09 May 2014

Games Without Frontiers 2.0, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Moved My Blog

(yes, this is a promo video for IB Global Politics at NBPS)

A recent episode on Twitter, one where a server error (apparently) caused my account to revert to my old user name, lose my Twitter handle, and forced me to create a second account and recover the @games_frontiers brand I have spent the last year cultivating, has resulted in a change in the way in which I work online. This #twitterfail was actually a blessing in disguise; far too many of my academic interests (world politics, simulations, progressive educational pedagogy, and interacting with students) had become entangled with tweets about Manchester United, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, music, pub life, and more. This bifurcation of life on Twitter (a phrase I never thought any sane person would utter) has also accelerated a project that I had started working on earlier this spring; moving the Games Without Frontiers blog and brand beyond the Google/Blogger platform.

One of my goals for the upcoming 2014-15 school year is to write more reflective pieces about the work the students and I do in class; everything from simulations and games to reporting on feedback and reflective, summative assessments. This is something that I started 2013-14 doing very well but fell off as trips abroad, the wedding, and finishing my dissertation took more and more of my time. A related goal for the coming school year and beyond is to actually write more about two of the topics in educational research that interest me most; student engagement and narrative feedback as a formative assessment tool. Publishing these ideas to the blog will allow me to flesh out ideas that will eventually end up at conferences and in publication. With one article already submitted and another in draft for submission later this month, expanding my research, presentation, and writing is something I certainly want to continue spending my time on. Finally, my experience this past year on Twitter and to some extent on this blog, has led me to conclude that there are far more opportunities to engage and collaborate with educators around the globe, to be what Silvia Tolisano refers to as a "connected educator", than I am currently taking advantage of. I feel that I can do this better than I am currently if I expand and improve my blog by migrating it to Wordpress, as well as spend more time in academic-only social spaces such as Twitter and Google+. For all these reasons and more, there will be no more updates to this space after 1 June 2014. All future posts will be on: (I've also archived all of the old posts from Blogger to this site).

Part of this move has to do with the issue of intellectual property. This blog is hosted and maintained by my school; at some level, I do not own the ideas, plans, and other information I post here. With my dissertation complete, I plan to write and publish more in the realm of student engagement and narrative feedback. The work I do with the International Baccalaureate with IB Global Politics beyond my own teaching also rubs against the narrow construction that this is a 'school-only' workspace. Maintaining sole ownership of my ideas is vitally important as I move to turn blog posts that become conference papers and then transform into publications.

Not to worry; I have no intention of ever deleting this blog. There are far too many posts, comments, and links to resources on simulations and games, student engagement, and lesson plans here to abandon this project. In fact, I would love to see my colleagues who are a part of the IB Global Politics pilot start to post their own class' work here (I can help facilitate this by making you co-authors if you want). I hope that all of faculty and students who come into the IB Global Politics community will use these resources as we continue to move IB Global Politics from pilot to open offer to the thousands of IB DP schools in the next few years.

For students, particularly those heading into their second year of IB Global Politics at NBPS, I have every confidence that your experience will be enhanced by this shift. All of our work-weekly postings, plans, readings, resource, and more-will still be pushed to my NBPS Google+ page. Many of you already receive our course information within this network, so you won't be impacted by the change. You should also see that I'm already ramping up the frequency of current events articles and other Glopo-related items on the Google+ page. I also want to encourage you to follow a few of your intrepid colleagues and become engaged in discussions about all things Glopo (current events, chats on simulations and games, etc) on Twitter via @games_frontiers. This will also allow us to stay in touch about class and your EEs over the summer as you head off for internships, travel, or the beach. Finally, you can peruse the new Games Without Frontiers to see some of the new features, assessments, and other content (for example, two years' worth of unit plans for IB Global Politics will be published here before the end of summer) that I've been working on. For graduating seniors; I fully expect that we'll continue to discuss coffee and non-Glopo items of dubious interest on Twitter once you've recovered from successfully navigating your IB exams and the perils of not tripping over your gown as you receive your diploma.

