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


This can be a excerpt from Signature Pedagogies in Worldwide Relations. Get your free obtain of the ebook from E-International Relations.

This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in Worldwide Relations (IR) and introduces three various methods to lively studying, that are used to show difficult subjects within the undergraduate classroom. The primary approach is the technique sport, which is designed to encourage college students’ lively 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 eventualities. Simulations are usually impressed from sure real-life disaster and developed with a contact of leisure. The third approach is using metaphors or tales. It goals to clarify the literature on “sciences” and “strategies” within the IR as a self-discipline by way of a fictional story and using sure metaphors. The chapter first opinions current educating methods within the tutorial literature. It lists and discusses varied “sport/simulation designs” constructed by students within the discipline. Second, it introduces the three methods as a part of my signature pedagogy with examples from beforehand utilized circumstances. 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 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 job to resolve on what an IR signature pedagogy ought to appear to be. There are actually many similarities in addition to divergences on how IR is taught as a occupation the world over. Like most social science disciplines, IR training additionally has standard or conventional pedagogical methods. After summarizing my tackle the normal methods of educating IR, this chapter delves into latest and revolutionary methods. The chapter analyzes lively studying and different various practices in IR training and assesses the capability of these methods to tell my signature pedagogy.

The chapter first appears on the definition of signature pedagogy to debate how an IR signature pedagogy might 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 should be thought-about collectively when interested by 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 standard and non-conventional methods which can be utilized in IR training and gives examples from the educational literature on participatory studying practices employed by IR educators the world over. The second part discusses using three various training methods: (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 using every various approach. The chapter additionally evaluates current lively 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 current methods of educating IR as a occupation.

Signature Pedagogies and IR Schooling

The IR self-discipline is kind of wealthy in content material. Accordingly, the curricula of IR diploma applications comprise a wide range of subjects and programs. The tendency in most IR undergraduate applications is to begin 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 varied types of theoretical, historic, and methodological subjects to equip college students with a toolbox to research world politics. After the knowledge-base is ready up with required programs, college students are supplied a choice of issue-specific programs relying on the experience of professors inrespective departments. Required programs are principally comparable in lots of departments the world over, but the in depth scope of the time period IR often leads to a picturesque scene of varied elective programs in numerous IR departments. There are not 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 methods to set them. This unbounded (or multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary) nature of IR gives an essential maneuvering capability to educators of their job 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 explicit professions” (Shulman 2005, 52). Every discipline develops signature pedagogies that educators use to show what they suppose are basic necessities of their particular occupation. Certainly, each occupation has its personal signature pedagogy the place “novices are instructed in important points of the three basic dimensions {of professional} work – to suppose, to carry out, and to act with integrity” (Shulman 2005, 52). These basic 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 essential facet that educators want to consider are the abilities and data to switch within the class to get college students prepared their careers. This requires us to resolve what IR as a occupation means. Right here, the above-mentioned traits of the self-discipline complicates issues as graduates of IR diploma applications are usually 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 most important and core subjects as a toolbox and go away it as much as college students to resolve their space of experience. What we educate on the core and past turns into fairly essential as we let the scholar assemble their occupation on the finish. Concerning 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 data reasonably than what content material they educate (Lüdert 2016, 1).

IR training, like many of the different social science disciplines, comprises conventional strategies in fact design, analysis, and in-class actions. Conventional strategies usually observe comparable routines:

  1. Design a syllabus that comprises 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 based mostly on these readings.
  4. Add some scholar participation part (attendance, single or group shows).
  5. Consider efficiency by means of exams and written paper assignments.

On this conventional method, the diploma of information and ability switch within the class depends on the educator’s efficiency and her/his ability in utilizing classroom know-how. Certainly, training methods are considerable and are often based mostly on the creativity of the educator. New and revolutionary approaches have additionally been developed over time. Particularly as technological capabilities have elevated, students have began to search for other ways of transferring data and abilities to college students. One purpose of those revolutionary approaches has been growing scholar participation and designing extra interactive in-class and off-class routines. Right here, the subjects are taught by means of a set of actions to coach college students by way of lively participation. Energetic studying methods have more and more change into an essential part 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 various kinds of actions that encourage reflection, as a way to promote lively pondering” (Alves, Silva, and Barbosa 2019, 1). The educator makes use of novel approaches, together with simulations, video games, case research, and different revolutionary methods 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 steadiness of this shift between lecturer and coordinator is decided by the educator’s personal desire and educating model, creativity, abilities, and institutional and technical capabilities.

The most typical approach is using simulations within the classroom. The educational literature provides considerable 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 varied IR subjects, together with worldwide human rights (Killie 2002), peacekeeping (Shaw 2004), diplomacy and the UN (Chasek 2005), worldwide regulation (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 varied IR ideas, together with “diplomacy, two-level video games, worldwide regulation, human rights, and group choice making.” Chasek (2005) provides a disaster simulation based mostly on multi-lateral diplomacy, the place individuals 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 Based mostly Studying (PBL)” methods to show worldwide regulation, “during which college students assumed roles in a mock warfare crimes trial.” Within the mock trial, the creator 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 deciphering and making use of worldwide regulation,” and (3) bolster scholar curiosity within the matter (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, collection, and common 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 means of such approaches, IR educators each purpose to encourage scholar participation and make it simpler for college students to grasp difficult subjects in IR.

