Gathering materials, cleverly distributing roles, working out schedules, coordinating small groups, solving conflicts and always staying on top of things – successfully facilitating simulation games requires some training. As an addition to our range of training courses, we now run … Continue
The terrorist threat, Brexit, closing of borders, the Euro crisis – most headlines about the EU have been rather disconcerting of late. The President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is speaking of a „multilayered poly-crisis“. Many believe that fundamental change … Continue
Defining one’s own values. The interrelation between majority and minority in democracies. Hallmarks of populism and „alternative facts“. And, not least, effects and effectivity of seemingly simple solutions to complex political problems – the rise of right-wing populism across the … Continue
Many months passed between the first meeting for thrashing out rough ideas and visions for an ERASMUS project and getting the final go-ahead. But all that intense creating and rejecting of concepts, the regrouping and coming up with new plans proved worthwhile. As a result, we’ll kick off the project titled „#TEVIP – Translating European Values Into Practice” in September 2017. Our partners are Youth of Europe (Poland), CEO – Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej (Poland), Rete Educare ai Diritti Umani (Italy), Agape Centro Ecumenico (Italy) and the Dare network (Belgium and Germany).
If it says planpolitik on the tin, there’ll be plenty of interactive inside: this project will involve simulation games and other methods for large groups of up to 100 people as well as many other interactive formats aiming to make abstract European values like liberty, equality and solidarity tangible for young people by highlighting their significance in everyday conflict scenarios. This will allow the kids to link to their own reality, enabling them to integrate the European idea in their own everyday experience. At some point in 2020, the TEVIP materials will be made available for multipliers in extracurricular education free of charge – in German, English, Polish and Italian. More on this in the future!
Having spent more than ten years developing simulation games on a large variety of topics and for hugely diverse target groups, we are slowly but surely gaining a certain reputation in the world of simulation games. The first eight months of this year alone have us writing five articles, be it in a volume on the simulation of political decision-making published by colleagues at the University of Antwerp, for a series of publications by the Federal Agency for Civic Education or for “Unterricht Wirtschaft+Politik”, a journal aimed at political science teachers. In every paper, we address highly intriguing questions relating to simulation games as a method that force us to reflect on our many years of distinctly practice-oriented work: What makes simulation games such a good method? How can we produce evidence of the supposedly better learning effect? We are also able to expand our status as experts on online and blended formats.
There is an ironic side to our return to producing research papers. After all, we started planpolitik 12 years ago precisely because we realised that we prefer teaching to research and writing. Now, it seems that due to all our practical experience, we have made a name for ourselves, to the extent that this year alone we have been asked to contribute to two academic volumes – in both cases, as the only authors not working in academia. From a financial point of view, this activity yields little reward, but we are making great new contacts at home and abroad, and a few first joint projects with colleagues from academia have already been completed. Perhaps that PhD will materialise after all…
You can view some of our publications here. Not all of the latest contributions have been published yet. We will keep you posted.
Throughout the “European month” of May, our colleagues Annegret Schneider and Helen Böhmler, i.e. planpolitik’s Europe Department, as well as numerous freelancers are busy travelling the land. Their mission is to give pupils a closer understanding of the European Union. Apart from simulation games, our core EU experts will facilitate ten coaching sessions in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The commission by NRW Centre for Civic Education is a particularly tasty one: we are to guide and monitor team leaders of the NRW Europe Team in facilitating the simulation game “Asylum in Europe – from an idea to European law” (created by planpolitik…) and provide them with useful advice. Experience from earlier coaching sessions shows that even experienced members of the Europe Team benefit from this exchange and view the support as valuable. Together, aspects such as fine-tuning and game timing, communications with co-facilitators and getting a sense for when to intervene and when not to interrupt the game’s flow can be optimised most effectively.
Generally speaking, demand for different modes of coaching has risen sharply in recent times. A clear signal for us to extend our range accordingly and support all those interested in completing the journey from an initial idea to facilitating a simulation game.
How does development cooperation actually work? Addressing that question is our new simulation game “Help for Karisia”, commissioned by Engagement Global, a non-profit association that provides information and training in the field of development cooperation, targeting NGO employees, foundations, businesses or state institutions. Many participants of Engagement Global events go on to become active in development cooperation abroad.
The simulation game took place at the end of April – with a target group that was as unusual for Engagement Global as it was for us: the German army. Just over 20 officers of the general staff training unit at the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces – mostly majors and captains with experience of working abroad – entered the world of development cooperation, experiencing a rather unfamiliar change of perspective during the game.
The simulation covers a period of several years. It is set in a fictional development country, based on the situation in Afghanistan and Mali. The participants take on the roles of several different aid and development organisations as they try to help rebuild the war-ravaged country. There are plans to establish the simulation game as a regular fixture within Engagement Global’s work for the German army. We will attend at least one more run of the game at the Staff College in autumn.