Thank you to all of the students, colleagues, parents, discussants, retweeters, and readers who have interacted with this blog in the past 15 months. I sincerely hope that you migrate over to the new Games Without Frontiers and continue to, or better year, expand your engagement in our shared interest in world politics, the use of simulations and games, and progressive educational practices. Any success I've had in constructing and disseminating the approach/ideas/implementation of how we do IB Global Politics at NBPS on this would not have been possible without your input and participation-thank you.

Games Without Frontiers
Engaging the study of world politics through simulations & games

05 May 2014

Updates for IB Global Politics

I know that many of you have been following this blog on Google+. If you're not doing so already-especially if you're a student at NBPS-then you want to be sure to head over to that page and add IB Global Politics to your circles.

I'll be posing updates for IB Global Politics on Google+ and Twitter in the coming days & weeks that may not appear on this blog. Please be sure you're keeping up with the latest and greatest #glopo topics on either of those social networks.

02 May 2014

The week ahead in IB Global Politics

Image (c) 2014 New York Times

IB Glopo HL1
5 May: Finish discussion of Kaufmann, C. (1996). Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil War. International Security, 20(4), 136-175. Prep for simulation, Bamara Border Dispute
6 May: Simulation & debrief, Bamara Border Dispute
8 May: Read, Byman, D. (2002). Dilemmas and choices. In Keeping the peace: Lasting solutions to ethnic conflicts (pp. 213-225). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
9 May: Play, Review Roulette with Byman (2002)

In addition, you should be reading the following articles outside of class this week: Stearns, J. (2013). Helping Congo help itself. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved September/October, 2013, from; Stearns, J. (2013, November 11). Congo's sudden calm. Retrieved from

IB Glopo HL2
5 May: Current Events; CFR: The World Next Week
6 May: Current Events; BBC: Global News
8 May: Mock Paper 2-Development
9 May: Review and debrief on Paper 2

01 May 2014

US warns of South Sudan genocide

Images (c) BBC News

US warns of South Sudan genocide. (2014, May 1). Retrieved from 

A great and timely article on identity-based conflict in South Sudan. Be sure to read this tonight, before tackling Kaufmann, C. (1996). Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil War. International Security, 20(4), 136-175 tomorrow in class. What does Kaufmann's theory tell us about the conflict in South Sudan? What sort of policy options are available to political elites in South Sudan/in regional capitals/around the world?

28 April 2014

IB Global Politics Class Awards

Please submit your responses to this survey no later than 12.00 on Thursday, 1 May.

IB Glopo HL1: Calendar for the next two weeks

'afternoon folks,

As promised, here is the revised schedule we put together in this morning's class. I've also enclosed a general schedule of readings to be done outside of class over the next two weeks. I know that this seems like a lot, and it is, but having a command of this source material will leave you well positioned for completing your practice HL Extension Task that will serve as your summative assessment for the year.

29 April: Watch & debrief, Kony, M23, and the real rebels of Congo
1 May: Read Kaufmann, C. (1996). Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil War. International Security, 20(4), 136-175.
2 May: Play, Grab That Spoon! with Kaufmann (1996)

5 May: Prep for simulation, Bamara Border Dispute
6 May: Simulation & debrief, Bamara Border Dispute
8 May: Read, Byman, D. (2002). Dilemmas and choices. In Keeping the peace: Lasting solutions to ethnic conflicts (pp. 213-225). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
9 May: Play, Review Roulette with Byman (2002)


IB Glopo HL2: Calendar for the rest of the year

'morning Seniors,

Here's the calendar we built together in class this morning. You'll want to be sure that you're maintaining steady progress in your revision as we head into our final days together (sniffle). A few of you asked for additional resources to keep you abreast of world events in these final weeks, so here they are: NPR World News; Council on Foreign Relations; The World Next Week (CFR podcast); PRI The World (podcast).

