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About Model Diplomacy

Model Diplomacy is a free simulation program that invites students, educators, and professionals from a variety of backgrounds to step into the roles of decision-makers on the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) or UN Security Council.


In 2021, Model Diplomacy was selected as one of 10 Best Social Studies Tools for High School by Common Sense Media

"This impressive program has ready-to-use and expert-vetted content that'll help advanced students engage meaningfully with foreign policy issues and processes." 

– Common Sense Media

Classroom Ready

Used in all fifty states and over one hundred countries by high schools, colleges and universities, military academies, international organizations, and the U.S. and foreign governments, Model Diplomacy delivers compelling interactive materials to meet a range of curricular goals. Model Diplomacy offers a robust library of eighteen case studies, simulating both the U.S. National Security Council and the UN Security Council, covering pressing historical and hypothetical diplomatic issues. Each case has accompanying teaching notes and is created in consultation with Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) experts. Model Diplomacy also offers pop-up cases—short, one-page scenarios based on issues reverberating in the news today, designed to require less preparation and time. Instructors can quickly set up a simulation with a few clicks or customize a simulation to meet their exact needs. Every semester, countless instructors and professionals benefit from the free resources Model Diplomacy provides.

Twenty-First-Century Learning

Dynamic, in-person role-play lets students see policymaking and negotiation in action, while thorough case studies allow students to explore issues rooted in everything from international relations and history to public health and climate science to demographics and economics. In addition to learning about the issues, institutions, and processes involved in foreign policymaking, students who participate in a Model Diplomacy simulation build critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills, all while preparing to be informed and active citizens.

Assistant Professor Okoh at the University of Akron (©Lauren Collins)
Assistant Professor Okoh at the University of Akron - Lauren Collins
Council on Foreign Relations Office

About CFR

CFR is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. 

Interested in more CFR Education products? World101 offers a growing library of multimedia explainers that teach complex international affairs concepts and foreign policymaking processes through entertaining, interactive storytelling techniques. This immersive experience is appropriate for a variety of settings—classrooms, corporate training rooms, or home. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Model Diplomacy


Why did the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) create Model Diplomacy?
Model Diplomacy, along with World101, is a product of CFR Education, an initiative designed to help college and high school students, educators, and others develop the knowledge, skills, and perspectives required to be informed citizens and successful professionals in today’s interconnected world.


How much does Model Diplomacy cost?
Model Diplomacy is completely free of charge, to make it as accessible as possible across secondary and higher education.


How do I start a simulation?
If you haven’t already, the first step to using Model Diplomacy is creating an instructor account. Once you have created an account, you will be able to select a case and create a simulation. More details on how to start and run simulations for your class can be found in the Model Diplomacy Instructor Guide.


Can I use Model Diplomacy in an online classroom?
Although Model Diplomacy was originally conceived as a blended learning experience involving both an online component and in-class role-play, it can be run as a fully online experience. For more information on how to run a simulation remotely, please consult the Model Diplomacy Instructor Guide.


I am not an instructor. Can I still use Model Diplomacy?
Although Model Diplomacy is a classroom program designed to help instructors teach college and high school students in a facilitated setting, it can be useful for many other groups as well. As long as at least one group member plays the role of facilitator, you will be able to run a simulation. Student-led groups, corporate training programs, retirement communities, and many others have all used Model Diplomacy successfully. If you are looking for resources for self-study, CFR Education produces World101, a website that explains the fundamentals of international relations.

Can I use Model Diplomacy without internet access?

All of our case content can be printed for offline use. To print out case materials, go to a simulation’s overview page and click the “Print All Case Sections” button. Contact us at [email protected] if there are other ways we can help you to use Model Diplomacy in a technology-restricted or web-restricted classroom.

