This series began before planpolitik even existed: at the invitation of the the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), we have been teaching as part of a summer school at Fudan University Shanghai since 2004. In cooperation with the FU, we have since conducted similar seminars in Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Istanbul, Athens, Damascus, Amman and Teheran.
Over the years, we have played a large variety of different simulation games with the Chinese Master students, on world trade negotiations, the role of taboos in politics or a conflict over a fictional group of islands.
Before our first trip to Shanghai, we were warned that it was going to be close to impossible to play a simulation game with Chinese students since teaching at Chinese universities is very “old-school” and neither staff nor student would be ready for interactive methods. Luckily, we tried anyhow, and contrary to predictions, the students from different Chinese provinces were very enthusiastic from the word go. The simulation game became a regular part of the Shanghai summer school as well as being taken on into the entire Seasonal School programme at the Center for Global Politics at FU. By today, we have travelled to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Istanbul (Turkey), Damascus (Syria), Amman (Jordan) and Teheran (Iran). Often, the two-week courses are attended by a few students from neighbouring countries as well as from Germany.
On many occasions, choosing the game’s topic was a sensitive matter. But through exchange with the programme directors we have always found a solution for addressing sensitive issues. This often meant developing a fictional simulation game. Had we played a realistic simulation game about the conflict surrounding the Spratly islands in the South China Sea, the discussions would have been dominated by people’s own opinions or the official line. A fictional scenario, however, is much easier to debate freely, and the projection onto the real world can take place in the evaluation phase. Our experience has shown us that this often makes for more profound discussions, even on topics otherwise laden with extreme views or taboos.
The seasonal schools all over the world are always an exciting experience. When and where else would we be given the opportunity to discuss international human rights in with Iranian students or talk with Jordanians about the refugee situation in their region? And, as an added bonus, we are given the opportunity to discover the world – thanks to the Center for Global Politics…
Facts + Figures
- Various, such as
- - Understanding the mechanisms and driving forces of international politics
- - Understanding interests and positions in current inter-state and domestic conflicts and discuss options for solutions
- - Train negotiation and communication skills
Center for Global Politics, Freie Universität Berlin
Many years of cooperation have shown me that planpolitik are innovative, interculturally competent and reliable partners. During seasonal schools in China, Turkey, Iran, Vietnam and elsewhere, our international students benefit from the simulation games and interactive methods offered by planpolitik. Their way of working is highly flexible, yet always completely professional. I am looking forward to continued cooperation.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers (Center for Global Politics, Freie Universität Berlin)