Table of Contents:
In this paper, the authors reflect on the potential of simulation games for teaching peace and conflict studies. Based on many years of practical experience in developing and facilitating simulation games both in academic and non-academic contexts, the authors first assess the merits of simulation games as an active learning tool. In general, it is believed that students are more engaged in simulations and learn more effectively than in lectures and other traditional methods.
The paper posits that when developing or using simulation games it is imperative to decide first of all on the learning objectives in order to achieve the above mentioned advantages. Based on this premise, the authors proceed to classify simulation games according to their primary learning objectives, distinguishing games geared primarily towards conveying knowledge from those aimed at training and soft skills. Games for generating knowledge focus on teaching both processes and dynamics of conflicts and politics in general, factual knowledge about a given conflict or policy field, or institutional procedures.
The second category concerns learning objectives such as training teamwork, communication, negotiation, as well as the ability to deal with crisis situations, and making decisions under stress. The relevance of these learning objectives for teaching peace and conflict studies is then assessed on the basis of four case studies describing different simulation game concepts. The authors conclude by arguing for a more extensive use of simulation games in academic teaching and with practical hints on how to choose the right game format or how to develop such a simulation.