29 April: Mock Paper 2: Human Rights
1 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2
2 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide

5 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
6 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
8 May: Mock Paper 2-Development
9 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2

12 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
13 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
15 May: Mock Paper 2-Peace and Conflict
16 May: Mark & debrief Paper 2

19 May: Current Events/Work on Study Guide
20 May: Final review, discussion, meditation
22 May: IB Glopo Breakfast (7.45am); IB Global Politics Paper 2 Exam (8.30am)

10 April 2014

IB Global Politics: the weeks ahead, 12-27 April

'evening folks,

Here is the general outline of coursework for the next two weeks. Again, I will be in Costa Rica from 17-26 April. Before you ask, I have promised Molly that I will not bring my computer with me for this trip. So no, I won't be checking emails or on Twitter (well, maybe...a little) while we're away. I will be relaxing and reading (this, this, and this) in a hammock in the rainforest, at the beach, or otherwise lounging about in the happiest place on earth. Here's a few things to keep you busy while we're apart:

HL2: Complete the IB Global Politics Examination Review
This document is the only thing that you should work in class on from the 11th through the 27th. You'll have roughly 9 hours of class time in addition to any other time you spend outside to get this done. There's really no reason why you won't be able to complete this task in your teams. We'll have time to walk through three (3) mock Paper 2s, including debriefing and assessment, between the time I return and your IB exam. Failing to complete the Examination Review will leave you unprepared for your IB Global Politics HL exam on 21 & 22 May.

HL1: International Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We'll use the next two weeks to complete our first HL extension task; International Security in the DRC. Please refer to this document to guide you through your inquiry over the next two weeks while I am away. My best advice for you, and we'll flesh this out in class over the next few days, is for you to form study groups to read, listen, & watch as many of the sources in the bibliography during the next two weeks (the Gambino report as well as some of the reports from the Rift Valley Institute are pretty heavy lifting). We'll start work on developing research questions when I return, as well as to delve into some deeper theory and simulations on the nature of civil wars and identity-based conflict.

08 April 2014

IB Global Politics. One Village, Six People: peace building in post-genocide Rwanda #Rwanda20

The IB Glopo Year 1 folks spent the whole day today involved in the One Village, Six People simulation.  We spend about 13 weeks studying Peace and Conflict each year, focusing our attention on the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; from Kigali to Kivi, as a part of our inquiry into various aspects of power, legitimacy, sovereignty, interdependence, peace, conflict, violence, and nonviolence. We begin our inquiry with the Rwandan genocide; timed each year, of course, to coincide with the anniversary of the onset of the conflict that killed at least 800,000 men, women and children in 100 days. 

The One Village, Six People simulation is a six-party negotiation among Hutu and Tutsi villagers regarding competing land claims and local authority issues in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Students prepare by watching & debriefing the Ghosts of Rwanda documentary. We follow this by adopting one of six character roles for the simulation. Working in teams and individually, students define and articulate the interests, beliefs, emotions, and identities of their characters. In addition, students develop negotiation strategies and opening statements for their village meeting. The simulation itself places six individuals together; these folks must decide how to divide disputed territory in the village, the location and ownership of local cattle, as well as political leadership. Villagers include both Tutsis and Hutus; some victims of the genocide and some who have links to the genocidaires. Students then use this experience and the knowledge they have acquired about the Rwanda genocide to delve into a deeper study of the contemporary geopolitical challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Once the initial preparation was complete, the students and I spend time establishing group rules for discussion and the flow of the simulation. The simulation deals with topics that can be extremely sensitive; issues of sexually-absed violence, crimes against humanity, racism, and more. We were able to discuss, role play, and ultimately reach consensus on a set of practices and limits to how we would approach these topics during the simulation. The final pieces of the setup came in the form of sorting folks into their respective villages. Once this was complete, sudents began negotiating on the substantive issues of land ownership, collective livestock rights, and political power in their village. 

Out first reflection occurred after about an hour of negotiations; you can see the student responses here. Students were asked to consider their participation in the simulation from the perspective of their role in the simulation, as well as their perception of others' interests and actions during the negotiaonts. After a break for lunch and a second round of equally-demonstrative negotiations, we spent the final two hours debriefing on the broad range of student experiences in the simulation. Students also completed a written debriefing-responses can be seen here-that captured the totality of their experience in light of their actions and beliefs during the simulation.

While I have yet to seriously parse through the data above, my initial survey of student commentaries leave me very proud of everyone who participated today. Their level of maturity and willingness to take risks were coupled with their genuine desire to learn through the process of simulation; even if it was about the most difficult of topics, genocide. The pictures below capture some of the negotiation, outcomes, and other work and play form today's simulation. However, they really don't do these students' efforts justice-the quality and caliber of today's experience was second to none. 








