Learning through state-building simulations

by Alexa Hernandez

While choosing to be a student of SPIA is a remarkable decision in itself, I, in an obviously biased manner,  will go a bit further and say that choosing to major specifically in International Affairs is another. Whether you take the comparative politics route or the international policy side, each one is valid and needed in society. Specifically in the INTL3200 class, an Introduction to International Relations, many students participate in a state-building simulation called “Statecraft.” I am currently in this class so I can not tell you how these countries or simulation end, but I can say that it teaches students a lot about diplomacy, strategy, and critical thinking. Every week we have to submit a memo talking about what we are doing for the week, and I scrolled all the way back and found my first: “During the course of the first turn, our country, the Hydra Republic, has started to set some plans in place in order to do what we find is best for our country. Right now, we are poor in scientific knowledge and food. Because of that, we set our three research priorities to health, education, and safety. We could not build any structures at this time, but we did begin to research into projects in order to do these things. Our country keeps getting slammed with terrorist attacks and slave rebellions, but there is not much we can do. Our people and country are very vulnerable, which is scary. I know they’re fake, but I feel personally responsible? I don’t want our country to become a target from the rest of the world. We depleted our capital joining the WTO, which was honestly a bad move so early on in the game. Trading is a good move, but I think making an alliance so quick without knowing much is a bit risky. Can we trust the other groups? What can they see now that we are all together in this deal? Our information is imperative to the safety to our people, and as the Secretary of Defense, they and our country matter most. There is general distrust in the world currently against us, so we will have to do some convincing in order to generate good feelings.” As you can see, this simulation is very intense, and I hadn’t even gotten to the bulk of it! We’ve had more terrorist attacks, hunger, strikes, pirates, and nuclear tension all in the span of maybe four weeks or so. Each country is different, as they have different resources and land, but every country has the same end goal: to get the highest quality of life score. This score represents the well-being of our people, and how they are “living” in our country. Statecraft has been an amazing addition to what we are learning in class, because I have had the opportunity to apply what I have learned specifically and use it to my advantage in the simulation. We’ve made trade deals with other countries and alliances, but we couldn’t have done it without the valuable knowledge that we had learned in our class.