Model United Nations (UNA-USA)
Simulations help students
the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for success in the world
at large. They provide a safe playing field for students to try new
roles, skills, and responsibilities.
Simulations have proven to be an important tool to developing
many aspects of global competence. They motivate students through
real-world, relevant events. Simulations also compel students to combine
content knowledge with critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Role-playing exercises may be part of the human condition. Experts believe that when children play, they often take on the role of someone older--often a parent or a professional. Child development specialists explain that this is simply a way for children to make sense of the world. Practicing different outcomes makes people, however young, understand variables and make them more comfortable in different situations.
Schools have used simulations for a long time. School newspapers and drama clubs, just to name two examples, mimic the practices of professional institutions as a way for students to learn how to strive for professional-level benchmarks.
It may sound like a cliche, but role-playing exercises that have an international or global dimension help students find commonalities and respect differences. Working with unfamiliar partners or on international conflict resolutions also helps students understand the local-global connection, as well as delve into roots of tradition and conflict.
Qualities of a Good Project
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating simulation projects and service providers:
- Is the project driven by relevant essential questions?
- Does it take into account perspectives from beyond the United States? How? (Tapping into international news sources, working with international partners)
- Does it use primary sources from around the world, as appropriate?
- Does it have real-world outcomes?
Get Started with Global Simulations
A great way to start is to use an existing program or service provider.
- GlobalEd 2 Project:
Utilizing educational technologies currently available in most middle
schools (computers with Internet connection), GlobalEd 2 situates
in a virtual, international decision-making environment focused on
world issues. Across the country about 12-16 social studies classrooms
participate in the simulation, each assigned a different country to
represent. Within each classroom or country, students are
further divided into a number of issue areas such as human rights,
policies, environment, and health. The students in these issue area
groups then interact with their counterparts in other countries
over a five-week period, though a web-based environment in order to
negotiate some mutually agreeable resolution to a world issue like
scarcity or global climate change. http://www.globaled.uconn.edu
- Model United
Nations, long popular in U.S. schools, allow students to assume
the role of diplomats from a range of nations. As they research
problems in their new roles, students see world issues from new
and are forced to craft multi-nation resolutions as they learn
about the structures and work of the United Nations. http://www.nmun.org/
- Capitol Forum,
is a simulation sponsored by Choices for the 21st
Century Education Program, a national education initiative based
at Brown University that allows students to participate in U.S.
relations negotiations, centered around the question: What role should
the United States play in the changing international environment of
the 21st century? http://www.choices.edu/cf/
- The World Affairs
Challenge, from the Center for Teaching International Relations
at the University of Denver, provides resources to school teams to
a different global theme each year. Teams then come together for a
event in which they present the results of their research, participate
in a global quiz, and work on a "collaborative question" with students
from other schools. Annual themes have included global health, the
marketplace, and conflict in the contemporary world. http://www.du.edu/worldaffairschallenge/
- The ICONS Project, based at the University of Maryland, offers online role-play simulations on
contentious global issues. Simulations are available on topics ranging
from a Nigerian oil conflict to a crisis in North Korea. Some can run
in just a few class periods, while others can involve multiple schools
and last for a few weeks. All simulations take place within a
password-protected online simulation platform, complete with
instructional resources, a scenario, and a variety of communication
- Federal Reserve
Bank of New York provides a simulation exercise to help students
understand how the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), made up of
the seven members of the Board of Governors and the presidents of the
12 Federal Reserve Banks, makes monetary policy. Students must
international conditions when making decisions. http://www.ny.frb.org/education/fomcsim.html
Economics Summit is a world trade simulation for high school
which teaches fundamental economic concepts within the context of
trade. Students work in teams throughout the 10 weeks as economic
to a country. Together they create a strategic plan to improve the
conditions in their assigned country. A mini summit at their school
or in their region is finale to the project. http://www.frbsf.org/education/teachers/ies/index.cfm
- ThinkQuest.org collaborate with an international team of peers and coaches to create a real-world website. http://thinkquest.org
Have you used global simulations in your class? What advice do you have for other readers?