Brandon J. Archuleta, assistant professor of American politics at the United States Military Academy; Alynna J. Lyon, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire; Earl Anthony Wayne, Sol M. Linowitz visiting professor at Hamilton College and public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Allison Stanger, Russell J. Leng '60 professor of international politics and economics at Middlebury College discuss using CFR's Model Diplomacy simulation in class with their students, as a part of the 2017 College and University Educators Workshop.
*Please note, because of technical difficulties, the video ends before the question and answer period. The transcript for the full session is available below.
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STANGER: So good morning. Hello, everybody. My name is Allison Stanger, and I’m professor at Middlebury College. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you our panel. We have three speakers. I’m going to say a little bit at the beginning about my experience with Model Diplomacy. But we’re fortunate to have with us Brandon J. Archuleta, Alynna Lyon, and Tony Wayne, Ambassador Tony Wayne.
They have each—they each have their own experiences using Model Diplomacy and have something very unique to contribute to the discussion. I don’t think there’s going to be much overlap. We kind of talked beforehand, and we’re aware that we’ve used it in a variety of different ways. It’s very flexible. And hopefully that’ll be useful to you as you hear these different approaches to incorporating it in our curriculum.
Let me just say a bit about my experience with Model Diplomacy first. And again, my intention really is to open this up as a free-flowing discussion so we can have plenty of questions. As you know, we’re breaking down into small groups afterwards. So, if something doesn’t get answered here, we’ll definitely have plenty of opportunities to discuss it further.
But I first used Model Diplomacy in January of 2016—that is, two Januarys ago—and I used it as part of a January-term course at Middlebury. This was quite interesting. I did it kind of as a beta test for the Council. Richard Haass, who’s an old friend and colleague of mine, thought it might be an ideal format to use Model Diplomacy. And he turned out to be right.
So the way I used it was in a four-week winter-term course. Students only take one course at Middlebury in January, so it’s the only course they’re taking. And we had four weeks with two hours a day, four days a week. So this enabled me to do a variety of really interesting things. It was an experiment the first time. I think it worked quite well.
So I was able to teach it again in January of this year and really reaped the benefits, because the first time through, the website was just, you know, well put together but hadn’t been test-driven. So we were able to find and identify things that, you know, were a little bit glitchy, worked those out. It was completely seamless by the time I used it the following January. So thanks to the Council for just amazing hands-on work. They made it very easy for me to use it.
So what did I do? Well, the course was called Crisis Diplomacy. And what I did is I did three simulations. And since it’s January in Vermont, and I love literature, we also read all of War and Peace concurrently. (Laughter.) I thought what a better thing to do, you know, to finish a January in the midst of a cold Vermont winter, and at the end of it you have actually read all of War and Peace.
And it actually fit in quite nicely with the course’s goals, because we proceeded what I would like to say from simple to the more complex—not that any of these crises are simple, but I think some of them have more moving parts than others. So we began with humanitarian crisis in Sudan. We moved on to drone strikes in Pakistan. And then we finished up with NATO and Russia in the Baltics. And that was a nice segue into the discussions that take place with the Napoleonic wars and War and Peace.
So a week per simulation, and the fourth week we had this wonderful full attention to the insights of Tolstoy’s model. And most students got it. Some probably didn’t get why I was doing that because it was such a strange juxtaposition for some. But most understood that what we had actually done was started with a set of assumptions about how the world works, tried to model what statesmanship looks like, and by the end of three simulations they’re kind of feeling like world historical figures. They’re ready to conquer the world. They’re ready to really, you know, change the world for the better.
And then Tolstoy kind of comes along. He just blows up those assumptions, which is basically saying you’re delusional. Nobody controls history. People just think that they do. And here’s the way the world really operates. And, of course, there are a variety of really interesting philosophical discussions, moral discussions, that can come out of that. So I thought the thing came together just wonderfully.
Fast-forward to January 2017. We’ve elected Donald Trump as president. This allowed for some really interesting innovations. I basically kept the same model, the exact three simulations, all of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, with one tweak. We started off with National Security Council simulations under the Obama administration; that is, normal National Security Council deliberations.
And then, for the final simulation, which took place after the inaugural, I said, OK, let’s do this with the Trump administration. We’re not going to get this right. We’re guessing what it’s going to be like. But let’s just try to simulate what these discussions would look like under this new paradigm.
So then I was faced with this interesting dilemma. Who is on the National Security Council? (Laughter.) And the way I resolved it was there’s these—what do they call it?—the extra—you know, there’s the—I can’t remember the—it’s kind of the wild-card designation in the simulation.
WAYNE: Counselors to the president.
STANGER: What is it called?
WAYNE: Counselors to the president.
STANGER: Yeah, counselor to the president. So I decided, OK, I am going to put Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on the National Security Council, but I’m not going to tell the other students. It’s just going to be sprung upon them at the first simulation. I picked my smartest student to be Donald Trump.
We did the simulation, and it turned out very differently than the previous simulations, for reasons I don’t have to outline for you. I mean, we can go into it in detail in the Q&A if you’d like. But the students afterwards said to me in the debriefing, you know, OK, Jared and Ivanka on the National Security Council. What about Steve Bannon? Wouldn’t he be on the National Security Council? And I said, oh, no. No, that would never—(laughter)—never happen. The truth is stranger than fiction.
So that’s my experience with Model Diplomacy. We had amazing discussions. The course was quite meaningful to me. And I hope that you too will get the opportunity. Many of you may have already used it in a variety of ways. But if you haven’t, check it out. It’s a very rich resource. One of the things I discovered—and I’ll stop in a moment, because they have many wonderful things to add to this discussion—is that students would go above and beyond the call of duty in the quest to play these roles.
So the Council is providing me with all these raw materials. It’s wonderful. It’s a treasure trove. They will actually go out and do additional research, because they want to win. You know, they want their argument to win the day.
And one final thing I might add, because I don’t know if any of you have done it this way previously. I had a course of, I think, 24 students. These simulations have 12 to 13 players. I guess they had 26. So how I dealt with this—and this seemed to work quite well—is I assigned each student—two students to each role. And the way that worked in the simulation was we split it in two with timing. And one student would be the principal and the other student at that time would be the deputy.
And we didn’t allow any laptops, cellular devices for the principals, because I wanted it to be realistic. But for the deputies, I allowed them to have laptops, kind of on the perimeter of the room, and they would be researching things in real time as the arguments were unfolding. And I allowed them to pass notes to the principals. And that kept it just really lively and everybody engaged, even though it was a larger group. I thought that was an innovation that worked.
So those are some of my thoughts. It’s been a great experience for me. I’m very grateful to the Council for putting together these materials.
And, having said that, I now turn it over to our panelists. I don’t know what order we’d like to go in. Is there a particular order we should go in?
WAYNE: We could—
STANGER: Should we just start with Brandon?
Well, thank you for coming today. I was saying back in the green room this is my first CFR panel, so it’s very exciting.
So I am on the faculty at West Point. And our classes are 55 minutes long. It’s because of cadet schedules and the rigor of the day. So we’ve got to jam this very complex scenario into 55 minutes, not too dissimilar from many of the critical decisions that the president has to make in real time.
So what we’ve done is, rather than spreading it out over the course of the semester—and this will be my 10th iteration of it—we will give cadets a few days to prepare with the materials, and then they’re coming into class prepared to attend an NSC meeting.
We’ve done it a couple of different ways. We’ve excluded the president and the vice president. We’ve made it a principals committee meeting, depending on how many cadets are in the class and how we want—what the outcome is, recommendations, or if we want a decision. If we want a decision, we’ll include a cadet as a president. I’ve also brought in special guest stars as—to be the president.
