Conflict is ubiquitous. It exists at all levels, within and between individuals, communities, countries and cultures. We encounter it every day. Conflict is in itself neither bad nor good, but a sign that change is needed. The question is: does the way it is dealt with allow for positive or negative change? Does it allow for growth, development, and understanding, or rather destruction, confusion, and polarization?
We run various simulations on different crises and conflict. Some scenarios include the South China Sea, Ukraine, The Arctic, Turkey-Greece, the Mediterranen, the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Greater Middle East. Actors, teams and mechanics evolve around complex decision-making and second- and third-tier cascading consequences, involving IO’s, supranational bodies, states, non-state actors, NGO’s, PMC’s, and so on and so on. These simulations may run for an afternoon, up to multiple days.
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We have a network of experts on various topics, and offer courses that have simulations built into them. Consider, for example, this (mock) syllabus for a course on simulation & negotiation. This course has multiple simulations and games integrated into the curriculum and various forms of assessments.
Because geopolitics is often abstract, and long-term conflicts like this are both painful and complex, we use multi-day realistic simulations in our field where students put themselves in the shoes of players in the conflict. We have been playing these simulations for years, worldwide, with thousands of students, teachers, diplomats and military leaders from all layers of society. A ‘simulation-in-a-subject’ is a fantastic, challenging and very effective way to gain insight into and even understanding and appreciation for the other on both an intellectual and social-emotional level. And thanks to the game element, students often have fun too.
We do such simulations almost entirely ‘live’, so without complicated technology or software: from person-to-person and sometimes side-by-side, so together. Students learn the necessity and even added value of collaboration with parties that are normally furthest away from them. By becoming the other – perhaps even ‘the enemy’ – in a simulation, a different part of our brain seems to be activated than the part with which we normally learn.
See also, for example, this mock syllabus for a course on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This course is setup as a simulation-in-a-course where students spend the entire course preparing for their role and strategy in a multi-day simulation on the Greater Middle East.
To continue with the Middle East: the management of the Arab-Israeli conflict has resulted in many negative developments. It is one of the most intractable and dangerous conflicts of our era that has resisted resolution by generations of regional and international politicians and conflict experts. It has been characterized as the kernel of instability in the wider region and beyond.
In order to be able to examine the present significance of the conflict in international relations, or to try our hands at conflict management in a diplomatic simulation, we must fully appreciate the history of the conflict. The Arab-Israeli conflict has not only been fought in wars, but also in the historical narratives presented by historians, (ex-) journalists and a variety of social scientists. The narrative that informs us necessarily shapes the framework that we apply to view the conflict.