07 April 2014

IB Global Politics: #Rwanda20

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. While there are a plethora of great stories that have come out in recent days, these stood out as some of the most compelling, informative, or provocative. Please take the opportunity to read, listen, and reflect on these, especially if you're revising for exams or preparing for tomorrow's simulation.

The Economist. (2014, April 05). To hell and back. Retrieved from

Fritz, M. (1994, May 13). Only human wreckage is left in village of Karubamba. Retrieved from

Gourevitch, P. (2014, April 4). Letter from the archive: The genocide in Rwanda. Retrieved from

Human Rights Watch. (1999, March). Leave none to tell the story: Genocide in Rwanda. Retrieved from

Inskeep, S. (2014, April 7). Where does Rwanda go from here? Retrieved from

Kagame, P. (2014, April 1). Rebooting Rwanda. Retrieved from

Warner, G. (2014, April 6). How abandonment in Rwandan genocide changed peacekeepers' role. Retrieved from

Warner, G. (2014, April 7). Ceremonies commemorate 20 years since Rwanda genocide. Retrieved from

Wolfe, L. (2014, April 04). How Rwandans cope with the horror of 1994. Retrieved from

Tomorrow, the Glopo Year 1 students will take part in a day long simulation on peace building in post-genocide Rwanda. One village, six people gives students the opportunity to explore and apply their understanding of the concepts power, legitimacy, sovereignty, interdependence, peace, non-violence, conflict, and violence as they take on various roles of victims and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. I'll be sure to post pictures and reflections, including our #Rwanda20 selfie, on the experience after we've completed our debriefing.

04 April 2014

IB Global Politics: The Week Ahead, 7-11 April

afternoon all,

The next week will mark the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. If you get the chance, please read an extraordinary interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Foreign Affairs as well as a great read in The Atlantic, "How Rwandans Cope with the Horror of 1994." We're also a whole 7 weeks away from the first IB Glopo exams (whoo hoo!).  Be sure to go out and support your colleagues in The Crucible this weekend; cast, break a leg! Here's our schedule for next week.

Glopo HL1
Glopo HL2

01 April 2014

IB Glopo HL2: Revision schedule for the IB Exam

As you all work diligently towards completing your study guides, please take note of the following schedule of mock IB assessments. We'll use the 90 minute period each Tuesday to write and the following class on Thursday to peer-mark and debrief on your responses. I know many of you have travel, exhibitions, and other activities that will keep you busy over the next six weeks, so please mark these assessment dates your calendars accordingly.

1 April: Mock Paper 1 (Sovereignty)

8 April: Mock Paper 1 (NGOs)

15 April: Mock Paper 2 (Power, sovereignty, and international relations)
  • To what extent is state sovereignty an outdated concept in the 21st century?
  • “Global politics is characterized more by cooperation than by conflict.” Discuss.
29 April: Mock Paper 2 (Human Rights)
  • “A national or regional approach to human rights enforcement is more effective than a global approach.” Discuss.
  • “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seeks to impose a Western perspective on human rights on non-Western societies.” To what extent do you agree with this criticism?
6 May: Mock Paper 2 (Development)
  • Evaluate the claim that development is impossible to measure.
  • “The biggest obstacle to development in developing countries is debt.” Discuss.
13 May: Mock Paper 2 (Peace and conflict)
  • “Truth and reconciliation commissions are the most effective way to foster peace.” To what extent do you agree with this claim?
  • Evaluate the claim that humanitarian intervention is a justifiable intrusion into the sovereignty of a state.
We'll spend our final Tuesday together (sniffle) working on last minute revisions. Please also plan to meet for coffee and breakfast in 101 on at 7.45am Thursday the 22nd before your Paper 2 exams. 

31 March 2014

28 March 2014

IB Global Politics: the week ahead, 31 March through 4 April

HL1: The Politics of Peace and Conflict, the Rwandan Genocide

 HL2: Revise for IB Global Politics examination

25 March 2014

IB Global Politics: CAS opportunity with NBPS and Feeding Children Everywhere

Are you looking for your first CAS project of the year? Do you need one more to round out your experience at NBPS? Once again, NBPS High School Student Government is partnering with Feeding Children Everywhere on Saturday 12 April in hosting its second annual Feeding Children Everywhere packing event. The event will support Feeding Children Everywhere, the NBPS charity of choice, which is a non-profit organization that hosts group meal-packaging events to send meals to impoverished parts of the world. Through the generous donations of the North Broward community, we have raised over $15,000 to sponsor this event. The packing event will be an assembly-line in which students, parents, and faculty can collaborate and bond while packaging thousands of meals to send to Haiti.

