Lessons and Limits of Active Learning in the International Relations Classroom: Reflecting on a Simulated UN Security Council Debate over the Syrian Crisis

Stream: Panel 32 - International Relations: Syria
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

This paper evaluates the use of an active learning simulation in a large first year course in International Relations (IR). First year introductory classes are the initial contact most students will have with the IR discipline and their first opportunity to reflect deeply and systematically on the world in which they live. A high quality, inspirational learning and teaching experience in these courses is crucial not only for student engagement and academic development, but also for the IR discipline’s vitality and future success. This paper reflects on the opportunities and constraints present in simulation-based learning in first year IR classes. The paper evaluates the design, conduct and learning outcomes of a simulated UN Security Council debate over humanitarian intervention in Syria in a course of 400 students across two campuses. It argues that well-designed simulation-based active learning can achieve richer student outcomes than the traditional lecture and tutorial model. The paper also serves as a practical ‘how to guide’ in the preparation, design and teaching strategies for implementing simulation-based learning in a first year IR context.

Authors

Lucy West (Presenter), Griffith University
Lucy West is a PhD candidate and teacher/workshop instructor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University.

Malin Karlsson (Presenter), Griffith University
Malin Karlsson is a PhD candidate and teacher/workshop instructor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University.

Dan Halvorson (Presenter), Griffith University
Dan Halvorson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University.