For the fourth time, planpolitik travelled to Junge Islam Konferenz (JIK) with a simulation game. After Berlin and Hamburg, it was the city of Kiel’s turn this time, in whose town hall JIK Schleswig-Holstein took place. In a traditional Hanseatic atmosphere 29 conference participants, among them five Syrian refugees, played our simulation game on the topic of minority rights. It addresses fundamental issues of living together in a pluralist society. The day culminated in a conversation with Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister, Thorsten Albig, who discussed the role of Islam in Germany with the participants.
“Bustling” is a good word to describe the atmosphere at the youth conference “ No Discussion – Democracy and Political Extremism”. At the end of January, 165 young people from all over Germany gathered in Nurnberg at the invitation of the Federal Agency for Political Education. Their aim was to spend three days learning more about forms of political extremism, yet not in a classic conference format but through an invigorating programme that was designed to spark exchange. Our job was to moderate the overall event and to develop a concept for the opening of the conference. Using three mini role plays, possible ways to react to apparent radicalisation were explored. Following directly on from the role plays the participants used the Conference App – our latest software development – to state how they would have acted in the situation that had been described. The result: the majority does not shy away from discussion and always wants to look for ways to talk when suspicion arises.
The following day was reserved for presentations, workshops and a drama game. The evening was all about the Democracy Slam – six slammers impressed the audiences with their language skills. Sunday morning saw participants get active themselves – and with this inspiration and motivation, everyone travelled back to their respective corners of the country.
Over the past few months we’ve been lucky enough to develop numerous simulation games on commission from businesses, institutions or as part of a project. This development marathon began in the autumn, when we created the simulation game “Haemophilia” for Bayer Healthcare. The game has since been used in training courses worldwide. Currently, we are working on another five games, four of which are targeting pupils of around 15 or above: As part of the ImTeaM4EU project, we are writing a simulation game about a fictional, transnational European region where representatives of two countries are negotiating the expansion of the energy network. On commission from North-Rhine-Westphalia’s Agency for Political Education we are working on a game on the topic of “Asylum Policy in the European Union” which multipliers will be facilitating at schools in that region. The European Academy Berlin, on the other hand, has asked us to develop simulation games on the EU as an international actor and on the European single market for their project “Europe at School”. Another European topic, but a totally different target group will be playing the newly developed version of the game “Lobbying in Brussels”: this game was developed for the International Labour Organisation (ILO). We will facilitate the game ourselves in Turin in April.
At the end of September, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation asked us the following question: How can we get upper secondary level pupils to experience what it means to be a refugee fleeing their country? We immediately knew that in order to facilitate a broad learning experience we not only needed two short simulation games on the second day but also additional innovative methods prior to the games. Thus on the first day, the participants assumed the roles of refugees, traffickers, border police and decision makers at BAMF (The Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees). They experienced the interests, constraints and (illegal) activities and machinations that characterise the experience of being on the run as a refugee. Supported by informative background videos – brought to participants’ smartphones as a virtual reality app, questions such as causes of flight, refugee routes and legal issues were all addressed. One of many highlights were conversations with representatives of Jugendliche Ohne Grenzen (youth without frontiers), an organisation founded by young refugees. The Participants were able to discuss all the questions that had arisen throughout the morning with young people who were directly affected. This interactive event had our facilitators on their feet at all times – but the very positive feedback from the participants was the best reward imaginable for two days of non-stop adrenaline.
Plus the concept convinced the FES in Berlin. Accordingly, we have developed a pilot project on “Flight and migration” for Berlin schools, to be run at schools in the capital from early summer.
It’s great to continue starting partnerships with ever new organisation and institutions. But it’s equally great to celebrate 10th anniversaries. This year, there’ll be quite a few of those: for example, we have been working with Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance for ten years, offering training courses in negotiation, teambuilding, and conflict management every semester. Also in Berlin, namely at Freie Universität, we have been lecturing as part of the International Relations Online course since 2006. We are currently running our module ‘How to Bargain in International Politics’. The Evangelische Akademie Loccum, on the other hand, is a very special place to us: It’s where, way back in 2004, we facilitated our first simulation game outside university – before planpolitik even existed. This summer, we will celebrate the anniversary there by simulating the U.S. presidential elections. Another old partner is STUBE, where we regularly facilitate simulation games and other events on topics such as development policy, conflict and peace, global civil society or climate policy. Of course, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has been “with us” since the very beginning too. But it’s impossible to list all the places and formats we have worked on together here. We’d like to say thank you for a great ten years. We’re looking forward to what lies ahead!