Simulation in International Relations: Developments for Research and Teaching

By Harold Guetzkow; Chadwick F. Alger et al. | Go to book overview

als in the MIT and RAND simulations maintain that these simulations of actual countries have value for practitioners. Professor Bloomfield of MIT claims that "one of the most useful purposes of the serious professional 'reality game' is to help clarify premises which underlie thinking and planning but which are not often if ever put to the actual test of events. Lacking such a test of events, the game sets up a laboratory in which those events can be lived through experimentally" ( Bloomfield, 1960, p. 61). Reporting on a RAND experience Joseph M. Goldsen states that "the participants from the Department of State were particularly emphatic in their belief that much had been learned" ( Goldsen, p. 36). The MIT and RAND simulations appear to have value in exploring the potential consequences of specific policies and searching for new alternatives. Participation in the simulation of contrived countries, as critics and developers of the simulation as well as in the role of decision-makers, might also stimulate practitioners to develop their analytic skills.

As has been pointed out by Greene and Sisson as a result of their experience with business simulations, the educational benefits of simulation extend to the teacher as well ( Greene and Sisson, p. 2). In designing a simulation and modifying it as a result of class discussion and of new findings in the literature, the teacher is required to make his model of the field explicit, to subject it to constant challenge and, when necessary, to make revisions. In working with the model the teacher must devote some attention to international relations as a whole; thus he is less likely to concentrate only on the part of the field with which he is most familiar or with which he enjoys working the most. Furthermore, the model stimulates the selection of readings that are relevant to it and that illuminate the variables and relationships that it incorporates. This provides explicit and theoretically meaningful criteria for selection of readings rather than selection on the basis of what is customarily used or what is readily accessible.


VII. Summary

To summarize briefly, a survey of reports by educational users of simulation indicates that the main claims for the educational value of simulation are (1) it increases student interest and motivation; (2) it serves as a laboratory for student application and testing of knowledge; (3) it provides insight into the decision-makers predicament; (4) it offers a miniature but rich model that facilitates

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