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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.

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. The seventeen case studies and accompanying teaching notes, created in consultation with Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) experts, cover pressing historical and hypothetical diplomatic issues. 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 policy–making, 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


World101 offers a growing library of multimedia explainers that teach complex international affairs concepts and foreign policy–making processes through entertaining, interactive storytelling techniques. This immersive experience is appropriate for a variety of settings—classrooms, corporate training rooms, or home. Learn more at world101.cfr.org.

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Model Diplomacy


Why did the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) create Model Diplomacy?

Model Diplomacy is the first new resource created as part 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.


Can I use Model Diplomacy without Internet access?

Contact us at modeldiplomacy@cfr.org to discuss how 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 an instructor-facilitated classroom simulation, rather than a multi-institutional extracurricular activity. With NSC simulations, Model Diplomacy allows students 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 (UNSC) 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 classroom management tools.


For what kinds of classes is Model Diplomacy appropriate? 

Model Diplomacy simulations are designed to be adapted to a variety of courses. A simulation can be customized for different subjects by selecting from a range of case topics. The rigor of a simulation is also easily adjusted by choosing to assign or forgo additional readings and flashpoints.


I am not an instructor. Can I use Model Diplomacy for self-study?

Model Diplomacy is a classroom program created to help instructors produce learning outcomes for college and high school students. However, CFR Education is developing free online materials for everyone who would like to learn more about foreign policy and international relations. Please follow us on Twitter (@World101_CFR) for updates.


What is the difference between a basic and 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.


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 U.S. foreign policymaking 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 will navigate the diverging goals of these countries as they attempt to forge a consensus. By simulating the UN Security Council, students will 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.


Does Model Diplomacy work for classes with either more or fewer students than the twelve to fourteen distinct roles per case?

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.