And we’re—because we are in the military apolitical and nonpartisan, we’re agnostic about who the president is. So, when President Obama was in office, we were not following under President Obama’s grand strategy. It did not constrain with the cadets with that. And now I’m no longer—I’m not concerning the cadets with President Trump’s America-first strategy.
And what I love about the Model Diplomacy program is that it exposes cadets to the complexities of the policymaking process, which is something that, without being—understanding the onslaught of information coming to you, understanding the competing interests sitting at a table with various bureaucracies, you really can’t fathom until you’re in a room, making a set of recommendations that you think are in America’s best interest, and looking across the table from a classmate or a colleague and they’re making the very opposite recommendation because they believe it’s in America’s best interest.
What I also think is interesting, setting aside the complexities of the policymaking process, is, in a student body where cadets wear the same uniforms every day—they have the same issued backpacks, the same issued laptops—we often struggle with creativity. And I’m on a creativity and critical-thinking committee at the Academy, and we’re looking for ways to foster this, because we need officers to go out into the Army and be creative and critical thinkers when they’re faced with difficult situations in combat.
And so this scenario, this simulation, gives us opportunities for cadets to think creatively, because there is no right answer. Some scenarios, some answers, some outcomes, are better than others, but there’s no right answer. And so, whether you’re going to fashion a series of sanctions against the Chinese or the Russians, whether you’re going to deploy the 5th Fleet off the coast as a show of strength, whether you’re going to call for a summit in Sweden, there’s no right or wrong answers. But cadets have to think creatively and critically to get to some recommendation.
And so I think it’s been remarkable for us, and I would certainly encourage you to consider using it.
LYON: So one—I’m just delighted to be here. I think I attended the very first workshop of this kind; I want to say five, six years ago. And we had a conversation at the time about engaging students and how to engage students in the work that the Council does. So I’ll just tell you a teeny bit about myself so that you kind of understand the perspective that I’m coming from.
I teach U.S. foreign-policy courses, but I also teach courses on international organizations. And so my research really dovetails in these two things. And so I remember when they—I’ve done Model United Nations for years; would bring my students to New York and other venues. And so I am a huge proponent of active learning, right. So this is engaged active-learning exercise. And, in fact, I think, at least in my experience—and it’s been almost 20 years now—it’s sometimes the only thing students remember 10 years down the line of your entire class, right.
So you’ve gone through everything. You’ve read all this stuff. You have all these exams. And the thing that they’ll remember is that day that they showed up and represented another country or an actor. It stays with them. And it’s incredibly powerful. So, one, I’m a huge proponent of active learning.
The second thing is I’m also what’s called an OER ambassador, online educational access resources, which is really just an abbreviation for free stuff out there to help you teach online. And I’ve been part of a group at my university, University of New Hampshire, that’s been looking at these things for about three years now. And I’ve looked at a lot of free online resources which to help our students, and they are very mixed in terms of the quality.
The Model Diplomacy is excellent. And, in fact, when I sat down with my colleagues and showed them what the Council was doing and the depth of the content, everybody in the team that I’m working with at UNH that’s looking at these things was blown away. All right, so most of the time something of this caliber is going to cost your students a considerable amount of money. And so I think that that’s just an incredible service that the Council is doing for both us as educators and our students.
So let me just talk a little bit about how I’ve used it, where I’ve used it. When I first thought about this—and I was actually on the ground level at some point helping the Council think about what would this—and I think I piloted it for the first time and was pushing them. I said, you know, we start teaching in January; I need to know if this is going to be a go, because I want to put it in my syllabus.
So I’ve used it. My first thought was, oh, this will be good for foreign-policy courses. And I teach an introduction to U.S. and world affairs, which is really Washington to now Trump, soup to nuts, with some discussion of policy process and a few models thrown in there and some actors, right. But it’s really something, a gen-ed requirement that many, many students in the university take.
And so I thought, oh, this would be good, not in the huge section but in the smaller sections. But as I began using Model Diplomacy, I have now incorporated it not only at the introductory level and the U.S. foreign-policy classes, but I also invite you to think about using it in other classes.
So, for example, I taught a course on global justice, and I used the Sudan case for the global-justice course, and it was excellent. I also taught a graduate seminar on global governance and sustainability, and there’s a climate-change simulation that Model Diplomacy is applying. And it was very, very effective at the graduate level.
So my point here is that I’ve been able to integrate it into many different levels, as well as the online-only environment. And that’s a lot of fun to talk about, to use Model Diplomacy when you don’t interact with your students and they’re not interacting on a face-to-face basis with each other. And I can talk a little teeny bit about that.
But my point is you can bring out different things. So, with the Introduction to U.S. and World Affairs course, the foreign policy, that traditional course, we spend a lot of time talking about the National Security Council—who it is, where it came from, that history. We dive pretty deep into that particular section of materials, and then talking about positions.
When I did the graduate level with the Global Governance and Sustainability course, we moved through that pretty quickly, because that’s not really the intent of the course. And we were able—I am able to kind of go as deep and pull out and use it in different ways, in different classroom settings, in different content areas. So I think that that’s actually very, very powerful. And I appreciate that.
A couple of things about teaching in the online, and I just did it for the very first—I’ve been teaching online-only courses for a while, but I incorporated it into a J term, similar J term in this particular January. And I didn’t quite know, like, how is this going to work? Am I going to have them kind of log in and do a discussion board? And, you know, and one of my colleagues is working with a platform called Zoom. I don’t know if you’re working with Zoom. It’s like Skype.
The great thing about Zoom is it’s kind of the “Brady Bunch” approach, where the students log in and they get to label themselves, right. So they could say secretary of state, secretary of defense, rather than their own name. And then you’ve got the split squares. And I was able to remove myself, right. I’m there witnessing and part of the conversation. I can send notes to students. But they engage each other. And I will tell you, it was very profound. And the feedback I got from that particular experience, so many of them said this was just amazing. The elevated level in the online class was really interesting.
I’ll say just a couple more things. One of the things that I think is really important is feedback, particularly in the online course, but depending on where you are, what class you’re teaching, what content area you want to really emphasize. And so I spend a lot of time giving them—you know, sometimes this particular simulation is part of the semester-long course. So we’ll do—you know, a month in we’ll be doing the National Security Council portion. And then a little bit later we’ll be doing the issue areas and the policy briefs and stuff. And so—and there’s times in which we—I spend a lot of time saying let’s make sure we’ve got this right.
My approach, my kind of pedagogical approach to simulation, is that if you do strong preparation, they’re beautiful. They really run very, very well. But it’s really about the preparation. The work has to happen before you come into the classroom. And the Model Diplomacy site really does that very, very effectively. So I just encourage you to kind of think about that and how, at each stage that the simulation walks your students through, what are you going to do? How deep are you going to dive? How much exchange?
And in the online environment, you know, my philosophy in the online environment is actually it’s a much more personal experience, which is kind of surprising. But I feel like, you know, if we’re not seeing each other face to face, you’re getting a lot of engagement with me, a lot of email back and forth. And so, in that regard, I did a lot of work individually. Now, that class was only 30. It was capped at 30, so I was able to do that. You know, in a class of 120, I think I have to opt out of that, like, level of engagement with my students. But, you know, I was very much part of supporting their process and making sure that they felt comfortable.
So I think I’ll stop there. But again, just thinking about this, you know, not only in terms of U.S. foreign policy and kind of that particular model with the National Security Council, that it’s providing you with the decision-making process, but also other ways in other courses that you can bring that in.
WAYNE: Go ahead? Thank you.