Educating Difficult IR Matters: 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 subjects by means of metaphors and real-life examples. Every approach, as will probably be outlined on this part, has benefits and downsides. Right here, I discover it helpful to group these methods into three educating approaches: (1) technique video games, (2) disaster simulations, and (3) storification. These methods help educators in educating a wide range of advanced subjects. For example, 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 abilities in negotiation, battle decision, and coordinating summit conferences, and storification to show philosophy of science debates in IR principle.

The primary approach, technique video games, has a selected goal: to be taught and educate IR in an entertaining method (See, as an illustration, Thomas 2002; Freitas 2006; Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006). A method sport will be outlined as a educating approach that’s used to clarify and introduce basic ideas in IR, similar to safety and international 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 trainer. 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 individuals to one another) and as brief, entertaining breaks between lecture weeks in course design and syllabi. In my courses, I usually want 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 individuals symbolize sure actors and work together with one another based on pre-determined guidelines. After letting individuals play this turn-based interactive sport, the educator can cowl a wide range of subjects in IR, similar to independence and sovereignty, advanced interdependence, safety dilemma, collective motion dilemma, and others. An essential facet right here is to watch how the individuals work together with one another all through the turns of the sport as every particular spherical of the sport with completely different individuals uncovers fascinating 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 brief period of time. Since there’s a restricted variety of choice and motion options for the individuals, the sport will begin to repeat itself after a number of turns, which diminishes the leisure issue for each individuals and the educator. Second, not like simulations, in technique video games the educator’s position is extra lively as she/he should preserve individuals on the transfer and lively due to the time-limit. Third, the appliance of those video games must be fastidiously designed to make it each participating and simple to understand. It must be designed virtually and never require superior prior data, lengthy readings, or lectures to arrange the individuals. Final however not the least, the technique sport must be adjusted in artistic and imaginative methods to be related to the scholar inhabitants. For instance, the educator might change foreign money denominations to “York Liras” (reasonably than {dollars} or euros), embody likelihood strikes within the sport (like dice-rolling or coin-flipping to resolve religion), or might use imaginary nation names, similar to “Kolombistan, Tartartolia” (reasonably than actual nation names). Adjusting the sport in these methods helps preserve college students actively engaged reasonably than centered on being overly reasonable 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 beneficial properties) 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 methods to assist 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 is perhaps utilized sometimes all through the semester to consolidate and consider what data has been transferred to the scholars. In line with my expertise, they function nice icebreakers, growing the self-confidence of the scholars by letting them know one another and really feel extra comfy to take part in in-class actions all through the semester. This method is extra appropriate to early-period, junior college students, who don’t have preliminary data of the sphere or subjects to be lined.

The second approach, disaster simulation, is often based mostly 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 based mostly on a situation to create a state of affairs impressed from actual life, which is used to coach, give expertise to, and inform individuals of the possible habits options to resolve worldwide political crises and conflicts. It is rather helpful, as there are various circumstances in IR that may be simulated on this approach (the Chilly Battle, the First and Second World Battle, 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 situation is commonly created by an educator who’s an professional on this space of analysis. Actual-life crises are employed (1) to show particular matter areas, similar to causes and causes for warfare and battle, and (2) as an example and let individuals expertise how troublesome it could change into for practitioners within the discipline (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 reasonable as attainable and leisure shouldn’t be essentially a consideration. Nonetheless, in technique video games there’s a cautious steadiness between educating and leisure, which requires extra creativeness and creativity. As well as, simulations purpose to switch expertise to the individuals by means of illustrating the method of disaster administration whereas technique video games principally purpose to show basic ideas.

Simulations have their very own strict guidelines, however they don’t seem to be carved in stone. For example, if the simulation is ready to resolve battle, individuals might not have the choice to resort to violence (declare warfare) till a sure flip comes. Nonetheless, these guidelines are usually not as mechanical as these of the technique video games. Since simulations take longer (starting from half a day, a complete day, a few days, and even longer), the educator might let individuals resolve 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 sometimes stricter and fewer fluid. Certainly, in simulations the results of crisis-management or conflict-resolution processes are left to the individuals to resolve. For example, in one of many circumstances, I used to be anticipating the individuals to return to a summit and resolve their variations there. Nonetheless, it was a shock for me to see the individuals revealed that they signed a secret treaty as a substitute of utilizing open dialogue channels. This turned out to be an fascinating instance on what will be achieved by leaving some house for the creativity of the individuals. I took it as an encouragement for growing college students’ participation through the movement of the simulation and for leaving more room to the individuals by letting them to provide you with various extra artistic programs of motion. In comparison with technique video games, I feel simulations give the educator an elevated maneuvering capability each by way of content material and inspiring individuals involvement.