If you plan on attending the event, please be sure to document your participation in this event using the CAS Activity Log. You'll need to complete this towards fulfilling your CAS portion of your IB Diploma.

Please register for North Broward Prep Hunger Project, either for the 9.00-10.00am or 10.00-11.00am session. Please enter the number of volunteers, parents and students included, in your party as your quantity of tickets. Make sure to bring your printed ticket to the event, which will be in the high school Student Union on April 12 from 9 to 11 am. We encourage you to bring your family and spend a few hours with us as we reach our goal of 60,000 meals. Thank you, and we hope to see you there!

Understanding Student Engagement During Simulations in IB Global Politics

Please complete this survey once you have finished the Tulia and Ibad simulation.

24 March 2014

Playing 4Cs with The Causes of Internal Conflict (Brown 1997) in IB Global Politics

Today's class featured a synthesis & debriefing activity from one of my favorite introductory readings on internal conflict, Brown, M. E. (1997). The causes of internal conflict. In Nationalism and ethnic conflict (pp. 3-25). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. I've used the Brown chapter in a high school setting for many years; whether it was for IB History, our before-school seminar on the Causes of War and Peace, Comparative Genocide, and now in IB Global Politics. I've always found that students rise to the occasion and have a go at readings such as this when you engage the students with challenging material (I only tell them afterwards about the context and audience for these types of readings) in a supportive environment where we get to discuss, analyze, and unpack authors' ideas. I've had more than a few students go on to undergraduate and grad school programs in IR and PoliSci who will write to me saying something to the effect of, "XYZ article is on the syllabus this term. I was was the only one in the class who understood this because we read it together in high school." Besides, its always fun to go back and review articles, chapters, and books I found so meaningful when I had the luxury of studying IR full time. 

We used a modified version of Thagi's 4Cs activity to apply our understanding of the Brown reading in a jigsawed context. Students were grouped into 4 teams and asked to develop a team understanding of what are the componentscharacteristics, challenges of, or characters in internal conflict. Once the table consensus had been reached, team members then interviewed their colleagues from other groups in order gather their ideas on the respective topics. Finally, groups reconvened in their original teams to provide a synthesis statement regarding their understanding of their assigned categories.


I would certainly use this activity again, although it really should be run in a class period that lasts more than an hour. I also think that while 4Cs was an effective vehicle for students to connect their understanding of Brown (which we read in class on Friday & over the weekend) as well as their other readings, the activity could also be used to extend students' understanding of source material (text or video) or as an introductory exploration of a topic prior to a simulation, investigation, or interaction with course material. 

21 March 2014

IB Global Politics: the week ahead, 24-28 March

'afternoon folks,

Here's the brief outline for next week-have a restful weekend.

Higher Level 2
HL2 folks; if you're going to make final edits to your IAs before submission and marking, please do so this weekend. Your IA scores will be uploaded to IBIS no later than Tuesday. Those IAs which are headed out for external review will be mailed out by Friday the 28th. Finally, I have the study groups listed as follows: (Devon, Jessie, Coby, Evan); (Zach); (Ilana, Jonathan, Lauren); (Max, ATD, Daniel, Jack); (Michael); (Ryan, Nathalia, Camilo). Please be sure you are making adequate progress towards completing your study guide. Your first Mock Paper 2 on the Power, Sovereignty, and International Relations unit will be on Tuesday, 1 April 2014.

Higher Level 1
Just a reminder that Tuesday's post-simualtion survey will serve as the data collection for my dissertation. Also, I'll be sending you and your parents a permission slip for our day-long simulation, One Village, Six People for Tuesday the 8th of April. We'll use this as the engagement activity for your IB Internal Assessment; more information on this will be explained in class later this week. 