STANGER: Ambassador Wayne.
WAYNE: So my name is Tony Wayne. And the unique perspective I bring is that I’ve been a diplomat for 40 years, and then I tried to teach a little bit about diplomacy and foreign-policy decision-making.
STANGER: I’m going to stop you there for a moment. I neglected to say that this is a former ambassador to both Mexico and to Argentina, correct? Yeah. So I did a lousy job of introducing. I didn’t say their affiliations or anything. But you know that Alynna is from the University of New Hampshire. Brandon is from West Point.
So, sorry to interrupt you, but that was—
WAYNE: That’s all right.
STANGER: —lousy introductions. My apologies.
WAYNE: So the other relevant part is I spend a lot of time in Washington and a lot of time going to National Security Council meetings and deputies’ meetings and principals’ meetings and IPCs and all sorts of things.
And so the first thing I would say is that these simulations are very realistic. I could see myself sitting there mostly in that back row, handing notes to the front, or watching it on video conference from Afghanistan, participating via those little squares. And we do do that also. Most people are present, but you’ll have often three or four people up on the screen in their little places. It’s not quite as easy to break in when you have 15 people talking around the table and you want to say something. You keep raising your hand or making sounds.
But the great thing about this is it’s realistic. So you can—as you’ve heard, there are a lot of ways to use this. But if you can fit it in and your students already have a good basis in what’s going on, they can learn a lot more by participating in these simulations.
In the case—I was visiting professor at Hamilton College. Hamilton College has a special fellowship for once a year, bringing a professor practice up. And so I had the luxury of teaching an upper-class honors seminar of 12 people. And so these were self-selected kids who’d, you know, done well. And we spent the first two thirds of the class going through the history of the National Security Council and big decision-making from Truman forward, up through Obama.
So, by the time we started the three simulations that we did, people had spent a lot of time getting familiar with what was the National Security Council. Who were the players? They got the ideas of where you stand is where you sit, at least intellectually. But what happened is when we did these scenarios, they got it more than intellectually, because they started out saying their own opinions.
And after the first hour of the first scenario I just stopped them and I said, OK, do you think the secretary of defense would really argue that, you know? Do you think the secretary of state would really argue that? Well, no. Is that what you believe? Yes. (Laughter.) OK. You’re not here saying what you believe. You’re here being the secretary of defense. And after that, they got it.
And we did it three times. We did three scenarios. We did Pakistan and drones, we did crisis in Venezuela, and we did cyberwar with China. And it was really a tremendously useful tool because they took all this stuff they’d been reading about and they could put it into practice. They put it into practice in their arguments, in their summing-up papers, because if you’ve looked through in the material, you do a pre-paper, sort of a briefing memo. Then you do a wrap-up memo afterwards.
And then it perfectly fed into what we were doing during the course, which was the culmination—the final exam was a memo to President-elect Trump. How should you structure and build your National Security Council? Now, he didn’t follow any of that guidance. (Laughter.) But the kids all knew—I call them kids—my students all knew, my young people all knew what the best practices were during the history of the National Security Council, where people got off base, where things had gone well.
And they all came up with really good presentations of what they thought were those best practices. And they were all very defendable, and they were all written in—because I have spent a lot of time writing these memos, they were all written in a format which somebody might actually read them in the government also. They were all limited to three-page maximum and a lot of space and a lot of bullet points and things like that.
But the background materials of each of these scenarios are excellent. The actual way you can work through, the way you can break it up, you can do it over several different sessions if you want and have time in between. We just had class once a week. It was three hours once a week. But you can have it—what we did is we broke every hour. So we had the initial presentation of arguments. We then took a 10-minute break. You could recoup. We then came back and debated what everybody had presented in their first round. We then took a break. And then they took a little longer break.
And, OK, you have 15 minutes. Write up what are the findings for the president. And so they would—I would leave the room then and they would really argue it. And, you know, and they’d come up with a really—for 15 minutes they did a wonderful job of coming up with an agreed set of recommendations and where there was disagreement. They would show there’s a dissent on this and this and this. So they really—it worked really well just getting them to think this through.
And I think CFR has done a fantastic job, and not only in the simulations, but in the background materials you can find, if you explore their Web page, there’s just a lot of great stuff. These backgrounders that they do have—are just chock-full of great information. And they’re presented, the backgrounders, in a neutral way. So you can absorb the facts and the history about a situation and just use it as that, a real resource.
So why don’t I stop there. And I’ll be happy to talk about things too—
STANGER: That’s great.
WAYNE: —that you want to.
STANGER: I thought it might be interesting—and we’re eager to hear your questions as well—but I thought it would be interesting to ask each of the panelists to perhaps comment on evaluation, how that worked within the course.
From my perspective with the memos, this is a really great exercise for students to learn how to express their ideas concisely and how to also know the difference between arguing from an institutional position, which is their job as a principal on the National Security Council, and arguing from a personal perspective. As you mentioned, they sometimes have difficulty parsing that. So maybe we could—you could each say a word on that.
ARCHULETA: Sure. So the way we structure it at West Point is it’s usually a small graded assignment. It’s not big relative to the rest of the course. Half of the points are allocated towards preparation, the other half towards participation, meaning the memo that you submit, usually on the day of the—we’ve done it both ways. They’ll submit it to the national security adviser—for an upper-class-level course to the national security adviser a day or two in advance.
The national security adviser comes in as the honest broker and distills for the president all of the policy recommendations. And then, in more of an introductory American politics course, they’ll submit it the day of to me, and it’s really just about did they really use the material that was available to them.
And participation is all about whether you’re making clear and coherent arguments in front of your classmates. And it’s very clear who becomes isolated quickly, because there’s a diplomatic solution that they’re working on or they want to go in—go all in with military intervention. And there’s usually one or two lone voices of dissent, and so it’s always nice to hear how well-articulated their arguments are.
And then there are cadets who occasionally they’re overcome with circumstances and they just are not as prepared as they should be. And it’s very clear because they are not prepared. And I have fired cadets—fired cadets on a number of occasions and sent them to sit in the back and maybe brought forward a deputy or asked the U.N. ambassador to now become the secretary of state, or whatever the case is. (Laughter.) It’s—you know, the social nature of it all makes the cadets very anxious. So you’ve got to come prepared if you’re going to be briefing the president, right? So the cadets understand that.
ARCHULETA: The other point here I wanted to highlight is in terms of evaluation, we’ve struggled with finding simulations to try and create this active learning that Alynna was talking about. And we often struggle with incentives. Simulations are so difficult because incentive structures are so warped in a confined and consolidated classroom, where cadets really aren’t running for reelection if, say, you’re doing a commercial simulation, right?
But what’s nice about this is that it’s really just about points and intellectual firepower, as I like to say. So it really mitigates any need for creative incentives, because they’re coming in. They’re getting points. They’re getting graded. And they’re competing back and forth intellectually with their classmates. And so I think the structure of the simulations mitigates those sorts of things, and it makes it much easier for us in terms of evaluation.
LYON: Yeah, so I think it’s an excellent question. And I think about it in two ways. One, evaluation of the student—and I think that your point here is about creating incentives, right, to engage the material. We always have to create an incentive. You know, I remember a colleague of mine saying they’re never doing their homework. And I thought, oh, my God, what do you—well, do you grade them? No. (Laughter.) Any rational actor probably wouldn’t be doing their homework, right?
