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What should the United States do if a disease in a foreign city threatens an outbreak here and around the world? Should the United States support democracies elsewhere? If an ally or partner is threatened, what is the proper U.S. response? Convene the Council, a new game from iCivics and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), encourages students to grapple with critical questions, using digital gameplay to teach important foreign policy and global civics lessons in an engaging way.
In Convene the Council, students play the role of president of the United States, navigating a range of U.S. foreign policy issues from the White House Situation Room. The game poses fictional foreign policy scenarios that resemble those in the real world and challenges students to use critical thinking skills to determine how the United States should respond based on recommendations from the president’s closest advisors. Players must navigate the difficult balance between foreign and domestic needs and determine the course of action they believe best supports U.S. interests and values, all while considering how their policy decisions might play out internationally and how the U.S. public might respond.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it all too evident that policymakers in the United States must work collaboratively with leaders across the world to meet challenges that know no borders. Now, more than ever, the youth in this country must possess a foundational understanding of the world and how it works,” said CFR President Richard Haass.
The partnership between iCivics and CFR brings together the country’s leading provider of civic education content and the country’s leading organization on foreign policy. iCivics’ games and resources have been played more than 150 million times over the past decade. The addition of
Convene the Council is an acknowledgement that civics education in the twenty-first century requires a global perspective.
Convene the Council adds a new dimension to CFR’s mission to build global literacy—the knowledge, skills, and perspective required to successfully navigate today’s connected world. Born out of concern that students demonstrate gaps in global literacy, CFR is creating learning resources that explain international relations and foreign policy to high school and college students who have little or no background in these topics. For example, award-winning digital tools such as Model Diplomacy and World101 allow students to experience firsthand how government and political systems work at home and abroad. This empowers them to understand real-world issues that transcend national borders. With Convene the Council, CFR now provides learning resources for students as young as twelve.
“This game puts students at the center of global civics issues, and helps them to grasp the interrelatedness of domestic and foreign policy,” said iCivics Executive Director Louise Dubé. “It represents an important collaboration between leaders in civics and foreign affairs, merging iCivics’ expertise in making civic education engaging and relevant through game design and effective pedagogy with CFR’s expertise in foreign policy. Together, we have translated the most critical aspects of foreign policy into a fun and educational game.”
The game is free and is also offered in Spanish.