As an immigration country, what will Germany look like ten years from now? Which paths will refugees and migrants have taken? In which ways will society, politics and the economy differ from now? Over the course of four scenario workshops … Continue
When 117 young people from 35 countries come to Germany for a five month internship in the German Parliament they bring a mix of expectations, hopes, opinions, cultures and wit with them. This in turn created an exciting challenge for … Continue
“Bustling” in the best sense of the word is how to best describe the atmosphere during the conference “No discussion – democracy and political extremism”. 165 dedicated young people had come to Nuremberg for three days to learn more about … Continue
No complex of topics is currently dominating German political and social discourse more than flight and asylum, integration and participation, racism and right-wing populism. Over the past few months, our interactive formats on these topics have been in great demand. They include simulation games on European asylum policy (recently played online in German and Belgian schools), interactive public conferences on issues such as the integration of refugees, training courses for people working in refugee centres, scenario workshops for experts on the future of immigration in Germany, a flight simulation (not in the aeronautic sense…) including deals with traffickers, border controls at the EU’s external border and meeting decision makers from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Starting in June, we will have a dedicated „Flight and Integration“ sector. Sandra Holtermann and Christopher Haarbeck will be in charge of running its day-to-day business, advising interested partners and developing strategies.
When Bayer HealthCare commissioned us to develop a simulation game on haemophilia last autumn, we found ourselves in virgin territory. The game depicts how competing ideas for products in the development of medication are evaluated and why certain products prevail over others. Closely working with the Bayer team over several rounds of adjustments paid off: by now, „How to Develop Novel Therapies ‐ New Ways for Hemophilia“ has been played in Boston, Moscow, Buenos Aires and Bogota, thereby becoming our most international simulation game! At the time of writing, the game materials are being translated into Spanish to allow for further use in Latin America.
The game’s success has, of course, made us very happy, even more so since Bayer Healthcare commissioned a new simulation in early May. This time, we are talking about cancer medication. As before, four products are competing against each other. It will be the participants’ task to evaluate the pros and cons of each idea and then spend their money accordingly. In the second half of this year, the game will receive its premiere at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.
Europe is where people from different countries meet. Of course, different experiential backgrounds and expectations can lead to intercultural conflict. An EU-funded project on German-Czech youth movements, facilitated by Chemnitz-based organisation “Most – Die Brücke e.V.“, addresses possible ways of approaching such conflicts. We take an advisory role in this project: in cooperation with the Chemnitz Media Institute, we are helping develop a simulation. We have provided the idea, the concept and a scenario while the Media Institute is in charge of developing the game.
The result is our first game on intercultural conflict! At a first glance it appears to be a simulation game on the development of an advertising campaign for a new homework app. However, digging a little deeper, the core of the game addresses intercultural conflicts between the employees of two companies whose approaches to work and communication differ widely while having to work together. The key issue is the way in which the participants deal with conflicts and what this teaches them about tolerance and respect towards people with a different view. The target group are 11-to-14-year-olds from Saxony and the Czech Republic – it is our modest contribution to a more peaceful coexistence across borders.
Following three very successful test runs in Chemnitz, the game is now being completed. During two training sessions, trainers will learn how to facilitate the game themselves.
At the end of June, the department for political science and didactics of politics at the University of Göttingen will host the conference „Teaching EU politics at primary school?! (Approaches and methods tested)” as part of the Jean Monnet project „Simulation Games for an action-oriented conveyance of the EU at primary school level“. At the conference, our colleagues Annegret Schneider, Helen Böhmler, Marlen Richter und Alexandra Ochs will introduce our PEP simulation game for conveying the EU at primary school level. Further presentations include the evaluation of the simulation games, results of several studies and general discussions on approaching political education at primary level. You are cordially invited to take part in the conference.
For the first time in its young history, our simulation game platform saw pupils from two European countries play together online. Initiated and financed by the European Information Centre in Lower Saxony, a total of 35 pupils aged 16 to 18 from Josephinum high school in Hildesheim and the German School Brussels engaged in negotiations about asylum policy. The premiere was a success: the kids not only engaged intensely with the game process, making deals and playfully learning about European lawmaking, they also had a lot of border-transcending fun. Little wonder that teachers and participants have already been enquiring a new round of the game. Should this take place, we will tweak the international coordination mechanisms a little to ensure that participants on all levels are up to date on all relevant information at all times.