So I’m a firm believer, at least, you know, from my experience with the Model United Nations, in doing kind of Security Council simulations in upper-division courses that you really have to create those incentive structures for them to engage the material. And it’s rich material. It’s dense material. And so for me it’s incremental. And I actually brought—I can share it with you at some point. This was the one that I used. This was an evaluation. So I got, you know, kind of an overview of their process and then a rubric about which level—which phase and the different point values. And the students—I mean, unfortunately, unless you’re at Reed or select other school—couple of schools—they are grade-oriented, right? They’re point-oriented. And so, to lay that out very clearly, this particular—this point value here and this point value here is important.
And so, you know, and I actually think you want to weight this seriously, from my perspective. I make it about 20 percent of the course grade. And so, say, there’s 500 potential points. I make this 100 points. So it’s the equivalent of, you know, one of the larger exams or something along those lines. And so I send the signal this is important, this is weighted importantly, and so therefore please engage this in an important way.
So, incrementally, this is where that feedback part comes in. And there have been times—this doesn’t go outside of this room, although it’s probably going to because it’s televised—(laughter)—my students, you know, they haven’t turned it in, something in, on time. And I usually will take it late. I usually say no late assignments, but for me the more important thing is that they engage the material, right? That I’m not actually, you know, especially when it’s a collaborative learning experience, they all need to show up as prepared as they possibly can. And so I usually will say, well, you know, I know you didn’t do the assignment, please get through this work, and I will take it late this one time. So it’s really important for me to do that.
MR. : It’s all over now. (Laughter.)
LYON: Shhh. (Laughs.) I’ve tipped my hand. But I do, I think it’s very, very important.
In terms of the assessment itself, I weight the active component, the meeting itself, the Security Council meeting itself, the most, and they do need to come prepared. And if they’ve done their homework and I’ve done my work in terms of leading them down through the different assignments, then they usually show up very prepared.
I’ve had them do a couple of things. One, I often do a peer review assessment, a blind peer-review assessment, right? So everybody fills a piece of paper on their way out. How do you think NSA did? How did the president? You know, and rate them. And I usually have—you know, you have to have some kind of reason, not just a thumbs up or a thumbs down, which is kind of in there. But, you know, a scale of one to four or something along the lines.
And so half of the participation grade comes from me, and half of it comes from a peer review. And part of it is because they, too, are aware and they know, they’ve researched this and they’ve come prepared. And they have a perspective that I don’t have because they’re in the dialogue, right? I’m kind of hovering above and watching.
The final thing in terms of assessment is I also add an assignment that’s not in the model diplomacy platform, which is kind of a secondary debrief. And at least from the pedagogical work and research I’ve done on simulations, it’s really important for students at some point to step back from the entire process and say, what did I learn? You know, what was helpful, what was realistic and kind of those touchpoints back into reality? For me, it’s really the solidification of the learning process for them. So it’s usually just a one-page please tell me what you learned. What was interesting? What was engaging? What was challenging? What was realistic? What was problematic?
And I think that that point, in terms of their own self-evaluation, is really powerful. And I usually—and that’s where the really interesting insights into that process and into this learning platform and the model diplomacy experience really comes out. In fact, I almost printed off a couple of them to bring just to illustrate kind of how intently they think about these things.
STANGER: That’s great.
WAYNE: Well, the simulations, and then we had one other simulation, we had a mock congressional hearing where everybody either had to be a congressperson or a representative testifying before the hearing, counted for 25 percent of the grade overall, both the presentations, participation and the memos that they wrote.
And what was very interesting to me was that during this whole period there were a number of students who at the beginning not only didn’t speak up very much, but it was clear that it was their practice not to speak up very much because they were shy and timid. By the end of the time, they may have still been shy and timid somewhere, but they weren’t being shy and timid in this class.
And so I thought that the whole purpose of the simulation just reinforced getting them to not only put their thoughts together, because they tended to be very good at writing it down, but it also let them develop those skills of presenting them in front of other people, as you were saying, with the debate going on.
Also, part of my objective for this course was to get the students to be able to write policy memos eventually or decision memos. And so all of the homeworks were also not in the memo form, but in a short, pithy form. And then that helped reinforce, and there were weekly homeworks, reinforce the policy memos that they wrote four of during the period of time, plus the ones that they did for the simulation. So there were no long papers, but there were a lot of two-page papers.
And I thought that I could also see the real improvement in that. Some people picked it up quickly, but everybody picked it up by the end. And I hope that gave them a good other set of skills that they can use in the future.
Then just a little bit differently, sort of your idea of these blind, I like that idea of the blind sort of reporting. But at the end of the course or second-to-last week, I specifically had everybody put in their last homework assignment to turn in, along with their memo to the president, what did they think about the simulations. And they were uniformly positive, some really enthusiastically, and others, yes, it was good, you know, in their reaction to having that in the course.
STANGER: That’s excellent. Yeah, I think that that’s a valuable point that you’ve all made. This really does provide an opportunity for students to learn public speaking skills that are quite valuable. And I myself want to think a little bit more about how to create incentive structures for getting them to improve in that, above and beyond just wanting to do well in the simulation. There might be ways to break it down further and talk about how they’re presenting themselves publicly. I did bring in a guest speaker to do that, to work with their rhetoric last January, and that was really interesting.
Final question, because we want to turn it over to you, is, I wanted to ask our panelists to what extent they incorporate the public/private divide in their simulations because, obviously, you’re deliberating privately, there’s a presidential memorandum which may or may not be for public consumption. Did you deal with that at all in your simulations? And if so, how did you do that? This idea that there are some things that are going to be talked about privately, some things you present to the public, and that if you’re going to maintain these partitions in an internet world, chances are very good that what actually happened is going to get out there anyway, so how you deal with that as a media relations strategy is a fascinating twist you can add to these simulations. I don’t know if you’ve thought about that, but maybe you might want to comment on that aspect.
ARCHULETA: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I don’t think we think about it explicitly, but implicitly it happens. And it’s typically those in the diplomatic roles. You know, we will have just read about, really, like, U.S. diplomatic history from the end of World War II forward. And so the Cuban Missile Crisis and trading missiles in Turkey is something that’s on their minds, and so they’ll think maybe there’s a quid pro quo here that we can do privately, and there’s an overture that we need to send through, you know, through a friendly embassy somewhere in the region.
But in terms of the deliberation, right, that’s all part of the scenario, in terms of the deliberation, oftentimes the vice president will ask to see the president or pull the president out of the room and offer his or her advice in private. And sometimes you’ve seen, I’ve seen the national security adviser do the same thing as the honest-broker role. So that the other cadets in the room just aren’t quite sure where the others stand, sort of the George H.W. Bush and the Brent Scowcroft model of presidential decision-making.
STANGER: That’s great.
LYON: So I would say yes, I’ve thought about it, but I think about it in a little bit of a different way, particularly when I did the global justice course and looked at Sudan and then the climate change course. Because half my research is in the United Nations venue of things, I spend a lot of time talking to them about, so, one, there’s an element of tools. What tool do you—one of the things I love about this is it teaches students. They tend to think that there are two tools, right? The podium to implement or—and maybe military troops and then, you know, bomb them. Like, that’s all we’ve got as Americans to be able to work with, right? (Laughter.)
And so, one, it allows you to open up the spectrum and understand that the toolbox is very rich and that there are lots of different ways to approach this. So, when I think about external audiences, I’m often, especially in those two, asking them to think about, you know, if we’re talking about humanitarian intervention in Sudan, do you want to do this in a multilateral framework, right? And what does that mean? Does that mean the United Nations? And then that allows me, which I love, is to then dovetail in discussions about the U.N. and what the Security Council and the precedent in the Security Council. And, for example, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 and getting into the Libya intervention and, you know, the legal precedent, but also the dynamics within the Security Council. Right?
