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Student Instructor

Pedagogy and Learning

Model Diplomacy uses a variety of pedagogical tools to create an effective, meaningful, and memorable learning experience for students.

Each Model Diplomacy case study explores a specific set of issues and region of the world. These concepts are highlighted in each case’s description in the case library. No matter which case is chosen, students will become familiar with the tools of diplomacy.

All the issues included can be explored within the context of U.S. foreign policy through a National Security Council (NSC) simulation, which gives students a chance to understand how foreign policy is made, including the role of each institution and the interagency process, and to explore the role of the United States in the world. Some issues can also be explored in the context of global diplomacy through a UN Security Council (UNSC) simulation, which gives students a chance to understand how the United Nations makes policy and explore its role in world affairs.

Project-Based Learning

Model Diplomacy is a project-based learning activity. Project-based learning (PBL) leads to better learning outcomes and improves skills, and is more fun than traditional instructional methods.

Students are engaged in Model Diplomacy because the problems feel real. The simulations are based on either historical scenarios or hypothetical scenarios that wouldn’t be surprising to see on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

There are no right or wrong answers in actual NSC or UNSC deliberations, and there are none here, either. With guidance from the Model Diplomacy website, students will research the NSC or UNSC, the selected case, and their assigned role, formulating their own opinions on policy options.

Students will complete authentic assessments that feel relevant: instead of five-paragraph essays and book reports that bear little resemblance to tasks required in life outside of school, students write policy memos and participate in a role-play of a meeting of a foreign policy–making body, as if they were working in the government or the United Nations.

When the role-play is over, we will help you guide students through a reflection on the process, drawing connections between the role-play they have just conducted and real life.

Most of all, Model Diplomacy is fun. Your students will work on authentic tasks that mimic real life. They will be engaged and excited.


Twenty-First-Century Skills

In Model Diplomacy, students practice what many call the four Cs of twenty-first-century education:

  • Critical thinking: Faced with a complex scenario, students must research and consider options, take a position, and then discuss it with classmates who may disagree.
  • Communication: First, students communicate their position by writing a policy memo. Then, in the role-play they must think and speak on their feet—listening, responding, supporting, and questioning.
  • Collaboration: Model Diplomacy is not a competition. In the role-play, every participant around the table is working to reach a common goal: coming up with the best policy to address the issue at hand. If you have a large class or want to promote even more collaboration, you can assign roles to pairs or small teams who must work together to research and take a position.
  • Creativity: There is no set path or predetermined end point to the simulation. Although we offer some policy options, students can and often do produce their own options. Flash points can be added to the exercise, creating opportunities for additional creative problem-solving on the fly.


Civic Knowledge and Skills

Students come away from Model Diplomacy with an appreciation for the complexity of policy questions and an understanding of the issues, institutions, and processes involved in making foreign policy decisions. They come away armed with research and communication skills, and with experience bridging differences and reaching a collaborative conclusion.