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

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 e-book from E-International Relations.

This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in Worldwide Relations (IR) and introduces three various methods to energetic studying, that are used to show difficult matters within the undergraduate classroom. The primary approach is the technique sport, which is designed to encourage college students’ energetic 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 situations. 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 through a fictional story and using sure metaphors. The chapter first opinions current educating methods within the tutorial literature. It lists and discusses numerous “sport/simulation designs” constructed by students within the area. Second, it introduces the three methods as a part of my signature pedagogy with examples from beforehand utilized instances. 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 how one can 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 definitely 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 standard methods of educating IR, this chapter delves into current and revolutionary methods. The chapter analyzes energetic studying and different various practices in IR training and assesses the capability of these methods to tell my signature pedagogy.

The chapter first seems to be on the definition of signature pedagogy to debate how an IR signature pedagogy could look. Right here, I emphasize that what we train as IR and the way we train it are carefully associated. The part argues that these two questions have to be thought of collectively when excited about IR as a occupation. 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 methods which can be utilized in IR training and supplies examples from the tutorial 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 energetic 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 sort of wealthy in content material. Accordingly, the curricula of IR diploma packages include a wide range 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 numerous types of theoretical, historic, and methodological matters 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 number of issue-specific programs relying on the experience of professors inrespective departments. Required programs are principally related in lots of departments the world over, but the intensive scope of the time period IR often leads to 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 how one can set them. This unbounded (or multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary) nature of IR supplies an vital maneuvering capability to educators of their job of educating 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 “sorts of educating that set up the basic methods by which 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 area develops signature pedagogies that educators use to show what they assume are elementary necessities of their particular occupation. Certainly, each occupation has its personal signature pedagogy the place “novices are instructed in crucial elements 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 carefully 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 vital 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 occupation means. Right here, the above-mentioned traits of the self-discipline complicates issues as graduates of IR diploma packages should 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 mostly to switch fundamental 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 vital as we let the coed assemble their occupation on the finish. Concerning 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 quite than what content material they train (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 comply with related 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 element (attendance, single or group displays).
  5. Consider efficiency via exams and written paper assignments.

On this conventional strategy, the diploma of information and talent switch within the class relies on the educator’s efficiency and her/his talent in utilizing classroom expertise. Certainly, training methods are ample 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 alternative routes of transferring data and expertise to college students. One intention of those revolutionary approaches has been growing scholar participation and designing extra interactive in-class and off-class routines. Right here, the matters are taught via a set of actions to coach college students through energetic participation. Lively studying methods have more and more turn into an vital element of signature pedagogies in IR.

Lively studying is outlined as “an training course of that takes place via scholar engagement with the content material via several types of actions that encourage reflection, with the intention 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 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 choice and educating type, creativity, expertise, and institutional and technical capabilities.

The most typical approach is using simulations within the classroom. The tutorial literature gives ample 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 numerous IR matters, together with worldwide human rights (Killie 2002), peacekeeping (Shaw 2004), diplomacy and the UN (Chasek 2005), worldwide regulation (Ambrosio 2006), theories of worldwide political economic 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] Significantly, Killie (2002, 271–272) asks college students to arrange a draft worldwide human rights treaty to simulate worldwide negotiations and encourage scholar curiosity on numerous IR ideas, together with “diplomacy, two-level video games, worldwide regulation, human rights, and group determination making.” Chasek (2005) gives a disaster simulation based mostly 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 “Downside Primarily based Studying (PBL)” methods to show worldwide regulation, “by which college students assumed roles in a mock battle crimes trial.” Within the mock trial, the writer 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 economic system and improve 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 standard films 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 intention to encourage scholar participation and make it simpler for college students to grasp difficult matters in IR.

Instructing Difficult IR Matters: Three Options

Lively studying instruments are utilized by educators to (1) let scholar take part in crisis-like conditions and have them expertise the sensible aspect of the occupation and (2) assist scholar perceive summary theoretical and philosophical matters via metaphors and real-life examples. Every approach, as might be outlined on this part, has benefits and drawbacks. 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 complicated matters. 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 expertise 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 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 sport could be outlined as a educating approach that’s used to clarify and introduce elementary ideas in IR, reminiscent of safety and overseas 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 contributors to one another) and as quick, entertaining breaks between lecture weeks in course design and syllabi. In my courses, I usually favor 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 symbolize sure actors and work together with one another in response to pre-determined guidelines. After letting contributors play this turn-based interactive sport, the educator can cowl a wide range of matters in IR, reminiscent of independence and sovereignty, complicated interdependence, safety dilemma, collective motion dilemma, and others. An vital 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 totally 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 quick period of time. Since there’s a restricted variety of determination 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, in contrast to simulations, in technique video games the educator’s position is extra energetic as she/he should hold contributors on the transfer and energetic due to the time-limit. Third, the appliance of those video games ought to be fastidiously designed to make it each participating and straightforward to know. It ought to be designed virtually and never require superior prior data, lengthy readings, or lectures to arrange the contributors. Final however not the least, the technique sport ought to be adjusted in inventive and imaginative methods to be related to the coed inhabitants. For instance, the educator could change forex denominations to “York Liras” (quite than {dollars} or euros), embrace likelihood strikes within the sport (like dice-rolling or coin-flipping to resolve religion), or could use imaginary nation names, reminiscent of “Kolombistan, Tartartolia” (quite than actual nation names). Adjusting the sport in these methods helps hold college students actively engaged quite than centered on being overly real looking and off.