Sometimes, simulations are based mostly on a typical design that features:

  1. Creating groups based on the category dimension and variety of individuals
  2. Figuring out the variety of turns and size based mostly on the allotted time
  3. Establishing a communication platform, similar to a roundtable that individuals use as a summit to debate their variations
  4. Getting ready and distributing a technique doc for every staff at first of the sport that the individuals use a tenet
  5. Establishing a world media staff by means of which individuals obtain information about one another
  6. Beginning the simulation, monitoring the turn-based movement, and letting the individuals resolve the battle

The educator usually offers info to the individuals earlier than the simulation begins, displays the movement of the simulation, assesses the simulation on the finish, and covers related subjects afterwards. As soon as the small print of this simulation design are established by the educator, it turns into simpler to put in writing an IR disaster simulation on any matter in worldwide politics. Whereas eventualities and minor particulars change throughout completely different simulations, there are particular widespread traits as nicely. First, simulations often take longer than different methods. For the reason that options are usually not fixed for individuals, the simulations don’t fall into repetition after a few turns like these in technique video games. Second, the primary purpose of simulations is to create a sensible situation.

Disaster simulations are usually not video games, they’re deliberately designed with the purpose of transferring reasonable experiences from the IR occupation. Final however not least, disaster simulations want substantial preparation and prior data of the subject. Educators usually must assign selective readings to individuals, clarify guidelines intimately, and allocate enough time for individuals to arrange for the simulation.

Simulations require an extended time for preparation and are finest used to teach senior college students who’ve prior data 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 might want 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 points 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 achieve a typical 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 position of communication and worldwide media, and the position of worldwide establishments in world politics. The educator must observe the simulation fastidiously and take notes of the subjects 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 closing evaluation to attach her/his observations through the simulation with the data she/he intends to switch to the scholars.

Lastly, storification, is a way that I take advantage of to show science and strategies in IR to undergraduate college students with no prior data (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 residing in two distinct neighborhoods, their completely different life and the occasions occurring after their first encounter. The story begins by describing life in Rationalia. Residents of Rationalia have fairly comparable life and each day routines the place they assemble and dwell in very comparable buildings and homes. Then the story continues with residents of Reflectia, who dwell in very completely different circumstances. Reflectians don’t have comparable homes, routines, or priorities however take pleasure in 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 big 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 brief story, I ask the scholars to take a position and talk about the metaphors within the story. For example, 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 Battle, and different metaphors that I inject into the story. When this system is mixed with creativity, and prior readings on the subject, it helps the scholar perceive and bear in mind the discussions made within the classroom. Similar to using common collection, motion pictures, and novels, using storification and metaphors additionally has the potential to assist educators simplify the subjects and switch data to their college students.

I take advantage of this system to switch data of advanced theoretical subjects in IR to college students by means of simplifying and utilizing metaphors. Storification extremely is dependent upon the creativity of the educator. I counsel that, earlier than making a story, the educator suppose whether or not the metaphors she/he makes use of within the story actually symbolize the data she/he intends to switch to the scholars. Based mostly on the suggestions that I get from the scholars, on sure events I noticed that I’ve been telling “The Story of Two Villages: Rationalia and Reflectia” in a manner that directs the scholars to assist 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 assist 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, fastidiously assessing what data has been transferred to the scholars is a vital facet of this system. If the course has studying materials on advanced theoretical subjects, the trainer might ask the scholars to learn the fabric earlier than telling the story; then, after telling the story in school, give college students extra 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 examine if she/he transferred any unintended positions to the scholars.


The abundance of different pedagogical methods helps educators formulate revolutionary, 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 method has benefits and downsides in educating and studying IR. One of many shared goals of the approaches mentioned above is to switch data and expertise to the participant by means of a simplified and entertaining course of.

There are a few essential points to recollect whereas using these methods: (1) the educator might miss some essential particulars of the subject that she/he needs to cowl whereas making an attempt to make use of these methods, and (2) perhaps extra importantly, the educator might switch the improper message to the individuals. Each points require the educator to fastidiously 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 might fairly simply switch unintended messages to individuals 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 nations within the simulations. That is particularly so when the participant doesn’t have prior data of the subject. Subsequently, I want utilizing these methods after letting college students perceive the fundamentals of the course (often 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 methods are extra appropriate for explaining sure subjects 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 data and expertise on the finish of the course. Storification will be unfold all through the course relying on the creativity of the educator. I take advantage of tales and metaphors as dialogue starters simply after lectures and different instances when essential.

The training methods mentioned on this chapter are fairly helpful, as their construction is open for adjustment, their design will be up to date, and their software is open to variation. Nonetheless, whereas these methods encourage lively 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. Concerning the abundance of different training methods within the present state of the literature, it’s a nice time to begin discussing signature pedagogies in IR.


[1] See additionally varied different simulation, drawback based mostly studying and lively 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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