What happens when more than 700 youngsters gather at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to develop unconventional ideas for the future of Europe, as they did for the ten ideas labs at this year’s European Youth Event? Well, they certainly do produce some unconventional ideas! Even though the „plastic eating animal“ or the „extraterrestrial enemy to unite us all“ probably weren’t meant to be taken entirely seriously, most ideas were rather convincing. Education and an increase to Europe-wide exchange were on top of the agenda, whether in the fight against terrorism or in aiming for a waste-free economic cycle. This was good news to all of us dealing in education and exchange on a daily basis! We’re clearly not out of a job just yet.
For us, the time in Strasbourg was also a little company outing of sorts since our team comprised 12 employees and freelancers. The only ones to remain in Berlin were the software team, but they were in constant contact with Strasbourg. After all, we used the newest version of our conference app in the ideas labs and it exceeded all out expectations. We now have a software allowing users to pick up on ideas and moods during an event and evaluate and coordinate them. After months of preparation and two days in Strasbourg, we can report that EYE 2016 was a complete success.
Turbulent times are usually ripe with anti-democratic conspiracy theories. In order to alert youngsters around the age of 15 to the dangers of such theories, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation approached us in the autumn of 2015 and asked for the development of a slightly unusual simulation game.
In the fictional scenario, the frequent discovery of so-called ground holes is causing concern. Is it a natural disaster? Is mankind under attack? Or is it all a coincidence? The game allows the participants to develop and defend different explanations, thereby providing them with insight into mechanisms and functions of pseudo-science. During the evaluation, they develop joint strategies for dealing with conspiracy tales and potential believers among friends and family.
Unsurprisingly, reflecting these strongly psychological processes in a simulation game was challenging and required a little more brainstorming than usual. But it was worth it, for what is surely the craziest game we have ever written turned out to be a resounding success in its test run at KGS Halle (Saale). The final materials will be completed and submitted to the Amadeu Antonio Foundation by end of June.
Some events are bigger than others – a suitable tagline for the introductory seminar on “Pluralism in Germany” for 117 international Parliamentary scholars of the German Parliament. For ten days, a seven-strong planpolitik team decamped to the almost rural Berlin suburb of Schmöckwitz to pull out all the stops with their range of methodological skills. Having split the scholarship holders into two groups, we spent five days with each group, going through different formats, intercultural training, simulation games, workshops and an excursion to central Berlin. One of the highlights: a conversation with a rabbi and an imam about the life of religious minorities in Germany and antisemitism. The participants discussed, negotiated, laughed, worked creatively and learnt a lot. In between sessions, there was table tennis, swimming in the ice cold Zeuthen lake, a lot of traditional German food and the odd cool draft beer. For us and all participants, the two “pluralism nights” marked the main highlight, celebrating what all those present had in common: openness, curiosity, creativity. And the joy in a diversity of ideas and ways of living, making life as a whole colourful, full of variation and worth living.
“How to instil enthusiasm for politics in ninth graders?” North Rhine-Westphalia’s Centre for Political Education asked us, and we answered by creating a simulation game about EU asylum policies aimed specifically at this target group. It was important to create materials that can be used in all types of school.
This meant avoiding difficult terminologies and keeping role profiles short and appealing. Depending on the level of literacy, a position’s summary or longer explanatory passages can be used as a source of information. As the game progresses, so does the level of difficulty: For the initial question of how to distribute refugees within the EU, one out of three options has to be chosen. Later on, when discussing the subsequent immigration of family members, the pupils have to haggle over exact wordings.
Our two test games at the integrated comprehensive Gesamtschule Gelsenkirchen-Buer were among our highlights in the month of March. Not only did the materials and the game concept pass the test. There were even some participants at the end of the game who could “actually imagine going into politics”.
On the 23rd of April we will conclude this project with a train-of-trainers workshop. From then on, the Centre for Political Education team will be facilitating the game in schools all over North Rhine-Westphalia.
Many of our events and simulation games explain how European institutions, law-making and politics work. But in times of multiple crises threatening the EU, one question is becoming increasingly important: what keeps Europe together? Why and under which auspices should the EU states cooperate? In partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, we created a workshop for interested citizens, addressing these questions. At the same time, we are working on further ideas for projects and event formats – we look forward to your input and ideas!
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