So, yes, you can say that this is—think about this. The NSC can say this is going to be our policy going forward and, yes, we want to engage and go through the U.N., but the U.N. is also a political process. Right? And so think about what the Russians might think about that. And it allows me to get into the political dynamics within the Security Council. And do you think the Chinese are going to be supportive of this? And remember, they have veto capacity.
So I do this quite a bit in that I teach two institutions at the same time or the interface of those institutions. And so I think that allows me to kind of elevate that experience in those particular classes.
STANGER: Thank you.
WAYNE: Yes, we built it in throughout the study of the whole course because it is the reality of American foreign policy that you have all sorts of different audiences and players in the U.S. and then overseas and you have these double- and triple-level negotiations going on at the same time, both domestically and internationally. And so we put it into the simulations also, so you had to come up with a public diplomacy and a congressional strategy for the president or it wasn’t an acceptable set of recommendations going forward. And a multilateral, what did you do with the U.N., what were you going to do with other allies? That those were all built in there.
And they’re just—by the time they got to the simulations, they knew they had to have that built into these things. So yes, it’s really important that you do that and that they just start thinking about it’s not just this negotiation here in this room, that there are actually a bunch of little connecting places where you’re going to have other negotiations going on about this foreign policy, and that includes the media.
WAYNE: A lot of you remember the “13 Days” movie. I had everybody watch it. And at one point in there, the Kennedys floated something through Scotty Reston, which then came back to haunt them in the official letter from Khrushchev. It was the idea that they had floated, and they didn’t want it when it came back. So we talked about that specifically and how you had to be really careful in using the media, how you used it, because you could do things that could really damage your private negotiations or you could help. But you just didn’t know. You had to think that all through.
STANGER: Yeah. Excellent point.
Well, thank you very much.
We’re now going to turn the microphone over to you. If you have questions, please identify yourself, name and affiliation, and use the mic.
Our first question is—how about right here? Yes.
ALLEN: Michael Allen, Bryn Mawr College.
The previous panel mentioned all colleges and universities as natural laboratories of diversity. The other reality is that they are also natural laboratories of international presence. To a large extent, many colleges and universities have a large number of overseas students, many of whom we are also preparing to be policy leaders in their respective countries. To what extent are we preparing just American policy leaders? Or to what extent are our simulations and pedagogic models reflective of the fact that our students come from all over the world?
STANGER: That’s great. I could just say a quick word and then turn it over to you.
At Middlebury College, we have a very large proportion of the student body that’s international. And I’ve had international students play the American president, and I think that’s been a very useful exercise in thinking through how they might want to go back to their own countries and approach the United States as it stomps through the world. (Laughter.) So yes, we think about that quite a bit.
ARCHULETA: So just briefly, this semester in my American foreign policy class, I have a cadet who is sponsored by the Afghan government. So he’s going to return, he’ll graduate this spring and then return to Afghanistan and be part of the Afghan army. And he took on the role, I think, a specialized role as the senior director for national security, or I guess it was senior director for Russian affairs. And he brought a really unique Afghan perspective to the Russia scenario that we did, about Russia and the Baltics, right, and a unique personal history.
And so I’ve found that leveraging the experience of international students is really, really helpful in the classroom. And the government of Afghanistan in particular sponsored this cadet not just for his own enrichment and his education, but because one day when he is a senior leader in Afghanistan he is going to be looked to to explain the American perspective on these issues. And having studied in the United States, I think he’ll be well prepared to do that.
LYON: Yeah. So I think it’s a really important point. I will say a couple of things. One, I think that it goes both ways. I feel that most of the time when I’m teaching international politics or U.S. foreign policy, I’m calling on my American students to think outside of the American box. You know, for example, in the U.S. foreign policy class, one of their assignments is to monitor a foreign news source throughout the entire semester, and they have certain assignments that they do in regards to that, so they can kind of understand that, you know, we aren’t in a vacuum, the United States is doing these actions, and others are looking at them, and they are perceiving them, and they are interpreting. I think this week, you know, with the South Korean situation is a case in point of that. So for me, it’s about kind of creating those connections at both levels.
And then a lot of the classes that I teach in the classroom experience, outside of just the U.S. foreign policy class, are global actors. They are looking at both the United Nations, the member states within them, NGOs, civil society actors or other international governmental organizations. And so I am constantly trying to bring in global perspectives and global actors outside of just the NSC.
And I think that, you know, one of the things I said in my opening remarks is, inviting you to think beyond just this particular—I mean, this particular platform is excellent, and it’s not limiting to just an American-centric perspective.
WAYNE: Just add that that is correct. In the course that I had the pleasure of teaching last fall, we had three dual nationals and one Egyptian national, and so Mexico, Venezuela, and Germany-Sweden, plus Egypt were there. And they did—we rotated roles for the three different simulations. And so they were all different cabinet members. The Egyptian was defense minister at one point when we were talking about this. And I think everybody was enriched by hearing their perspectives as well as forcing the U.S.-citizen students to adopt, to think about how others would interpret things that we did or said also. Because in the interaction, people would say, well, if we do that, isn’t this going to be interpreted as this? And that got them to, all of them, start thinking together about that.
STANGER: Other questions? Yes, right here. Then there’s one back here, I think.
GEORGE: Thank you. Dion George, Atlanta Metropolitan State College.
My question is more of a practical question, if you will. I am very thankful for the idea of the model diplomacy. I have witnessed it face to face, something which is called the African model. I am very thankful to say that my teacher, Dr. Gibrill, taught me African politics and exposed me to the diplomacy teaching. But online, it’s exciting.
And my question is, how much of the model diplomacy is kind of template, and how much flexibility is there for an instructor to set up the class to the unique design of the instructor? That’s one question.
And I guess the other question is, is there a support system for an instructor who wants to incorporate the model diplomacy in a class, say, for example, coming up in the fall or the next spring semester? Is there a support system, and how pragmatic it is? Thank you.
STANGER: Great questions.
Shall we go this way for a change of pace?
WAYNE: Sure. All right. Well, let me just—
STANGER: Just to mix it up and go crazy, yeah.
WAYNE: Well, you’ve had—both of you have taught it several different ways.
ARCHULETA: So I’ll just simply say that it’s very flexible. They present the materials, and you’re welcome to do whatever you like with them, whether it’s a short duration or you set up an entire course around the simulation. And I’ve found the education folks here at CFR to be really responsive to whether it’s a quirk in the system or an idea to add a new role. They’ve been terrific.
LYON: Yeah, I’ll just echo that. I’ve found it incredibly flexible. You know, there are times in which, one, for example, and I used it this January, there’s a place for students to turn in their work on the CFR model diplomacy site. And I wanted to give them much more feedback than is allowed in that particular platform just because it’s online only. Right? And so I had them turn them in on Canvas. And there’s no, you know—Canvas is another learning platform that allows me to do kind of, you know, margin comments and these types of things so I can really dig deep into what they’re writing and interact with them.
And like I said before, the content is there, you can pick and choose which portions of the content you want to use, you know, so there’s kind of a pu pu platter kind of approach if you need that. But at the same time, I would recommend—I think that as they have set up that particular value, that particular process is extremely valuable. Right? And so you really don’t want to skip much of the content. How much you engage one particular section of the content may vary, but I think that the package itself is so valuable as it’s been put together that, you know, you could just take one piece of out of, but I think that you would really be doing a disservice to your students.
And then in terms of the materials, one, the level of material is fabulous. One, there’s videos about how do you set this up. And, you know, sometimes it’s been six months away and I have to go back and look at the video and say, oh, in three minutes, I’m, like, oh, yes, I’m back to where I—you know, so there is instructor videos for the instructor in terms of how to add your students and how to get the simulation going.
