The last week in August saw our return to the simulation game universe, going straight into a full-blown event marathon, starting with 12 events in just five days, taking in Berlin, Hildburghausen, Shanghai, Rostock and Bremen. On the 30th of August, almost the entire planpolitik team was active, facilitating seven simulation games simultaneously: climate negotiations, EU lobbyism, terrorism, asylum policy and three events on populism. Our topics truly reflect the current social and political challenges. Over the coming weeks and months, climate as a topic will continue to keep us busy. In the run-up to the COP23 climate summit in Bonn – presided over by the Fiji Islands – we will facilitate numerous simulation games and workshops with groups of pupils, students and experts.
A federal chancellor with pink hair streaks, a 14-year-old in a tracksuit as minister for family affairs, and a state secretary who’s only lived in Germany for two years – this was what the Federal Cabinet looked like on German Unity Day in Mainz. Our simulation game had guests to the Federal Government tent assume the roles of ministers, state secretaries and even that of the chancellor. On the whole, eight cabinets met in the cabinet chamber. Each had to discuss two draft laws, it was either compulsory vegetable production for hobby gardeners and compulsory voting or the introduction of anonymous job applications and a tax on fast food.
Using these fictional examples, the participants experienced the importance of compromise and how difficult government work can be. They got a good look „behind the scenes“, especially when Christian Schmidt, the real German Minister for Agriculture, met his simulated counterpart and gave the participants some personal insights into government business. We have fond memories of the colourful mixture of participants as well as the fantastic atmosphere in which governing took place. Many had never taken part in a simulation game before, entering the challenge feeling a little apprehensive, only to emerge all the more happy and proud. So far, simulation games are rarely a part of mass events and fairs – the Mainz experience has shown just how many people are willing to take part. Here’s hoping the number will grow!
Up and down the country and all year long, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs’ „Partnerships for Democracy“ have facilitated democracy conferences. The way each conference is implemented varies from place to place, but the goal is always the same: raising awareness of the possibilities and challenges of a democratic society, pointing to municipal areas of activity and ways to participate.
In the middle of September, the city of Langen (Hesse) invited around 800 pupils to take part in its democracy conference. Following welcoming addresses and presentations from municipal leaders, participants proceeded to gather ideas on making public space more youth-friendly. There was also the „municipal puzzle“, a new planpolitik development allowing the youngsters to get to know the tasks a municipality tends to face and create their ideal municipality. Playfully, they learned that while there are areas in which a municipality must basically follow orders from the federal level, there are also many areas which the municipality and, indeed, its citizens can help shape. Assuming different roles, the youngsters discussed possible projects: should the municipality invest money in a new hospital, or will that not leave enough for a new football pitch? Is it worth raising taxes to pay for a new cinema? In the end, one thing is clear: if we want to take all different interests into account, we need to be able to compromise. But whether you’re a pensioner or a single mum, you can have your say and help shape the community.
Even the event’s title suggested that this would be no ordinary day: “Diverse Islam vs violent Salafism. Possibilities for prevention and intervention”. This series of information events, organised by the Regional Centre for Politicial Education in North Rhine-Westphalia (LpB NRW), has two main goals. On the one hand, it offers educators and teachers an overview of different currents of Islam, not least in order to underline the diversity of religion and thus counteract possible blanket negative attributions and stereotypes towards Muslims.
On the other hand, the event aims to shed light on the dangers of violent Salafism. In order to be able to counteract these extremist aspirations decisively, possible prevention and intervention strategies for dealing with young people at risk in schools and educational institutions are presented.
Our task during the first implementation was to moderate the lectures and subsequent discussions on these complex and highly topical questions. This proved very exciting and demanding, with plenty of new territory for us. In addition, a total of 11 expert inputs across a 10-hour program presented a certain methodological challenge. Still, we are very happy to be moderating the following three events on the same topic as well.
We are excited that the European Parliament’s Information Office has commissioned us to facilitate a total of eight one-day EU simulation games at schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt in the coming months. While the two NRW dates are already booked, we are still looking for interested schools in Thuringia (1 event) and Saxony-Anhalt (2 events). The basic conditions are very simple: the offer is aimed at school classes from 10th grade onwards. You can choose from five different topics, and the event can take place anytime between now and February 2018.
Are you a school teacher with a desire to get your teeth into an EU simulation game? Get in touch with our colleague Annegret Schneider (a.schneider[at]planpolitik.de) for detailed information.