Home News The Use of Metaphors, Simulations, and Video games to Educate Worldwide Relations

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


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

This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in Worldwide Relations (IR) and introduces three various strategies to energetic studying, that are used to show difficult matters within the undergraduate classroom. The primary method is the technique recreation, which is designed to encourage college students’ energetic participation and assist them grasp key ideas. The second method is a simulation that goals to let college students expertise a hypothetical worldwide disaster as representatives of states and perceive difficulties in battle decision situations. Simulations are usually impressed from sure real-life disaster and developed with a contact of leisure. The third method is the usage of metaphors or tales. It goals to elucidate the literature on “sciences” and “strategies” within the IR as a self-discipline through a fictional story and the usage of sure metaphors. The chapter first evaluations current instructing strategies within the tutorial literature. It lists and discusses varied “recreation/simulation designs” constructed by students within the discipline. Second, it introduces the three strategies as a part of my signature pedagogy with examples from beforehand utilized instances. This half particulars the design of every method in a step-by-step format to make them replicable for readers. Third, the chapter discusses the applicability of every method. 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 the best way to make the most of every method.

IR is a content-rich self-discipline with no clear-cut disciplinary boundaries. This variation and breadth make it a difficult process to resolve on what an IR signature pedagogy ought to seem like. There are definitely many similarities in addition to divergences on how IR is taught as a career the world over. Like most social science disciplines, IR training additionally has standard or conventional pedagogical strategies. After summarizing my tackle the normal methods of instructing IR, this chapter delves into latest and modern strategies. The chapter analyzes energetic studying and different various practices in IR training and assesses the capability of these strategies 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 train as IR and the way we train it are intently associated. The part argues that these two questions must be thought of collectively when excited about IR as a career. Accordingly, whereas making an evaluation of the previous query of what we train as IR, the primary part connects it with the latter query of how we train IR. The part discusses each standard and non-conventional strategies which might 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 the usage of three various training strategies: (1) technique video games, (2) simulations, and (3) storification. The second part additionally shares my very own instructing and studying experiences, in addition to strategies on the usage of every various method. The chapter additionally evaluates current energetic studying practices by discussing some great benefits of every method whereas offering strategies for overcoming sure disadvantages. It concludes with a dialogue of how my instructing approaches can contribute to an IR signature pedagogy extra broadly. By doing so, this chapter goals so as to add to current methods of instructing IR as a career.

Signature Pedagogies and IR Schooling

The IR self-discipline is kind of wealthy in content material. Accordingly, the curricula of IR diploma packages include quite a lot of matters and programs. The tendency in most IR undergraduate packages is to start out with sure core introductory social and political science programs within the first years of research after which delve into field-specific ones for the ultimate years. IR-specific programs embrace varied types of theoretical, historic, and methodological matters to equip college students with a toolbox to investigate 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 largely comparable in lots of departments the world over, but the intensive scope of the time period IR often ends in a picturesque scene of varied elective programs in numerous IR departments. There aren’t any clear-cut boundaries of the IR self-discipline. Certainly, everybody understands that the self-discipline has boundaries, however most of them are not sure about the place these boundaries are or the best way to set them. This unbounded (or multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary) nature of IR gives an necessary maneuvering capability to educators of their process of instructing IR. This maneuvering capability impacts each what we train as IR and the way we train it; therefore, each direct us to open up a dialogue on signature pedagogies.

Signature pedagogies are “forms of instructing that arrange the elemental methods wherein future practitioners are educated for his or her new professions… These are the types of instruction that leap to thoughts after we first take into consideration the preparation of members of specific professions” (Shulman 2005, 52). Every discipline develops signature pedagogies that educators use to show what they assume are elementary necessities of their particular career. Certainly, each career has its personal signature pedagogy the place “novices are instructed in vital facets of the three elementary dimensions {of professional} work – to assume, to carry out, and to act with integrity” (Shulman 2005, 52). These elementary dimensions are intently related to what we train and the way we train the ideas and content material we need to train. Within the IR self-discipline, an necessary side 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 career means. Right here, the above-mentioned traits of the self-discipline complicates issues as graduates of IR diploma packages are usually not directed in the direction of a single career. What we do, as a substitute of directing college students in the direction of a single career, is usually to switch major and core matters as a toolbox and go away it as much as college students to resolve their space of experience. What we train on the core and past turns into fairly necessary as we let the coed assemble their career on the finish. Relating to signature pedagogies, what we train is adopted by how we train it. Certainly, as has been famous, signature pedagogies are extra involved with how educators switch data fairly than what content material they train (Lüdert 2016, 1).

