The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching, Active Learning

By Jeffrey S. Lantis; Lynn M. Kuzma et al. | Go to book overview
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10 Bureaucratic Bargaining
Revisited: A U.S.
Foreign Policy Simulation

Heidi Hobbs and Dario Moreno

Simulations have been popular in political science and international relations classes for the last four decades. Role-playing exercises are popular because they are a great way to introduce complex theoretical concepts in an active learning environment. A well-designed simulation requires students to actively engage in group problem solving. These activities force passive students to deal with politics as actors instead of silent observers.

“Bureaucratic Bargaining” simulates the executive branch's decisionmaking process.1 A crisis scenario is introduced, and students are asked to develop an appropriate response based on their bureaucratic role assignment. By means of a belief system questionnaire administered prior to role assignment, “Bureaucratic Bargaining” also explores the tension that can develop between role and belief system when one is confronted with a crisis decision.


Educational Objectives

Simulations are an excellent tool for the teaching of U.S. foreign policy. Role-playing exercises are ideally suited for demonstrating the complexities of governmental machinery and the function of personal perceptions in the decisionmaking process. This is critical because beginning students often enter the study of international relations with a simplistic view of policymaking. Students tend to reduce the

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