One of our classics is the workshop “Flight and asylum – global background, local challenges”. Within an intense seven hours, we provide interested citizens with compact sets of information on causes of migration, on European and German asylum policy and future integration issues. A short simulation game on “welcoming culture” (and the aggressive rejection thereof) allows participants to become active themselves and understand different perspectives. At the end of the day-long workshop, politicians and refugee workers answer questions. When, as was recently the case in Flensburg, these actors include Stefan Schmidt, former Captain of the Cap Anamur and Commissioner for Refugees in Schleswig-Holstein, this exchange really comes to life. The mix of input, interaction and exchange with politicians and civil society representatives continues to make our one-day events an intense and enriching experience for both us and the participants.
No matter what topic we throw at him, our colleague Klaus Schneider gets down to the task, does a lot of research, thinks about it briefly, rubs his nose and then puts a new simulation game down on paper in no time. Following his Bayer game on medication for haemophilia patients and his games on European refugee policy, “No (B)Orders!?” as well as on the crisis in Syria, he has recently created a simulation on energy network expansion for Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V. as well as a game on sustainable development goals for Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft (sdw). Naturally, Klaus enjoys seeing his games connect, with participants having a great time while gaining new insights. We, on the other hand, enjoy continuing giving Mr Simulation Game new topics to get his teeth into. Keep it up, Klaus!
Amal, Berlin! That is the name of a two-month training course for refugee journalists from Syria and Afghanistan, taking place at the Evangelische Journalistenschule Berlin. It provides the media professionals with insights into German society, politics and media – in both theory and practice. Following the invitation of initiators Conny and Julia Gerlach, we were delighted to contribute one day to the programme by facilitating our simulation game on gentrification. This simulation sees the participants directly enter local municipal negotiation processes, discussing a topic currently hotly debated in German cities. It soon transpired that there are no easy answers, no clear wrongs or rights, making the discussions all the more heated and leading to many a behind-the-scenes deal. After all, it was all about looking after one’s own interests. Following the simulation game, the group visited the Agora collective in Berlin-Neukölln, seeing for themselves how gentrification and displacement are changing the streets and neighbourhoods.
The training course runs until the end of November. By then, there will be an online information platform where the participants publish news from Germany and the rest of the world in Arabic and Farsi.
Printing our simulation games, booking train tickets and hotel rooms, ordering office supplies, filing travel expenses etc etc. Our everyday work life includes many jobs that really need to be done but tend to take a lot of time and keep us from developing or facilitating content. Now we finally hired Yana Bergmann-Duquesne as student assistant in charge of all organisational work. After only a few days we realised we had chosen the right person to provide much-needed relief. Always in a great mood, she takes on her assignments and tackles them very, very fast. So fast, in fact, that there is enough time to take her along to various events – not because we are trying to exploit her but because Yana is keen to know what exactly we get up to outside our office. But she doesn’t just watch, but actively takes part – a clear win-win-win-win situation Bienvenue Yana, it’s great to have you with us and thank you for all the hard work!
Even for simulation game professionals like us, organising five simultaneous simulations for a total of 150 participants is an unusual experience. Our partner of many years, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, had asked us to organise on day during orientation week for the master students of 2018. Of course, we were delighted to! Spread across the entire building, a team of 10 colleagues oversaw games on lobbying in the EU, UN climate negotiations, European asylum policy, rigged elections in a totalitarian state and the fight against international terrorism. The legendary and somewhat mysterious (fictional) character of President Wilkos appeared three times – truly a man of many faces. Apart from addressing important issues in international politics, the main focus was on bringing the new students into contact with each other and ensuring they began to get to know each other through playing.
At the end of September, our Europe department was all about the “Federal Conference for European Schools”. Not only did we develop both the concept and the content as well as moderating the conference. The State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia also asked us to organise large parts of the event. The varied programme including panel discussions, world cafe sessions, a keynote speech and workshops clearly struck a chord; the number of participants at the European House Berlin was considerably higher than expected, a fact made particularly obvious by the shortages experienced at the buffet. The somewhat cramped conditions proved conducive to lively exchange between 170 teachers and European education actors, making for a vibrant event. Our conference software “ConferenceApp” was made extensive use of. Following a talk by Prof Jürgen Neyer of Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), one question was discussed with particular fervour: Is European education mostly about inspiring enthusiasm for the European idea or promoting critical thinking? … planpolitik’s European department supports the latter, btw…