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

  1. Design a syllabus that accommodates 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 primarily based on these readings.
  4. Add some pupil participation element (attendance, single or group displays).
  5. Consider efficiency by means of exams and written paper assignments.

On this conventional strategy, the diploma of data and ability switch within the class relies on the educator’s efficiency and her/his ability in utilizing classroom know-how. Certainly, training strategies are considerable and are often primarily based on the creativity of the educator. New and modern 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 expertise to college students. One purpose of those modern approaches has been growing pupil participation and designing extra interactive in-class and off-class routines. Right here, the matters are taught by means of a set of actions to coach college students through energetic participation. Lively studying strategies have more and more grow to be an necessary element of signature pedagogies in IR.

Lively studying is outlined as “an training course of that takes place by means of pupil engagement with the content material by means of various kinds of actions that encourage reflection, to be able to promote energetic pondering” (Alves, Silva, and Barbosa 2019, 1). The educator makes use of novel approaches, together with simulations, video games, case research, and different modern strategies to encourage and monitor pupil participatory studying. The method shifts the educator from being mere lecturer in the direction of a studying coordinator. After all, the stability of this shift between lecturer and coordinator is set by the educator’s personal choice and instructing fashion, creativity, expertise, and institutional and technical capabilities.

The commonest method is the usage of simulations within the classroom. The tutorial literature gives 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 instructing varied IR matters, together with worldwide human rights (Killie 2002), peacekeeping (Shaw 2004), diplomacy and the UN (Chasek 2005), worldwide legislation (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 organize a draft worldwide human rights treaty to simulate worldwide negotiations and encourage pupil curiosity on varied IR ideas, together with “diplomacy, two-level video games, worldwide legislation, human rights, and group resolution making.” Chasek (2005) gives a disaster simulation primarily based on multi-lateral diplomacy, the place contributors 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)” strategies to show worldwide legislation, “wherein college students assumed roles in a mock struggle crimes trial.” Within the mock trial, the writer makes use of a real-life case and designs a hypothetical trial to (1) deepen pupil understanding of the fabric, (2) give :hands-on expertise within the difficulties related to decoding and making use of worldwide legislation,” and (3) bolster pupil curiosity within the subject (Ambrosio 2006, 160). Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke (2006) use a household card recreation “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, sequence, and well-liked motion pictures just like the Lord of the Rings (Ruane and James 2008; 2012), Harry Potter (Nexon and Neumann 2006), Recreation of Thrones (Younger and Ko 2019), Star Trek and Star Wars (Dyson 2015; Campbell and Gokcek 2019), and others (Weber 2014; 2010; 2001). By way of such approaches, IR educators each purpose to encourage pupil participation and make it simpler for college students to know difficult matters in IR.

Instructing Difficult IR Subjects: Three Options

Lively studying instruments are utilized by educators to (1) let pupil take part in crisis-like conditions and have them expertise the sensible facet of the career and (2) assist pupil perceive summary theoretical and philosophical matters by means of metaphors and real-life examples. Every method, as will likely be outlined on this part, has benefits and drawbacks. Right here, I discover it helpful to group these strategies into three instructing approaches: (1) technique video games, (2) disaster simulations, and (3) storification. These strategies help educators in instructing quite a lot of complicated matters. As an 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 expertise in negotiation, battle decision, and coordinating summit conferences, and storification to show philosophy of science debates in IR idea.