There are also user manuals, so there are written materials as well. And then I’ve also reached out via email many times, and the response has been almost immediate. I remember at one point when I think at the very first when I was piloting it there were some issues, and we were on the phone back and forth for a couple, you know, here and here and follow up for an hour. And so we got all that work through. And so in terms of supporting me to be able to support my students, it’s been excellent.
WAYNE: Yeah. I mean, just to add, you can add things to the background materials they have, especially if there have been current events in the past couple of months not covered, and it’s very easy to do. And I just had them submit the answers to the questions directly to me, not use the online version, for a lot of reasons. It was just easier to give them feedback that way. But the materials and basic questions were excellent. And at least in one case, I just added another question to the list of questions to have them consider before we came together.
STANGER: Yeah. But the core group of questions, I would just add, is quite good. It can make your life really easy. (Laughter.)
STANGER: Because they only—yeah.
LYON: Just to follow up on that, too, there’s kind of a user’s guide in that there’s a key to the questions, too.
LYON: So I remember the very first time I was engaging, I think it was the South Sudan case, I went through and I used that, and I’ve had graduate students use that. I use the South China Sea quite extensively. And so I’ve used, especially for the introductory course, I’ve said to the graduate students here’s kind of the instructor key to these answers, you will become familiarized as you go through. And so it’s something that they—I’ve never had problems kind of designating that to them.
Other questions? Yes, over here.
CASSARA: Catherine Cassara, Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
I know that at least one, two, maybe all of you have said that you do better when you do the preparation ahead of time. But have any of you ever given the students some say in which ones you’re going to engage in so that they’re actually saying, well, how about the South Sudan or what about this?
STANGER: Oh, the choice, yeah. Interesting.
WAYNE: Sure. I just had Pakistan and drones for the first one that we did, and then I let them—we then had a discussion at the end of that class and said, OK, what should we do next week, and then send me your ideas of what we should do the third week. And then we just adapted.
STANGER: That’s a great idea.
LYON: So, when I first started using it, there was only, I think, one topic, South China Sea, and it’s expanded since then. And I think it’s a great idea to give them choice, especially with the introductory level. I really like the South China Sea, partly because, you know, it’s not talked about in the media quite a bit, and so it empowers the students, right? So they’re studying something that they don’t have a lot of preconceived notions about, which I think is super important in this particular media environment.
And then it also gives them a sense of authority when they’re done with that particular content that they’ve actually learned something that isn’t, you know, being discussed, you know, on the radio shows and on cable news networks and on Twitter and stuff.
So I, you know, I have my personal favorites. But, you know, when I do U.N. simulations, when I do Security Council simulations, I usually give them, you know, here are four or five choices and choose from that, so I can see using that quite effectively. But I’m kind of topic oriented and committed.
ARCHULETA: I find that the cadets want to do whatever is timely and relevant, so salience matters. And so this last iteration, I think we had something on humanitarian intervention because of the Syrian crisis, and the cadets actually wanted to pivot and they wanted to do Russia because of just some of the international dialogue going on between the two nations now. So I was happy to accommodate and we did Russia and I think they felt better for it.
STANGER: That’s great.
Right here. Yes, right here. OK.
COHN: Thanks. Lindsay Cohn. I’m at the U.S. Naval War College.
So I have two questions, actually—one that follows up on the first two questions that were asked. And that is, we talked a little bit about flexibility. We talked a little bit about other perspectives. And I wonder if any of you—you know, I looked through the case library. Every single one of those cases deals with those issues from the perspective of the United States. Has any of you ever attempted to do one of these simulations from the perspective of a small or medium power, and how that would change the kinds of decisions that you would make and the kinds of options that you have? So that’s question number one, can you—does it have the flexibility to do that?
Question number two is, so many of you are teaching undergraduates. I’m teaching mid-career professional masters-level students, most of whom have 15 to 20 years of experience either in government or in the military. And they’re all over the South China Sea, right? So do any of you have any experiencing teaching this to students with a much higher level of familiarity and sophistication? Do you have any insights on how these can be used for those students and/or how they could be added to or modularized to make that useful? Thank you.
STANGER: Good questions. Who’d like to—
ARCHULETA: So, while I have not taught it to graduate students, I have—we’ve run faculty simulations before we’ve gone out and teached it. And, like the Naval War College, we’re all mid-career Army officers with graduate degrees. And I’ve found that the level of discourse is just simply elevated. We’re able to talk much more deeply about troops numbers or what sanctions look like, or whatever the case is. But I think you’ve just signed CFR up for its next iteration of—(laughter)—model diplomacy, because I think a foreign perspective would be a terrific addition. And it’s not something that I’ve tried. And I’m not quite sure the platform is set for that at the moment.
LYON: So, in terms of foreign perspectives, I mean, this is something that I use, not with this particular platform but in other simulations, right? But I can see you adapting it. I’m—I mean, I’ll be honest. I’m not familiar with the foreign policy process of other powers well enough to be able to go down that path. But you could definitely, you know, kind of skip the National Security Council portion and then get into the issue areas, and have them do the briefs and do exactly. So I don’t see that being an issue.
You know, the other thing for me is it’s always—for me, it’s always about multilateralism. I’m a student of multilateralism, and trying to get them to engage in a—understand multilateralism and the challenges and the opportunities there, and the empowerment of multilateral venues is something. So I’m always going to advocate for that. And like I said, I sneak it in as much as I can whenever I’m using this particular platform, and many others.
In terms of nontraditional students, so I have—when I taught this seminar, the graduate seminar, there were both kind of the traditional graduate students, and there were—I was part of what was called the Sustainability Institute Program at UNH, which is—some of them are mid-career, that didn’t come in through political science but other areas, that are trying to do a certification program or something along those lines. And you know, I think they really relish that opportunity. I think that, again, back to my point about active learning, you know, they’re—college becomes, especially for, you know, someone coming back or a nontraditional learner.
You know, the writing of the papers, the constant engagement of, you know, reading and stuff, that can be quite intimidating to them. But mid-career people are used to maybe putting together a brief and coming in and having a conversation. So that actually may be able to dovetail nice with their current skillsets. But there were—I think that there were only three students that I could say fit into your category. But I thought that they embraced this and were—and were delighted at the opportunity to do a bit more than just kind of the reading and assessment.
STANGER: Did you want to add anything?
WAYNE: Only that I agree this system is not set up for doing it from another country’s perspective. You could do it. I would suggest that it depends who your student audience is. Maybe doing it from the perspective of countries that are often partnered with us, if you’re doing it for Americans that are mid-level—like France, the U.K., Germany, Japan would be interesting. But you’d have to have a whole set of background materials prepared, I think, for them to read a bit ahead of time, because that does come into play when you’re trying to build coalitions. There are only certain things that certain people can do. And it’s useful to understand that.
I guess the other thing I would say is, sure, this would be great for mid-career. I spent a lot of my time trying to put little parts of this lesson into my daily or weekly discussions with my leadership team at various embassies or in different bureaus, because people forget about it. They forget about what they might have learned at some point in college, even if they are professionals in this—in the field of diplomacy or in my defense attaché’s office, or especially in my—in the ICE office or something else, where they haven’t had this kind of training, is to get these perspectives of what others are thinking about what we are doing and how decisions are actually made, both in our government but in other people’s governments too.
It’s an interaction of all sorts of different actors and interests. And there’s a political policy process on each side, or on many sides, that’s going on at the same time. And a lot—but a lot of these principles are the same ones, even if you are French, or American, or Japanese—with a few little twists and turns of the way people interact and the way people made decisions.
