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Student Instructor

Guide to a Simulation

Every case is divided into four sections.

Section 1: NSC or UNSC Guide

Section 1 is designed to explain the body that students will be simulating, including its history, how it works, and its members. For advanced cases, there is also a timeline that looks at the history of the body in detail. In all cases, there is a glossary of key terms and a short-answer assessment that the instructor can choose to include or not include when building a simulation.

Both the NSC and UNSC guides include an overview video, featuring interviews with experts who have served on the body, and links to resources for learning more—in case students are curious or instructors want to assign more reading.


Section 2: Case Notes

Section 2 contains the actual case study. The exact makeup of Section 2 varies between NSC and UNSC cases, between basic and advanced versions, and between hypothetical and historical cases.

In all cases, the introduction to Section 2 has a clear decision point: the question that students will debate during the role-play. The question is followed by detailed background material and a discussion of the role that the United States (in an NSC case) or the United Nations (in a UNSC case) plays. As in Section 1, all cases have a glossary of key terms and a short-answer assessment that the instructor can choose to include or not include when building a simulation, as well as links to additional readings and videos.


Section 3: Role-Play

Section 3 walks students through how to prepare for and conduct the role-play. The role-play for all NSC cases is structured the same. Similarly, all UNSC role-plays are structured in the same way. This section is the heart of the Model Diplomacy simulation: students, playing the role of NSC or UNSC members, will debate policy options and work toward a response to the case’s decision point.

First, students have access to role guidance that includes a role description, suggested research questions, and resources to help inform a student’s assigned role. This guidance is followed by more general guidelines for research and preparation, including a case-specific reading list and research tips. The third section features assessment instructions and a sample position memo (for NSC cases) or draft clause (for UNSC cases). Finally, the section on the role-play itself walks students through the format and procedure of the in-class discussion.

You, as the instructor, may lead the discussion or act as an observer while students lead it. What role you take on depends on how you will assign roles to your students. We have some detailed tips for whomever runs the role-play, be it instructor or student.

It is helpful to set some norms ahead of time, such as respectful disagreement, seriousness of purpose, and the importance of coming to the table well prepared. It is also helpful to set up the room to be conducive to discussion: arrange seats in a horseshoe, circle, or square, and print placards for your students using the tool found in the simulation manager. If students will not have access to the Model Diplomacy website during the role-play, it is also helpful to project Section 3.4, or write on a board the length and purpose of each round.


Section 4: Wrap-Up

Reflection is critical to any learning process, and Section 4 walks students through the process of debriefing the simulation. All cases include a framework for reflecting on the role-play while students are still sitting around the table in person, as well as guidelines for a written reflection. In historical cases, there is also a section describing how real policymakers actually responded to the case’s decision point. Finally, there is a survey so you can let us know how your simulation went and pass on any comments or suggestions you have so we can make Model Diplomacy better.