half, and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. As a teacher, I always look for ways to make my classes as interactive as possible, and give opportunities for the students to work in groups to collaborate on assignments. Statecraft encourages students to work together and cooperate, just as the professional and political world requires them to do.
Moreover, Statecraft is another valuable tool that can help bring the concepts and ideas discussed in our lectures to life. It is a well-known fact that students learn best by applying their knowledge, and Statecraft, with all the dynamism and appeal of a video game, allows learners to do just that. However, Statecraft is more than just a game, and indeed students often take their participation in the simulation very seriously. Just like real-world politics, passion and competition often result in some surprising and unpredictable situations – alliances, betrayals, rescues and invasions, even full-blown wars! Students have always reported that they enjoy the simulation, and that it really makes them think about international relations in a practical way.
Statecraft is an excellent learning resources for the 21st century classroom, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Department of Political Science
Broward College Ecuador
Statecraft is an engaging educational tool that I used in my Introduction to International Relations course. Through Statecraft, students were able to apply otherwise abstract theoretical concepts in a fun way and it helped them understand theories’ relevance in the ‘real world’. Not only has Statecraft broadened student’s understanding of international relations, it has also given me multiple opportunities to relate theories to student’s actions in the simulation. This made lectures more engaging and concepts easier to explain. I chose to read and grade all memos and give students extensive feedback, which is optional, but other than that Statecraft basically ran itself and left me with lots of time to prepare lectures. I added several in-class ‘Statecraft Summits’ to give the different countries a platform to negotiate in person, feel tensions and come to agreements with multiple countries. Students wrote Reflection papers after the simulation ended and I was pleased to see that students indeed very much enjoyed the simulation and that it also challenged them intellectually and improved their interpersonal skills.
I most certainly will use Statecraft again in the future..
PhD student and Instructor
Kennesaw State University
Statecraft is a great way to bring in blended learning techniques into the classroom. From the instructor side, it is easy to use and low maintenance. What I like about state craft the most, is that students get the opportunity to see how the theories discussed in class play out in a hands on environment.
Department of Political Science
Statecraft accomplishes the difficult feat of simultaneously engaging student interest and exemplifying important principles of international relations theory. It provides a remarkably rich simulation of world politics that practically runs itself with no need for time-consuming instructor intervention, while still allowing teachers of more specialized courses ample opportunity for customization. I recommend Statecraft without reservation to all instructors of undergraduate international relations.
Associate Professor of Social Sciences
Los Medanos College
Statecraft is an amazing pedagogical tool that greatly enriched the Critical Security Studies course that I recently taught. Unlike video games claiming to embody international relations, Statecraft is the real deal. Concomitantly having to deal with trade, diplomacy, war, economics, domestic politics, and even tourism, students come to realize how complex international politics really are. At the same time, the game is incredibly addictive for the students. Many of mine, who displayed very little interest in the game at first, became almost obsessed with checking in on their countries so as to ensure victory. Most brilliant of all, however, is the way that my students came to feel the IR concepts that I had been teaching them. A lackluster student might not understand the security dilemma when it is taught in traditional form on the basis of abstract game theory. When, however, a neighboring state is building up army divisions in Statecraft, the student lives the Security Dilemma. It is this depth of experiential learning that makes it such a potent tool. Concepts and theories that are so very abstract in our journals and texts come to take on a life of their own in the Statecraft universe. Moreover, in the endgame, the professor can do whatever she desires. I turned my “world” into a hegemonic system by literally playing a country along with my students. As the quarter went along, we had several nuclear crises, a war of hegemonic succession, multiple iterations of both balancing and bandwagoning, a balancing failure, and an all-out nuclear war. Whether it be for a professor simply wanting to take a hands-off approach for a portion of their class, or for a professor wanting to have some fun with her students, Statecraft is an amazing platform. It’s so modular that I’m currently adapting it to teach the politics of the European Union, of all things!
PhD Candidate/Teaching Associate
Ohio State University
In modern days, college students are overwhelmed with a wide range of theories that are difficult to understand for them. Statecraft helps international relations students to understand concepts like balance of power through forming governments and building upcountries within an international system. It is a great tool which does not only teach students IR concepts, but also shapes the leaders of tomorrow in allowing them to come up with problem solutions to challenges in teams.Our IR students at California Baptist University have enjoyed Statecraft very much as it helped them grow academically and personally. It would be my hope to see Statecraft in more countries around the globe so that more students will start to enjoy thinking about tackling the problems of today and tomorrow.