The primary method, technique video games, has a particular objective: to study and train IR in an entertaining method (See, as an illustration, Thomas 2002; Freitas 2006; Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006). A technique recreation may be outlined as a instructing method that’s used to elucidate and introduce elementary ideas in IR, akin to safety and overseas coverage, in a clean and swift method. It’s clean 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 contributors to one another) and as brief, entertaining breaks between lecture weeks in course design and syllabi. In my courses, I usually desire 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 contributors signify sure actors and work together with one another based on pre-determined guidelines. After letting contributors play this turn-based interactive recreation, the educator can cowl quite a lot of matters in IR, akin to independence and sovereignty, complicated interdependence, safety dilemma, collective motion dilemma, and others. An necessary side right here is to observe how the contributors work together with one another all through the turns of the sport as every particular spherical of the sport with completely different contributors 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 resolution and motion options for the contributors, the sport will begin to repeat itself after a number of turns, which diminishes the leisure issue for each contributors and the educator. Second, not like simulations, in technique video games the educator’s function is extra energetic as she/he should preserve contributors on the transfer and energetic due to the time-limit. Third, the appliance of those video games needs to be rigorously designed to make it each partaking and straightforward to understand. It needs to be designed virtually and never require superior prior data, lengthy readings, or lectures to organize the contributors. Final however not the least, the technique recreation needs to be adjusted in inventive and imaginative methods to be related to the coed inhabitants. For instance, the educator might change foreign money denominations to “York Liras” (fairly than {dollars} or euros), embrace likelihood strikes within the recreation (like dice-rolling or coin-flipping to resolve religion), or might use imaginary nation names, akin to “Kolombistan, Tartartolia” (fairly than actual nation names). Adjusting the sport in these methods helps preserve college students actively engaged fairly than centered on being overly sensible and off.

Technique video games are extremely helpful in instructing key ideas of IR (e.g., anarchy, collective motion dilemma, battle vs. cooperation, absolute vs. relative positive aspects) 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 strategies to help 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 could be utilized often 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 system is extra appropriate to early-period, junior college students, who shouldn’t have preliminary data of the sector or matters to be lined.

The second method, disaster simulation, is often primarily based 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 method primarily based on a situation to create a scenario impressed from actual life, which is used to coach, give expertise to, and inform contributors of the possible habits options to resolve worldwide political crises and conflicts. It is extremely helpful, as there are a lot of instances in IR that may be simulated on this method (the Chilly Conflict, the First and Second World Conflict, the Abkhazia Disaster between Russia and Georgia, the Financial Disaster of Greece and the European Union, the institution of the European Union, and so on.). The situation is commonly created by an educator who’s an skilled on this space of analysis. Actual-life crises are employed (1) to show particular subject areas, akin to causes and causes for struggle and battle, and (2) as an example and let contributors expertise how tough it could grow to be 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 sensible as attainable and leisure shouldn’t be essentially a consideration. Nonetheless, in technique video games there’s a cautious stability between instructing and leisure, which requires extra creativeness and creativity. As well as, simulations purpose to switch expertise to the contributors by means of illustrating the method of disaster administration whereas technique video games largely purpose to show elementary ideas.

Simulations have their very own strict guidelines, however they don’t seem to be carved in stone. As an example, if the simulation is ready to resolve battle, contributors might not have the choice to resort to violence (declare struggle) 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 contributors resolve the best way to cope with the scenario 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 contributors to resolve. As an example, in one of many instances, I used to be anticipating the contributors to return to a summit and resolve their variations there. Nonetheless, it was a shock for me to see the contributors 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 may be achieved by leaving some area for the creativity of the contributors. I took it as an encouragement for growing college students’ participation through the move of the simulation and for leaving extra space to the contributors by letting them to provide you with various extra inventive programs of motion. In comparison with technique video games, I feel simulations give the educator an elevated maneuvering capability each when it comes to content material and inspiring contributors involvement.

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

  1. Creating groups based on the category measurement and variety of contributors
  2. Figuring out the variety of turns and size primarily based on the allotted time
  3. Establishing a communication platform, akin to a roundtable that contributors use as a summit to debate their variations
  4. Getting ready and distributing a method doc for every crew originally of the sport that the contributors use a suggestion
  5. Establishing a global media crew by means of which contributors obtain information about one another
  6. Beginning the simulation, monitoring the turn-based move, and letting the contributors resolve the battle

The educator usually provides data to the contributors earlier than the simulation begins, displays the move of the simulation, assesses the simulation on the finish, and covers related matters afterwards. As soon as the main points of this simulation design are established by the educator, it turns into simpler to jot down an IR disaster simulation on any subject in worldwide politics. Whereas situations and minor particulars change throughout completely different simulations, there are specific widespread traits as nicely. First, simulations often take longer than different strategies. Because the options are usually not fixed for contributors, 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 practical situation.