20 March 2014

IB Global Politics: Academic Conference Call, "Update on the Congo"

(c) 2014 Council on Foreign Relations

When? Wednesday, 26 March from 12 to 1pm.
Where? Room 101.
What do I have to do? Comment on this blog post to confirm your attendance (HL 1 folks, this call should be mandatory) no later than Monday 24 March. I will make the arrangements with your advisors, etc. Please be sure to read & review the links below. You'll also want to plan on bringing your lunch to the classroom. Finally, please prepare at least one discussion question from the readings for us to work through in class OR to ask Mr. Stearns on the call.

Our next Academic Conference Call with the Council on Foreign Relations will undoubtedly be the best one yet. Jason Stearns, director of the Usalama Project at the Rift Valley Institute, will discuss the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Prior to the Rift Valley Institute, Mr. Stearns worked for the International Human Rights Law Group and the United Nations peacekeeping operation Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). Between 2005 and 2007, he was based in Nairobi, Kenya, as a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, where he worked on the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi. In 2008, he was appointed by the UN Secretary General as coordinator of the UN Group of Experts on the Congo, which researches the support and financing of armed groups in the eastern DRC. He is currently working on a PhD in political science at Yale University, and is author of the book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (New York: Public Affairs, 2011); a book that is on my summer reading list this year.

As background for the discussion, you will want to read and review the following:

Playing Fearon's Rationalist Explanation for War in IB Global Politics

Today's class marked the real kickoff of our study of armed conflict. Students had pre-reading earlier in the week on both a textbook overview of the discipline (Kegley, C. W., & Raymond, G. A. (2012). Patterns of armed conflict. In The global future: a brief introduction to world politics (5th ed., pp. 172-196). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning) and a more contemporary survey of issues (Hewitt, J. J., Wilkenfeld, J., & Gurr, T. R. (2012). Peace and conflict 2012 (Rep.). Retrieved We used these readings as a frame for both watching the introductory video on Armed Conflict from the Council on Foreign Relations' Global Governance Monitor as well as a general discussion on the subject. Once this was complete, moved on to the heart of today's classwork; understanding how states or other actors choose to go to war. 

Our gameplay was centered on a simple puzzle; if wars are costly, then why do states (or other actors) fight? Using a deck of cards, some poker chips, and the chance of victory and glory (ironically, I didn't have to incentivize this game with candy or coffee), students played Allendoerfer's game, Fearon's Rational Theory of War. The game is brilliant in its simplicity; students have one card (2-10, kept hidden from others) which serves as their material capabilities. Each student's task then is to operate in and pursue their interests in an anarchic environment; albeit in a very safe classroom. 10 poker chips serve as a set of resources, or interests, or any "wants" that the students may have. Dyadic pairs of students then negotiate about how to divide the 10 chips at their table. If they can reach an agreement, they divide the chips, the iteration ends, and then two new pairs play. If however, two players cannot agree on how to divide the chips, they "go to war" by turning the cards over. The player with the higher card then has the capacity to decide how to divide the pot of chips. This parsimonious version of Fearon's Rational Theory of War can lead to all sorts of variants and extensions, depending on the dynamics of the class. As the students in Year 1 have become fairly adept at modifying game mechanics during play. This took the form of everything from weighting the value of the chips, moving to multi-party negotiations, alliance formation and balance of power, to post-war negotiations over the spoils of war.





Our debrief reviewed Fearon's assumptions, premises, and conclusions as to why states, and by extension other actors, can rationally choose to go to war. Students found that their experiences aligned with the basic expected utility for war; Pa-Ca and (1-Pa)-Cb. Perhaps more importantly, the students made connections between Fearon's conclusions that rational states can fail to reach a bargain and go to war when information about capabilities remains private (uncertain) and issues of credibility between two actors and their own experiences in the gameplay.

I will say that 50 minutes is not enough time to run this game properly. Next year, I will set aside a full 90 minutes to run this game; especially since I want to have the students track their wins and losses, calculate their expected utility for going to war, as well as debrief more formally around Fearon's model for peace: Pa-Ca < X < Pa + Cb

As a matter of extension, students were invited to read both Fearon, J. D. (1995). Rationalist explanations for war. International Organization, 49(03), 379-414. Retrieved from as well as a summary of the article,
Lam, P. (2007). Summary: Fearon's rationalist explanations for war. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from While these are optional readings, I fully expect that more than a few of the 24 students in IB Glopo HL1 will read one or both of these in the coming days.