Graduate Assistant, International Student Services
California Baptist University (former TA for “Introduction to International Politics”)
Student Statecraft Simulation Reviews
You know a professor has done something right when Sunday night is spent anticipating their Monday morning class. Who knew that such a valuable educational tool could be so thrillingly intense and entertaining? Though Statecraft was a fictional realm, the challenges and complexities of the game were completely relevant to the issues of modern day. This hands-on experience is unlike any other.
(Director of Central Intelligence, Zanzibar)
Statecraft was a wonderful simulation that brought the lessons of international relations to life in a fun and engaging way. I remember learning the importance of strategic alliances, the delicate balance created by Mutually Assured Destruction, and the frustrations of dealing with rogue states through competing and collaborating with my classmates. The benefits of Statecraft extended beyond the simulation as well—as Secretary of State of Geniustan, I made friendships with many of my fellow students, which I believe encouraged class participation during lecture and study groups outside of class.
(Secretary of State, Geniustan)
Statecraft was by far one of the most helpful activities that I have done in college! As a Political Science and Global Justice Studies major, International Relations is something I think about often but have had little hands on experience with. Statecraft made the concepts come to life. Many philosophies that I thought I had about international relations changed when faced with ‘real’ situations. My country met multiple times a week during the simulation and we still keep in touch through our Facebook group for the great Republic of Noiro. We always update each other when we see someone who was a member of a former enemy country! A year after I finished the class, I am still learning from Statecraft!
(President, Republic of Noiro)
The ‘diffusion of responsibility’ was an ever-present problem in the background of the game. Similar to the current international political battles over climate change, no one felt the urgent need to do their part in solving the melting of the Ice Mountain. We all thought that other states would contribute enough while our particular state could devote resources towards economic or military development. The diffusion of responsibility was also a key concept that came up again in my classes in psychology and game theory, and the Statecraft simulation helped to illustrate this academic theory in action…The strategizing didn’t stop with the end of the class period. Many groups, including my own, stayed after class for a few more minutes to plan the following week’s agenda. We chatted on instant messenger in the evenings about the intel collected from other states…The need for information about the simulation was addicting.
(President, Iberian Republic)
Statecraft was an extremely rewarding experience for me because it both reinforced concepts learned in lecture as well as bringing significant fun into the learning experience…While doing readings for class or studying for exams, I easily recognized examples that came directly from Statecraft experiences. There were instances where I saw another country convening at the library or food court and I’d spy on them to get information that I’d automatically send out in a mass text message to my country. Even my roommate, who wasn’t in the class, began getting into the experience as I talked about the current fight or issue being discussed in our UN meetings or the alliances that were being created. Statecraft was a huge factor in my interest for global policy and I learned so much in a relatively short time. It was an experience that I am so thankful I had and my education wouldn’t be the same without it.
(Director of Central Intelligence, Spartica)
Statecraft was an excellent teaching tool that supplemented an otherwise difficult to grasp concept(s). While reading about realism vs idealism…in textbooks gave general knowledge about how these respective theories should work, Statecraft ‘brings them to life’ so to speak. You can literally see every one of these theories playing out before your eyes as countries interact (or not)… I witnessed a very pacifist country build up their military alongside another pacifist country following all aspects of the security dilemma…Statecraft not only allowed students to play a role such as ‘secretary of state,’ but allowed students to actually BECOME the role. Students would start to not interact or talk to other students from different ‘evil’ countries, even if they were friends outside of the classroom…Statecraft was so captivating that I found myself sitting close to an unsuspecting group (country) at a lunch table after class while I listened in on vital military action that was to be made the next turn. This enabled my country to counter-balance with our own actions that very same turn.
It’s hard to imagine a better way to understand the implications of anarchy than trying to solve a global problem without any power to force countries to make sacrifices. Because of the format of the simulation, we saw how difficult it is to do things like help save the environment, due to the fact that costs are distributed unevenly. There wasn’t a moment involving the simulation that was not exciting. The degree to which it was enjoyable was uncharacteristic of any academic activity.
(Secretary of State, Li Gugah)
Statecraft was a great addition to the traditional lecture method. It allowed students to actually create international policy and be responsible for an appointed part of their country. Each person was given a role that would typically be represented within the real world, and provided insight into the duties and difficulties of real life jobs and situations. We met most often in our school’s hangout spot called Taylor Down Under. We’d sit and drink coffee or lattes from Java City and would plan our strategies. Our United Nations Council also met there every Wednesday night to discuss events and treaties…It was a fantastic exercise that went along well with the lectured material. It helped convince me that the major I had chosen was the right one.