STANGER: Yeah. Just a brief comment, because your question really made me think. And as I’m thinking it through, I think you could easily adapt this to simulate the foreign policy process of another country. All you’d have to do is you’d have to have background materials on what the institutions are in that country. And then you can customize any simulation to add whatever rules you wanted. So you just create different roles depending on the foreign policy process of that country. And much of the other materials would be completely relevant about the particular crisis situation. So you could turn it into “Borgen,” if you—if you wanted it, if anybody knows that television series, yeah.
Other questions? Yes, right back there. There’s a whole bunch. Should we maybe piggy back some of them?
WAYNE: Yeah. Sure.
LYON: Take two at a time.
OSGOOD: Ken Osgood, Colorado School of Mines.
So I thought I’d share in something I’ve done that’s very similar, and then also use that as a segue into questions. So I’m a historian and teach the history of U.S. foreign relations. And so I’ve done—I’ve simulated exercises where at the end of a course on diplomatic history I’ve asked students to prepare a briefing paper arguing—pick a given historical issue, and arguing that we should have taken a different approach. And they have to do that from—they have to identify a given person within the administration which they’re going to represent, and that person’s going to argue for a particular position. So that requires them to get into how that decision was made, and all that kind of stuff. And it’s been—it’s been very effective and very fun. Another thing I have done is I had them study the Cuban Missile Crisis as a detailed case study, and then in fact reenact an ExComm meeting. And they would follow in detail the individual players. And they have to become—each person, we were reading the Kennedy tapes—and so each person actually had to follow a particular character and then be that character. And it was a great way of kind of reinforcing the whole thing.
So that leads to my question is, how do you use history to augment your teaching? Are there ways? And I’ll publicly say it would be great if CFR would develop some historical case studies to use in this format, because it sounds awesome.
STANGER: That’s an interesting point, yeah.
WAYNE: Are you going to take two questions?
STANGER: Should we take another one? Because I know there are a lot of hands. And maybe we can address questions simultaneously? Take one more? How about—how about way back there. I haven’t hit that part of the room yet.
CORMACK: Hi. Lindsey Cormack, Stevens Institute of Technology.
If you only had the opportunity to run one iteration and you couldn’t let people cycle through different roles, how would you assign it? Like, would they apply for a certain role that they thought they’d want to do, or do you randomly let them—or do you randomly chose for them what role they’re going to play?
STANGER: Great questions. I’ll just say one brief comment on choosing people for roles. I have the advantage of having—teaching American foreign policy at Middlebury College. And a lot of those students go on to take crisis diplomacy. So what I would typically do is pick for the really important roles—such as national security advisor and the president—seasoned students that I know for the first simulation are going to elevate the game and make sure things go smoothly as others learn. But then I’ve also asked them to volunteer for roles. And, you know, in my would I would think that everybody would want to be president or national security advisor but, you know what, they don’t. It actually works out quite well. So you can do that as well.
ARCHULETA: So, to address your question about incorporating history, I—while I’m a policy and bureaucracy scholar, I dabble in American political development. And so I always ensure that my cadets include policy history sections of background sections on the memos. And then we start every simulation, the national security advisor will give a history backgrounder for the president very briefly, as he walks in the room. Mr. President, you may not be familiar with X, Y, and Z. Trying to help everyone get on the same page as to how we got here. So, in short, history matters. And I do everything I can to impart that onto the cadets.
And in terms of how I select people, more often than not it’s random, the way I do it. I’ll find a cadet who clearly has articulated multilateral perspectives. And they’re going to be the ambassador to the U.N. or they’re going to be the State Department. If I have a Wilsonian in the classroom who’s a realistic, they might become the secretary of the Treasury. But I want the brightest cadets to—who espouse these values—to well-articulate them in the simulation. I would prefer not to have people sandbag an argument because they really don’t believe in it. But I think there is intellectual rigor in enforcing an isolationist to be the secretary of state.
LYON: So in spite—Brandon, I think that my approach is almost opposite. (Laughs.) In terms of assigning roles, there’s been two different approaches. In the face-to-face class, I usually do a lottery. So I’ll show up with a basket with numbers in it, and I go around and everybody picks out a number, and whatever number you pick, then here’s the list of roles in front of you and you get top pick. So sometimes that’s random. But they also self-select. So that certain characters will always want to be—you know, they tend—and it’s surprising sometimes who wants to be president and who wants to be, you know, a representative of the State Department and stuff.
So I try to—and I actually think, and this probably comes from my experience with Model United Nations, is that you put your name in for a particular country and oftentimes, especially at the national and international conferences, you get what you get. And you have to represent. And you’re put in the professional position that your own personal perspectives are not relevant, and you really have to do your very best to represent the interests or the role of the country that you’ve been in. And so I like to put them in those uncomfortable positions. And I assess them on the authentic level of their role portrayal. So I think that that’s important.
In the online environment, it was kind of a first-come, first—give me your first three, you know, that they posted on a discussion board. And then I just kind of went down the list. And it was really flying blind. It was a little—I was very nervous in front of that—you know, going into that particular one because I didn’t know these students, you know, face-to-face, and we had to start the process right away because the J term that I teach is three weeks. So they had to get there, you know, before their even first quiz or any engagement with me, I had to give them their assignments so that they could start their process and start working on doing that particular research.
So, but it worked out well. I haven’t had a situation where I felt—I did have one president not turn in his—(laughs)—and I had to, you know, say the entire class is waiting for you. They can’t do their debrief and their assessment until you’ve made your decisions and put together this document. And so it was—the peer pressure was nice.
In terms of history, the question about history, I think every single one of these cases builds on history. And you can dive quite deep. And the content goes very deep. And, you know, for me—you know, we can’t talk about Iran without going back to 1956 and Mossadegh, and even beyond that, right? We need to talk about colonial experiences whenever we’re dealing with most the places on the planet. We need to be talking about, you know, the creation of multilateral institutions and the—you know, when I talk—for example, when we talked about Sudan, I had to talk about U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 and the humanitarian intervention in northern Iraq immediately following the Persian Gulf War, right?
So that—there is a cumulative understanding of the historical, cultural, geopolitical context that I hope that the students distill from these experiences. And it’s in this content. And you can bring more if you feel, you know, you have experience in a particular case and want to push them further. I think that that’s—it’s a wonderful way to complement this.
WAYNE: Yeah. I do think that there is history built into the content. There could always be more. And it’s richer if your students have more opportunity to delve a little bit deeper. But it depends on the structure of your course and how much time you have to look into different cases. But history, of course, informs it. And understanding cultural differences that are tied to history is really important also, depending if you’re doing the South China Sea and you’re talking about dealing with the Chinese or if you’re in the Baltics and you’re talking about dealing with the Russians. It’s important they get at least some basic sense of that whole different cultural view of looking at the world.
Then on selecting—if you only have one—if you’re only going to do one version, I think the key person to pick is the national security advisor, because they need to moderate and keep the decision going. So that has to be a wise choice. And then otherwise, I would just take volunteers. And if you know that somebody has volunteered for Treasury and they have an international—they’ve taken some international economics, that’s a big help because there were some people that went in the Treasury Department, they didn’t have any idea what the Treasury Department did. (Laughter.) And but the ones who had taken international economics and knew it were super. And so, you know, that’s just the reality. You wouldn’t appoint a secretary of Treasury who’d grown up as a farmer.