Disaster simulations are usually not video games, they’re deliberately designed with the purpose of transferring sensible experiences from the IR career. Final however not least, disaster simulations want substantial preparation and prior data of the subject. Educators typically have to assign selective readings to contributors, clarify guidelines intimately, and allocate ample time for contributors to organize for the simulation.

Simulations require an extended time for preparation and are greatest 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 desire to organize extra detailed directions and allocate extra time for preparation. Disaster simulations are nice methods to let college students expertise IR as a career by means of various views. College students expertise many facets of IR as a career 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 succeed in 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 function of communication and worldwide media, and the function of worldwide establishments in world politics. The educator must observe the simulation rigorously and take notes of the matters to judge on the finish of the simulation. The analysis on the finish of the simulation is of key significance for the reason that educator makes a remaining evaluation to attach her/his observations through the simulation with the data she/he intends to switch to the scholars.

Lastly, storification, is a method that I exploit 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 purpose 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 folks residing in two distinct neighborhoods, their completely different life and the occasions taking place after their first encounter. The story begins by describing life in Rationalia. Residents of Rationalia have fairly comparable life and day by 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 shouldn’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 getting 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. As an example, the towers of Rationalia representing the rationalist analysis packages, the large wall-representing disciplinary boundaries in IR, the earthquake representing the tip of the Chilly Conflict, 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 coed perceive and keep in mind the discussions made within the classroom. Identical to the usage of well-liked sequence, motion pictures, and novels, the usage of storification and metaphors additionally has the potential to assist educators simplify the matters and switch data to their college students.

I exploit this system to switch data of complicated theoretical matters in IR to college students by means of simplifying and utilizing metaphors. Storification extremely depends upon the creativity of the educator. I counsel that, earlier than making a story, the educator assume whether or not the metaphors she/he makes use of within the story really signify 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 spotted that I’ve been telling “The Story of Two Villages: Rationalia and Reflectia” in a means that directs the scholars to help 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 help 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, rigorously assessing what data has been transferred to the scholars is a vital side of this system. If the course has studying materials on complicated theoretical matters, the trainer might ask the scholars to learn the fabric earlier than telling the story; then, after telling the story at school, give college students extra time to consider the studying and assess the switch of data by means of dialogue of the metaphors used within the story. Thereby, the educator can assess the diploma of data switch and verify if she/he transferred any unintended positions to the scholars.


The abundance of other pedagogical strategies helps educators formulate modern, participatory, and environment friendly methods of instructing IR as a career. Certainly, the usefulness of every method depends upon how the educator designs her/his training profile and what she/he understands as IR signature pedagogy. My expertise is that every strategy has benefits and drawbacks in instructing 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 necessary facets to recollect whereas using these strategies: (1) the educator might miss some necessary particulars of the subject that she/he needs to cowl whereas making an attempt to make use of these strategies, and (2) possibly extra importantly, the educator might switch the unsuitable message to the contributors. Each facets require the educator to rigorously assess the diploma of data and expertise transferred to the participant and fill within the gaps and proper data if recognized. My expertise is that the educator might fairly simply switch unintended messages to contributors turning them into fanatic supporters of a particular mind-set in IR (realists, liberals, rationalists, and so on.) or nationalist supporters of one of many international locations within the simulations. That is particularly so when the participant doesn’t have prior data of the subject. Due to this fact, I desire utilizing these strategies 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 strategies are extra appropriate for explaining sure matters 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 pupil data and expertise on the finish of the course. Storification may be unfold all through the course relying on the creativity of the educator. I exploit tales and metaphors as dialogue starters simply after lectures and different instances when essential.

The training strategies mentioned on this chapter are fairly helpful, as their construction is open for adjustment, their design may be up to date, and their software is open to variation. Nonetheless, whereas these strategies encourage energetic 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 career. Relating to the abundance of other training strategies within the present state of the literature, it’s a nice time to start out discussing signature pedagogies in IR.


[1] See additionally varied different simulation, drawback primarily based studying and energetic 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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