Second year Modern Presidency students participated in a simulation on US Presidential decision making. The game was based on a Situation Room briefing for the President on real events in Ukraine, with groups of students playing Intelligence agencies, the Military, the Cabinet, Congress (not technically a member of the Security Council but needed for political context) and of course the President and his team. After an intense three hours students clearly appreciated the intense and conflicting interests facing Presidents when making decisions.
Students spent the previous week researching each actor’s role, preparing briefing documents, and developing five options for the President to take action on the serious crisis in Ukraine. Using such a contemporary issue allowed students to gather material quickly and gain a wonderful insight into a pressing global issue. It did, however, cause the background papers to be redrafted several times as real-world events overtook the slightly changed background papers developed to contextualise the simulation.
Beyond developing knowledge of US Presidential politics and foreign policy analysis, the simulation was designed to give students more employment focused skills in negotiation, policy drafting, and professional briefing paper development. The great passion and enthusiasm shown by students during the simulation is testament to their appreciation for the wide range of skills it allowed them to develop.