Special thanks to both Dr. Michelle Allendoerfer, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Women’s Leadership Program (, George Washington University and the fine folks who run the Active Learning in Political Science blog for posting and sharing this game earlier this year. 

18 March 2014

Rho Kappa National Social Science Honor Society

Informational Meeting 
Friday, 21 March 2014 in Lakeside Hall

For high school juniors and seniors with a 3.0 GPA overall and
 an 3.5 GPA in the social sciences, weighted
Recognizes excellence in the social sciences
National recognition of your achievement 
Opportunities for further exploration in the social science
Applications due on 3 April 2014

A rainy Tuesday in IB Glopo and TOK

'morning folks;

Here's the quick overview for today's classes:

Glopo HL1: Please use today's 90 minute period to read Hewitt, J. J., Wilkenfeld, J., & Gurr, T. R. (2012). Peace and conflict 2012 (Rep.). Both this and yesterday's reading of Kegley, C. W., & Raymond, G. A. (2012). Patterns of armed conflict. In The global future: A brief introduction to world politics (5th ed., pp. 172-196). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning will be used as our launching point for discussion, gameplay, and analysis throughout the rest of the year. We'll start to put the ideas and information presented here into practice on Thursday; be ready to play a more advanced game on bargaining and war.

Glopo HL2: You all should be continuing to work to develop your study guides. Just as with work that you've previously done in TOK, I'd advise creating a Google Doc for you to share the burden of the work across group members. Please del fee to share the link to this document with me so that I can give you feedback on your work. So far, I've not heard from several of you about your group choices; this is not a good way to start off your final term.

TOK: Again, please review the email that Mr. Cronin sent you over the weekend. You should have read both of the recent blog posts on the TOK blog here and here. I addition, you have plenty of time to work in class today (5a & 5b) and tomorrow (6th) on developing your definitions for Key Concepts, as well as terms in WoK and AoK.

See everyone tomorrow,


17 March 2014

Welcome back!

Morning folks,

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and restful spring break. A quick bit of guidance for today:

Glopo HL2: Please use today and to morrow to familiarize yourself with the basic study guide for the IB Global Politics exam ( link is also on the blog on the right hand sidebar towards the top. Read the directions and develop your working groups, "study cults", or other teams that you plan to use to complete this; please email me your groups TODAY (17 March). You'll want to work on this AS HOMEWORK and CLASSWORK over the long haul for the term; from now through 1 May. We'll also run two parallel exam prep projects during the term. The first will be working through the mechanics of Paper 1 and Paper 1, sitting for mock papers each Tuesday (starting next week) and then debriefing and marking them collectively. We'll also engage in a project based on our Guacapolitics mock up from the week prior to break. More information and guidance on these will be available as soon as I return. 

Glopo HL1: Please use class time today to read Kegley, C. W., & Raymond, G. A. (2012). Patterns of armed conflict. In The global future: A brief introduction to world politics (5th ed., pp. 172-196). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning UPDATED LINK ( All of the readings from this unit will be available in Dropbox here

For Glopo folks just starting TOK; please read these posts here ( and here ( I'll be covering TOK this week as well, so we'll take a our first dive into these concepts and terms later in the week. For Seniors who are finished with your TOK class; please be sure that you are physically checking in with the sub and I this week.You'll need passes to go to the Learning Commons or wherever you feel that you need to be during your exam prep. Starting next week, or perhaps the week after, I'll also be running sessions on CAS while Paul is running the TOK class. More info on this will be forthcoming.

I'll update the blog later today or early tomorrow morning with info for Tuesday; see you all on Wednesday afternoon.


11 March 2014

Happy Birthday, Games Without Frontiers!

As with many things, I'm often late to the party and forgetful about anniversaries, birthdays, and the like (Molly reminds me of this often...because I need the reminder). On 7 March 2013, Ask Yourself: Are Your Students Engaged? was posted as the very first entry to Games Without Frontiers. Thanks to the thousands (apparently) of students, educators, colleagues, and other interested folks who have taken the time to read the ideas and resources that I cobble together a few times a week during the past year. More importantly, a heartfelt thank you to all of my students involved in the IB Global Politics pilot cohort; their work is regularly on display here and it is their interest in and dedication to the study of world politics that makes all of this possible. We have some exciting things coming up for the remainder of the school year as well as next that I (and others) will be sharing soon-cheers!