(U.N. Ambassador, Zanzibar)
My most vivid memory of any college course I have taken, as of yet, is of how passionately my group debated over what actions to take against the rogue nations of ‘Statecraft.’ To say that students were engaged by Statecraft would be an understatement; students loved Statecraft. [One] concept illuminated by Statecraft was reciprocity. Reciprocity, when applied to negative actions, often creates a downward spiral of action and reaction, hurting all parties involved. Simply hearing about reciprocity, it was hard to understand how one group wouldn’t just break the cycle for the collective good. But, once the simulation started, competition and rivalry took over, and it became clear just how a downward spiral of reciprocity could take hold. Statecraft was an amazing teaching tool and I never hesitate in advising my friends to take the International Relations course. Statecraft is fun and stimulating and it illustrates concepts in International Relations that would otherwise be very difficult to fully grasp. I wish all classes could have a simulation like Statecraft.
(Secretary of Defense, Jaslan)
Participating in Statecraft is the highlight of my college career. The simulation taught me about how hard it can be for a diplomat to strike an agreement with another country…[and that] a country only has limited resources. I found myself inside and outside of class scheming and strategizing on how to lead my country to become the world’s most powerful economic powerhouse. Statecraft Simulation is a wonderful way for a student to apply the knowledge he has learned in class, and a great teaching aid for professors to provide a way to explain complex international relations terms.
(Secretary of State)
I think the most important concept that [Statecraft] brought alive to me was the idea of bureaucratic politics and compromises in decision-making. Leaders of particular factions within the government or society can influence decision-making as a result of what benefits them or their faction the most…It became clear that political decision-making is not clear-cut, but is a string of compromises…In Statecraft, if one wanted to build up the military or spend money on scientific ventures, then another area of the country could suffer, like for instance education or environment, as funds were being put somewhere else…I hope that this simulation is provided to other universities as it really is helpful in learning those foundation concepts that students of international relations need to understand.
(Domestic Affairs Adviser, Estrogia)
When you sit in class and just take notes you can find it hard to imagine concepts such as ‘group think’ actually happen to the ones that determine policies for a state everyday. However through the Statecraft simulation my own state experienced a case of group think bringing that concept into light and how it affects the decisions made by prominent political leaders. It takes you out of the classroom experience and puts you in the shoes of key decision makers that can affect Statecraft around them.
(Secretary of State, Semperfi Republic)
The concepts of Anarchy and Mirror Imaging were easier to understand after having been a part of Statecraft. On paper, they are boring terms and hard to relate to real life. In the simulation, however, they become very vivid and clear problems. Not only does interaction in the simulation help students to understand the problem that these concepts create on a global scale, but it also allows students a framework to brainstorm solutions and alternative pathways in avoiding potentially negative outcomes in their interactions with others.
Statecraft was FANTASTIC! I did this as a Freshman and it made me excited about my choice of major and college! It made the stress of politics very evident as we were trying to come up to solutions for many problems.
The Roving Bandit Project
Simulations motivate students to learn, effectively convey complicated concepts, improve a sense of rapport amongst students, enhance the classroom environment vis-à-vis the professor, and they help students empathize with the difficult decisions others have to make (Dorn 1989). Furthermore, simulations enhance student learning because they get students to use higher order thinking skills in the decision making process that the traditional class setting may not always do (Rackaway and Goertzen 2008).
Statecraft Simulations’ CEO and President, Joe Jaeger, in a Co-authored publication with Professor Nishikawa at Trinity University, studied the effectiveness and potential of simulations in soft science classrooms. Randomized testing on the effectiveness of simulations on retention and engagement in course material were conducted in a comparative politics class at Trinity University. One course topic was chosen as a focus of the sim module and students were split into two groups, those that used the simulation and those that listened only to the class lecture.
Students were quizzed the next time they were in class and then 3 weeks later. While the results of the first quiz showed that there was not a significant difference between the two groups studied, the quiz administered on the third week gave startling results. There was a dramatic difference between the two groups. Students who had used the simulation had higher retention; recalling concepts, terms, and facts clearly and confidently.
This was due to the personal engagement of the students in the simulation. Students remember feeling frustrated and having to problem solve and work through difficulties, which in the end, illuminated the exact concepts that were taught in the class room.
Trinity University later awarded a QEP Grant for the research.
Dorn, Dean S. 1989. “Simulation Games: One More Tool on the Pedagogical Shelf.” Teaching Sociology 17: 1-18.
Rackaway, Chapman and Brent J. Goertzen. 2008. Debating the Future: A Social Security Political Leadership Simulation. Journal of Political Science Education. 4:330-340.