WAYNE: You might have had Paul O’Neill, whose dad was a plumber—and he would repeat that all the time. But even he had run a big company. Anyway, but so it does help—I think reflecting people’s interests will get them to be more interested. Reflecting some of their background is important. But that national security advisor needs to keep the decision going, needs to temper the fights, and needs to understand that they aren’t supposed to be offering opinions really assertively in the discussion. And most people agree that some of—one of the best models of a national security advisor was Brent Scowcroft. And you had to really listen to figure out what his opinion was. He would—he’d sort of get out there if you’d hear him say it, but he was letting every—he was about letting everybody else talk, and then trying to see if he could help maneuver them to a couple of options, or one option for the president to make a decision. So that is a key choice that you make.
STANGER: We’re running into our closing moments. What I thought we might do is go to the back of the room and cluster a couple questions. Are there some back there that we could do? Yeah, right there there’s one. Why don’t you choose them? You can see better, yeah.
BOWDEN: Hello. I’m Shannon Bowden from Mississippi Valley State University.
My question—I think it’s an excellent model that could be incorporated in a public speaking course. And I know you touched bases on that course. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the public speaking class?
STANGER: Oh, yes. OK, we’ll take a couple more.
PAUL: Hello. I’m Ruxandra Paul from Amherst College and Harvard University.
Thank you so much for a very thought-provoking and inspiring session. I learned a lot from it. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us some of the main challenges you’ve encountered while teaching in this format. And since you’ve taught these classes in various iterations, what did you do to overcome these in subsequent iterations? Thank you.
STANGER: Mmm hmm. Great questions.
GELSDORF: Hi. I’m Kirsten Gelsdorf from the University of Virginia Batten School of Public Policy.
I was just curious about some of the learning outcomes, and how you kind of measure some—I know you talked about how you do the grading and the rubrics, but a little bit about just your—the learning outcomes.
STANGER: Great. All right. Who’d like to begin?
ARCHULETA: I’ll just go quickly. So in terms of—Shannon, in terms of public speaking, I’ll push them to more clearly articulate an argument. I’m not sure I formally evaluate it, but I might say: Is that really the argument that the secretary of state would make in this particular case? Are you not thinking about X, Y, and Z? And then take a moment, write it down, and then represent. So I’d be interested to hear more about Allison’s rhetoric coach.
In terms of challenges in the classroom, the first was the technology. A lot of glitches in the technology, trying to work through that with cadets remotely. And then I think they more or less figured all that stuff out. And now it’s just simply time. And that’s an internal constraint, the way we’ve structured our course. It’s not about anything else. It’s that we just have a full syllabus. And I wish I had more time to devote to this really rich program.
And then in terms of learning outcomes, so mine is very informal. And it’s measured by what I call beer and bureaucracy. So every couple of weeks I get my cadets together, my seniors together for what I call beer and bureaucracy Thursday night at the first class club. And we just sort of talk and I get their informal feedback. And what I find remarkable is that they’re so much more well-versed on this particular issue, and they feel so much more competent. Alynna mentioned they feel empowered by this knowledge. And there’s something to be said for college students learning and socializing and dialoguing over drinks or dinner and how that impacts their learning. And so it’s quite informal and it’s anecdotal, but I found it helpful.
LYON: So, in terms of the public speaking, you know, it’s—I usually tell the students going into this, because there is a lot of uncertainty and there is sometime trepidation, which is also one of the challenges to build upon the second, about going in and doing—you know, this isn’t something that’s familiar to a lot of them. And I tell them, one, this is normal. You’re going to walk in, you’re going to feel—there’s going to be a level of anxiety. You’re not going to know what’s going on. You know, you’re not going to know exactly how it’s going to go. And that’s completely normal. And so allow yourself to feel that. You have prepared. You have statements in front of you. And so usually we begin with written statements, so that they’re basically talking—you know, they’re just talking points are right in front of them, so they can kind of ease into it a little bit.
And the—I think one of the challenges—and this is where the NSA is so important to it, and I really think that that point is excellent—is there will be some that will want to talk—they are public speakers. And they will want to dominate and really get in there. And to balance voices and to provide—you know, to encourage those people who might be on the shyer side or a little bit more uncertain about their position. But I think it’s really a wonderful skillset that they’re developing.
In terms of challenges—so a couple ones. You know, for me, whenever I’m doing something of this magnitude in the classroom, the challenge comes to me to really do the homework beforehand. This is one of those assignments—and I strong encourage you to engage, you know, the website and think about it, and how you’re going to put that forward, and to be as clear as you possibly can prior to creating the assignment. And there are lots of resources out there to help you do that. But so one of the challenges for me is just making the time beforehand to make the assignment, to make it as clear, to make the expectations for the students very clear, to make the deadlines very clear. And that creates certainty with them and that helps them.
The other challenge I will say is it’s a cut-and-paste kind of generation. And there’s lots of materials on the website. And you ask questions about those materials. And I’ve had to deal with some cut-and-paste directly from the Model Diplomacy website when I—and I’ve had to push back on them and say you can’t just cut-and-paste your answer to this question. So it’s about elevating information processing. So I guess there’s opportunities rather than challenges for educating about, you know, plagiarism and those types of issues. But, you know, it’s within the context of a particular question that I’m able to say, you know, this is verbatim. I need you go back and rethink this and rework that. So I would say maybe that challenge is an opportunity.
And then in terms of learning outcomes, I usually—you know, in terms of assessment of learning outcomes, that’s a little bit more challenging. But I laid them out very transparently. I have this handout that talks—and CFR, actually, the Model Diplomacy website does this as well. They have some learning outcomes that they talk about. But for me, you know, there are substantive stuff. I say: You’re going to learn about the National Security Council. You’re going to learn about this particular issue. You’re going to learn about bureaucratic process. You’re going to learn about decision making. You’re going to learn about how personalities may matter in these situations. You’re going to learn about how roles define positions.
And so there’s a lot of that content. But then there’s also information processing, right, and how to distill that content that’s online and those vignettes in the videos and all of that, and then make something yours and authentically yours. And so there’s that. And then there are obviously writing skills and learning to be brief and succinct. And then there are persuasion skills. And so you know, there’s a lot—there’s a lot of bang in this particular assignment that you can hit so many different points.
STANGER: Very quickly, because we’re out of time. Yeah.
WAYNE: OK. Alynna made a lot of—made a lot of excellent points. One on public speaking: I wouldn’t say these simulations are the best thing for long public speaking, because they should be three minutes or less interventions. If it gets any longer—three minutes is even long in a National Security Council meeting. It’s just not a place for speeches. (Laughter.) But it’s like—but you have to be really succinct, you have to make your point, and it has to be clearly made, and you have to be persuasive, in that short period of time. What I did, is I followed up with a congressional hearing, where then you have a four-minute statement you had to make, either as a congressman or as somebody testifying. And there they could develop that skill a little bit more of something they’d already learned about. They could now talk about that publicly.
Again, on the lessons—I had the luxury of having class once a week, so they had to turn their homework into me the night before so I could—and then I would read it before class the next day. So either they did it, or if they didn’t turn it in they knew they were going to get a zero on their grade for not turning it in, because it was already going to take place. It couldn’t be late after the course.
And finally, on the learning outcomes that’s right, there’s just all these areas to do it. And I tried to do it by then giving them assignments periodically through where they had to separately just synthesize and write a memo to ether the national security advisor or the president about how you should do something. And that was drawing on what they had learned. And it wasn’t just about the South China Sea. It was how you should organize your decision-making process, and what you should watch out for, for example, was one of the things. So they had to synthesize from all of these discussions.
STANGER: We are unfortunately out of time. This has been a wonderful panel and a wonderful audience. Thanks to all. (Applause.)