04 March 2014

IB Global Politics: reviewing policy options to address Iran's nuclear program

As we head into the final stretch of our coverage of the politics of nuclear proliferation, the Year 1 students were asked to review and evaluate the policy options available to the US and the rest of the international community with respect to Iran's nuclear program. Based on our readings and discussion, as well as all of the content from the CFR's Iran: Crisis Guide, students rank ordered their preferences for US action towards Iran: Covert Action, Diplomacy, Opposition Support, Preventative Strike, Public Diplomacy, and Sanctions. 

As you can see from the charts above, there is strong preferences amongst the Year 1 students for pursuing diplomacy, traditional and public. Interestingly, while there is generally opposition to both covert action and using force in a preventative strike, although roughly 1 in 4 students support the use of force, there is also general support for ending economic sanctions against Iran as well. These preferences shouldn't simply be interpreted as the naiveté of young minds; a review of the assigned readings and content in the bibliography below is worthy (in my humble opinion) of belonging in a university setting. Rather, I interpret the student's preference for diplomacy over other policy options towards Iran as stemming from a shrewd consideration of the available costs and benefits of all policy options available to the US, given the dynamics of the current geopolitical environment. 

As with the Year 2 students work last year, we'll wrap up this unit by simulating a crisis decision-making situation with the Truman National Security Project's simulation, Tell Me How This Ends. This simulation gives students the opportunity to manage their own US administration through a simulated strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The debrief on this simulation is always interesting and informative. This year will be no different as I am collecting data for my doctoral dissertation, via student survey responses, as to the degree to which they perceive Tell Me How This Ends as an engaging activity towards learning the prescribed concepts and learning outcomes in our IB Global Politics course.   

As always, special thanks to the folks at the Council on Foreign Relations, the CFR's Academic Initiative, the Truman National Security Project, and of course the International Baccalaureate for supporting the work of high school students and their study of international politics. 

You can see all of the related blog posts and evidence of work in class here. The complete bibliography for this section of the course is below. 

Allison, G. (2010, January/February). Nuclear disorder: Surveying atomic threats. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Bruno, G. (2010, March 10). Iran's nuclear program. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from 

Council on Foreign Relations. (2009). Nuclear energy guide. Retrieved from

Council on Foreign Relations. (2012). Crisis guide: Iran. Retrieved from  

Council on Foreign Relations. (2013). Nuclear proliferation. Global Governance Monitor. Retrieved from!/nuclear-proliferation 

Council on Foreign Relations. (2013, June 25). The global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Retrieved from 

Director General, International Atomic Energy Association. (2012, February 24). Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Rep.). Retrieved 

Donaldson, R. (Director). (2000). Thirteen days [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: New Line Cinema.

Gordon, M. R., & Schmitt, E. (2014, January 12). Negotiators put final touches on Iran accord. New York Times. Retrieved from 

Iran nuclear deal: key points. (2014, January 20). BBC News. Retrieved from

Kahl, C. (2012). Not time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kahl, C. H. (2014, January 7). Still not time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kegley, C. W., & Raymond, G. A. (2012). Foreign policy decision making. In The global future: A brief introduction to world politics (5th ed., pp. 55-79). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. (link)

Kroenig, M. (2012). Time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kroenig, M. (2014, January 7). Still time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Q&A: Iran nuclear crisis. (2014, January 20). BBC News. Retrieved from

Rezaian, J. (2014, February 4). In Iran, opponents of a nuclear deal speak up. Washington Post. Retrieved from 

Rouhani: Iran is getting nuclear deal benefit. (2014, February 6). Al Jazeera. Retrieved from

Sagan, S. D. (2006). How to keep the bomb from Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Waltz, K. N. (2012). Why Iran should get the bomb. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from  

Zengerle, P., & Mohammed, A. (2014, February 04). Iran nuclear deal 'not perfect' but buys time, top U.S. official. Reuters. Retrieved from