Play Your Role Simulation

The version of record of the paper is available at:

(Posch & Stenberg 2019) Play Your Role – Online Appendices

Please contact me if you are interested in an editable version of the materials for the cooperation simulation (scorecards, stickers, and name badges)

Abstract: International Relations is often confusing for students. IR theories are introduced as parsimonious and elegant and then systematically challenged as students learn more about detailed events. There are rules, there are norms, and states follow them until they don’t. East Asia increases these challenges because it often undermines IR theory. Simulations can provide a key means of grounding students studying international relations because they apply IR theory to real world examples – something especially important in a large lecture course. While simulations are effective tools, they often rely on strong institutional arrangements around which the rules of simulations are based. This presents a challenge for studying foreign relations in regions like East Asia, which have weaker multilateral institutions and thus no obvious template for a simulation. To overcome the challenges of weak institutionalization and subject matter difficulty, we present two alternative models of simulations tested in a large lecture course on transpacific relations. The consensus model simulates what an international summit looks like in a weakly institutionalized environment maximizing the realism of the experience for students. The cooperation model captures the motivations of states to seek international cooperation despite the complications faced in international relations maximizing the spirit of urgency that animates weakly institutionalized environments. We provide detailed instructions to adapt these models to similar courses as well as the online appendices linked above.