Technique video games are extremely helpful in educating key ideas of IR (e.g., anarchy, collective motion dilemma, battle vs. cooperation, absolute vs. relative good points) 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 often all through the semester to consolidate and consider what data has been transferred to the scholars. In keeping 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 don’t have preliminary data of the sector or matters to be coated.

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 contributors of the possible conduct options to resolve worldwide political crises and conflicts. It is vitally helpful, as there are various instances in IR that may be simulated on this approach (the Chilly Warfare, the First and Second World Warfare, the Abkhazia Disaster between Russia and Georgia, the Financial Disaster of Greece and the European Union, the institution of the European Union, and so forth.). The situation is usually created by an educator who’s an skilled on this space of analysis. Actual-life crises are employed (1) to show particular matter areas, reminiscent of causes and causes for battle and battle, and (2) as an instance and let contributors expertise how tough it could turn into for practitioners within the area (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 real looking as potential and leisure will not 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 intention to switch expertise to the contributors via illustrating the method of disaster administration whereas technique video games principally intention to show elementary ideas.

Simulations have their very own strict guidelines, however they aren’t carved in stone. For example, if the simulation is ready to resolve battle, contributors could not have the choice to resort to violence (declare battle) till a sure flip comes. Nonetheless, these guidelines should 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 could let contributors resolve how one can take care of the state of affairs via diplomacy and different measures. In technique video games nonetheless, there’s a time restrict, and guidelines are usually stricter and fewer fluid. Certainly, in simulations the results of crisis-management or conflict-resolution processes are left to the contributors to resolve. For 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 could be achieved by leaving some area for the creativity of the contributors. I took it as an encouragement for growing college students’ participation in the course of the circulation of the simulation and for leaving extra space to the contributors by letting them to give you various extra inventive programs of motion. In comparison with technique video games, I believe simulations give the educator an elevated maneuvering capability each by way of content material and inspiring contributors involvement.

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

  1. Creating groups in response to the category dimension and variety of contributors
  2. Figuring out the variety of turns and size based mostly on the allotted time
  3. Establishing a communication platform, reminiscent of a roundtable that contributors use as a summit to debate their variations
  4. Making ready and distributing a technique doc for every staff firstly of the sport that the contributors use a tenet
  5. Establishing a world media staff via which contributors obtain information about one another
  6. Beginning the simulation, monitoring the turn-based circulation, and letting the contributors resolve the battle

The educator usually offers info to the contributors earlier than the simulation begins, displays the circulation of the simulation, assesses the simulation on the finish, and covers related matters afterwards. As soon as the small print of this simulation design are established by the educator, it turns into simpler to jot down an IR disaster simulation on any matter in worldwide politics. Whereas situations and minor particulars change throughout totally different simulations, there are particular widespread traits as nicely. First, simulations often take longer than different methods. Because the options should not fixed for contributors, the simulations don’t fall into repetition after a few turns like these in technique video games. Second, the principle intention of simulations is to create a sensible situation.

Disaster simulations should not video games, they’re deliberately designed with the intention of transferring real looking 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 contributors, clarify guidelines intimately, and allocate adequate time for contributors to arrange 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 could favor 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 via numerous views. College students expertise many elements of IR as a occupation at totally different phases of the simulation, together with, however not restricted to the difficulties of reaching consensus in worldwide negotiations, the hassle 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 comply with the simulation fastidiously 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 because the educator makes a ultimate evaluation to attach her/his observations in the course of the simulation with the data she/he intends to switch to the scholars.

Lastly, storification, is a method 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 totally different life and the occasions taking place after their first encounter. The story begins by describing life in Rationalia. Residents of Rationalia have fairly related life and day by day routines the place they assemble and stay in very related buildings and homes. Then the story continues with residents of Reflectia, who stay in very totally different situations. Reflectians don’t have related 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 hold Reflectians out of their life. Rationalians even construct large 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 quick story, I ask the scholars to take a position and focus on the metaphors within the story. For example, the towers of Rationalia representing the rationalist analysis packages, the massive wall-representing disciplinary boundaries in IR, the earthquake representing the top of the Chilly Warfare, and different metaphors that I inject into the story. When this method is mixed with creativity, and prior readings on the subject, it helps the coed perceive and bear in mind the discussions made within the classroom. Identical to using standard sequence, films, and novels, using storification and metaphors additionally has the potential to assist educators simplify the matters and switch data to their college students.

I take advantage of this method to switch data of complicated theoretical matters in IR to college students via 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 actually symbolize the data she/he intends to switch to the scholars. Primarily based 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 means that directs the scholars to assist one aspect of the talk 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 side of this method. If the course has studying materials on complicated theoretical matters, the trainer could ask the scholars to learn the fabric earlier than telling the story; then, after telling the story at school, give college students further time to consider the studying and assess the switch of information via 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 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 educating and studying IR. One of many shared goals of the approaches mentioned above is to switch data and expertise to the participant via a simplified and entertaining course of.

There are a few vital elements to recollect whereas using these methods: (1) the educator could miss some vital particulars of the subject that she/he needs to cowl whereas attempting to make use of these methods, and (2) possibly extra importantly, the educator could switch the incorrect message to the contributors. Each elements 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 could fairly simply switch unintended messages to contributors turning them into fanatic supporters of a selected mind-set in IR (realists, liberals, rationalists, and so forth.) 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 favor 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 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 might even be used as exams to evaluate and consider scholar data and expertise on the finish of the course. Storification could 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 vital.

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


[1] See additionally numerous different simulation, drawback based mostly 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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