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 

03 March 2014

IB Global Politics: debating policy options on Iran's nuclear program.

Crisis Guide: Iran

A busy day so far in IB Glopo, but as we can see from the world outside the classroom, world politics is like this some times. HL1 folks; please take a moment and rank your preferences for the different policy options available to the US as seen in the videos and with the discussion from today's class.

IB Global Politics: (more) readings and resources on Crimea

via Russia and Ukraine: The military imbalance. (2014, March 03). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Live coverage and background
 Ukraine crisis. (2014). BBC News. Retrieved from

Coalson, R. (2014, February 28). The Crimean crisis we should have seen coming. The Atlantic. Retrieved from 
Friedman, U. (2014, March 3). Putin's playbook: The strategy behind Russia's takeover of Crimea. The Atlantic. Retrieved from 
Giles, K. (2014, March 3). Russia will take whatever it can. Chatham House. Retrieved from,28GN2,BHZIAT,83C7G,1 
Hudson, J. (2014, March 3). White house considering sanctions measures against Russia. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from 
Maness, R., & Valeriano, B. (2014, March 3). Russia's coercive diplomacy against Ukraine: The power politics story. Duck of Minerva. Retrieved from 
Marvin, T. (2014, March 3). The crisis in Crimea. Political Violence at a Glance. Retrieved from
McMahon, R. (2014, March 01). Issue guide: Crisis in Ukraine's Crimea. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from 
Motyl, A. J. (2014). How far will Putin go? Foreign Policy. Retrieved from
Mycio, M. (2014, March 1). Vladimir Putin Is miscalculating how easy it will be to control Crimea. Slate Magazine. Retrieved from 

IB Global Politics: End of term survey.

'morning folks,

With the end of term rapidly approaching and grades due on Monday the 10th, its time once again for you to offer your own detailed feedback and reflection on your learning experience in IB Global Politics this term. Please feel free to fill out this form during the week. We will also have class time in our abbreviated session on Friday for your to fill this out. As always, please be sure that you're taking the time to construct thoughtful, detailed responses to the prompts in the survey. The feedback and self-analysis that you provide is a tremendously powerful set of information for us to work with.

01 March 2014

IB Global Politics: The Week Ahead, 3-7 March

Kupchan, C. A. (Director). (2014, March 1). Ukraine's road ahead: Three things to know [Video]. Retrieved from 

 'afternoon folks,

Well, the last 24 hours in world politics have been interesting to say the least. Be sure that you're checking in with the usual suspects (CFR, Foreign Policy, The Economist, BBC News, NPR, UN News Centre, and more) for news and analysis on what's transpiring in Ukraine. Alternatively, you can also follow events live from the following (I'll add more regularly)

Higher Level 1

Essential Question
To what extent is the proliferation of nuclear energy, weapons, and related technologies a geopolitical challenge?

Key Concepts
Power, Sovereignty, Legitimacy, Interdependence, Peace, Conflict, Violence, Nonviolence

Theoretical Foundations
Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism

Learning Outcomes and Prescribed Content

  • The distribution, recognition and contesting of power at various levels of global politics
    • Definitions of power; Theories of power; Types of power
  • The operation and legitimization of state power in global politics
    • States and statehood; The role of institutional contexts for operation and legitimization of state power
  • The function and impact of international organizations and non-state actors in global politics
    • Definition of civil society; International organizations, including the United Nations (UN); Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), multinational corporations (MNCs) and trade unions; Social movements, resistance movements and violent protest movements
  • The nature and extent of interactions in global politics
    • Global governance; Cooperation: treaties, collective security, strategic alliances, informal cooperation; Conflict: interstate war, intrastate war, terrorism, strikes, demonstrations
For the Week

Higher Level 2
Monday through Friday: This is your final week to research, outline, perform, and/or submit your HL Extension Tasks. Please note that the last day to submit HL Extension Tasks is Friday 7 March. Third term is reserved entirely for revising towards the inaugural IB Global Politics exam as well as tying up any loose ends in the course, the IB Program, and your high school career.