How does Model Diplomacy differ from Model United Nations (Model UN)?
Model Diplomacy is designed as a facilitated classroom simulation, rather than a multi-institutional extracurricular activity. With NSC simulations, Model Diplomacy allows participants to focus on the U.S. National Security Council, not the United Nations, and teaches them about the diverse perspectives that exist within the U.S. foreign policymaking system. UN Security Council simulations, though they mimic the United Nations, focus specifically on the Security Council’s role in international affairs and offer a more realistic approximation of UN proceedings than Model UN. Model Diplomacy is a blended learning program that includes face-to-face interaction, online resources from foreign policy experts, assessments, and facilitation tools.


What kinds of classes and activities is Model Diplomacy appropriate for?
Model Diplomacy simulations are designed to be adapted to a variety of courses. The rigor of a simulation is easily adjusted by choosing between basic and advanced cases or choosing to assign or forgo assessments and additional readings. This flexibility allows simulations to be run successfully at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level. Moreover, Model Diplomacy’s robust case library allows simulations to be customized for different subjects, including history, region and area studies, economics, public health, and more. Model Diplomacy simulations can also be facilitated in a non-classroom setting; student-led groups, corporate training programs, retirement communities, and many others have all used Model Diplomacy successfully. 

What is the difference between a basic and an advanced simulation?
Model Diplomacy simulations are built to be flexible; they can be easily modified to suit your class level and align with existing curricula. Basic cases are shorter and use simpler language, making them more suitable for younger students, students with less background knowledge of the case topic, or for classes conducting a simulation in a short amount of time. Advanced cases provide more in-depth material and use more complex language. They are suitable for older students, students with a background in international relations, and students who can handle a greater quantity of background material. If you are looking to run a simulation requiring little or no preparation, Model Diplomacy also offers pop-up cases, which are designed to allow students to simulate the most current events and can be run with less time and preparation than a full case would require. Please visit the Model Diplomacy pop-up case collection for more information.

What is the difference between a National Security Council (NSC) and a UN Security Council (UNSC) simulation?
National Security Council simulations model the U.S. foreign policymaking process, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of the complex interests and concerns of the process. UN Security Council simulations take a global perspective, allowing students to play the roles of countries on the UN Security Council. In these simulations, students navigate the diverging goals of these countries as they attempt to forge a consensus. By simulating the UN Security Council, students gain a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of international cooperation. Both versions of a given case include background content, research materials, and assessments tailored to the respective body.


What are pop-up cases?
Pop-up cases are short case studies on current events that put students in the shoes of policymakers facing the most pressing issues in international relations. They are designed to allow students to simulate the most current events and can be run with less time and preparation than a full case would require. If you are interested in using pop-up cases, please visit the Model Diplomacy pop-up case collection.

How many Students can a Model Diplomacy simulation include?
Instructors have successfully used Model Diplomacy in classes with just a few students and those with more than fifty students. Roles can be played by individual students or represented by teams. Another option is to remove the roles and have students deliberate from their perspectives as general advisors to the president. The Model Diplomacy Instructor Guide provides additional tips on assigning and customizing roles for your selected case.

How long does a simulation take?
Model Diplomacy can last as little as one class period and as long as nine weeks of class time. In a shorter simulation, instructors can assign only the case materials, forgoing assessments or background research. In longer simulations, instructors can give students time to research the issue and their roles for a deeper and more nuanced role-play.

Who writes the case studies?
Model Diplomacy simulations are developed by CFR experts with the support of the Education team. These experts are well-known scholars with deep experience in the issues and regions covered. Many come from high-level government service.

How are the case studies chosen?
We choose case studies that highlight issues of global importance, reflect current concerns on the global foreign policy agenda, and are likely to remain relevant for the foreseeable future. Each of our case studies uses an existing international policy issue and creates a hypothetical decision point around it.


Where can I get updates on new Model Diplomacy simulations and resources? 
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Where can I find out about Model Diplomacy’s permissions and privacy policies?
Visit our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for more information on Model Diplomacy’s permissions and privacy policies. Model Diplomacy does not share your personal information with any party outside CFR and its affiliates or service providers. All information collected, including what you provide when registering and creating a new simulation, is used only to further develop and improve the Model Diplomacy experience. If you are interested in adopting Model Diplomacy in your school, email us at [email protected] for more information.