George W. Bush was still President of the United States, Jacques Chirac was President of France, only Germany was already governed by Angela Merkel. The IS was practically unknown, the conflict in Sri Lanka had not yet been resolved – and planpolitik consisted of two people… Back in January of 2007, we travelled to Paris to visit the American University (AUP) for the first time, bringing a simulation game on the Sri Lankan conflict.
The students and lecturers of the International and Comparative Politics faculty were sufficiently enthralled, and since then we have been back every year for a four-day module on „Conflict Management, Negotiation and Mediation“.
Thus, at the beginning of March, we celebrated our 10-year AUP anniversary. Every year, our trip to Paris marks a particular highlight in our calendar. On one hand, working with students from all over world is a lot of fun, on the other, Paris is different to Berlin: more colourful, busier, more beautiful and tastier. If it were up to us, we’d still be teaching that module at AUP in 2027, we only hope Merkel won’t still be chancellor.
A couple of weeks ago, we ran our newly created interactive workshop on (right wing) populism in its entirety for the first time. 26 highly motivated scholarship holders of the „grips gewinnt“ programme gathered for a weekend to address democratic values, interrelations of majority and minorities in democracies, hallmarks of populism and „alternative facts“ and, last not least, the effectivity of seemingly simple solutions for complex political problems. At the heart of the workshop is the simulation game „Who the people? – Populists in power“, demonstrating how democratic structures can be undermined rather quickly. The programme encouraged participants to engage in discussions, to ask questions and, occasionally, to listen up in surprise, motivating them to promote democratic values even more fiercely than before and to speak out when necessary!
Our range of simulation games is growing steadily – every year, we create around 15 new games. Owing to the „energy turnaround“, demand for events and games on energy policy has increased considerably over the past few years. For example, we have recently created tailor-made simulation games for Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V. and the EU project “ImTeam4EU” as well as running numerous events for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and various German universities and academies.
In response to this growth in demand, we have introduced the Business and Energy department, looked after by our colleague Klaus Schneider. Klaus is your contact for „classics“ such as the stock exchange simulation or the game on state debt as well as for many relatively new games on topics such as grid expansion and renewable energies. He will gladly answer all of your questions!
The fictional Saxonian town of Weichenbach is allocated 500 asylum seekers. Where will their accommodation be? Who will carry the cost? Some citizens of Weichenbach see this as an opportunity for their town, others wonder whether their town is equipped to cope with such a challenge, and others categorically oppose taking in the refugees. Thus is the opening scenario of „Next Stop Weichenbach“, the simulation game that has just won the first prize in the Games 4 Change Migration Design Challenge in the U.S. The awards ceremony will take place in New York City at the beginning of August – we’re very much looking forward to it!
The game is based on our Senaryon platform and is being developed in partnership with the Saxonian Centre for Political Education (SlpB). Pupils play the game over a period of three weeks, partly while at school, partly from home. They assume roles of local councillors, citizens’ groups and members of the press. The game’s most important goal is to convey the interrelations and functionalities that define municipal politics and opinion-forming processes. The SlpB has brought to the project the basic idea as well as plenty of experience from the project „Commune in Dialogue“. Spanning several years, this project has involved 160 moderation sessions on the creation of refugee centres in Saxony, providing the basis for the creation of the game’s scenario and role profiles which we then fed into Senaryon. We have also added a whole range of technical functions. The game is currently in its test phase and will be available in schools across Saxony from May.
At last! – the planpolitik simulation game catalogue Planspielkatalog 2017 (English version coming soon) is here, providing an overview of our current range of games. With 80 different simulation games divided into seven different topical sub-categories, there should be something for everybody here. As you have become accustomed to with planpolitik, the simulation games are playable both in the classic seminar format or online and they can be adapted to almost every kind of target group. Of course they can also be augmented with interactive workshops, negotiation trainings, ideas workshops or conferences. Those who would like to develop their own simulation game have come to the right place, too: our training sessions will quickly enable participants to understand the components and tricks that make a great game. We like to pass on our knowledge and experience. After all, we have always been convinced that the range of simulation games on offer in political education can never be too big.
In comparison to our negotiation training module, which by now we have run at least 50 times, the leadership training course has remained somewhat in the shadows. But now, following Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance and the International Nature Conservation Academy on the beautiful island of Vilm, we have a third and hopefully permanent outlet. In December of last year, we practised strategies and techniques of leadership and team management with international students of the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt. As in our other training modules, we used a mix of interactive exercises, a lot of feedback, theoretical input and case studies. Compared to other training formats, reflection on one’s own strengths and weaknesses plays a particularly important role.
The module is always particularly interesting for Björn and Simon, giving them an opportunity to include their own experiences as managers of a small business that by now comprises 12 employees. By the way, the format is not only suitable for professionals and people in leading positions, as was the case with the nature conservationists on the island if Vilm. The topics we touch on are also relevant for students at the entry into professional life – especially when the future employer is following a leadership strategy which assigns management duties to a wide range of employees.
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