Teaching International Relations in the Undergraduate Classroom: The Use of Metaphors, Simulations, and Games

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Sula İ. E.

in: Signature Pedagogies in International Relations, Jan Lüdert, Editor, E-International Relations Publishing, Bristol, pp.165-179, 2021

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Publisher: E-International Relations Publishing
  • City: Bristol
  • Page Numbers: pp.165-179
  • Editors: Jan Lüdert, Editor


This chapter discusses signature pedagogies in International Relations (IR)

and introduces three alternative techniques to active learning, which are used

to teach challenging topics in the undergraduate classroom. The first technique

is the strategy game, which is designed to encourage students’ active

participation and help them grasp key concepts. The second technique is a

simulation that aims to let students experience a hypothetical international

crisis as representatives of states and understand difficulties in conflict

resolution scenarios. Simulations are generally inspired from certain real-life

crisis and developed with a touch of entertainment. The third technique is the

use of metaphors or stories. It aims to explain the literature on “sciences” and

“methods” in the IR as a discipline via a fictional story and the use of certain

metaphors. The chapter first reviews existing teaching techniques in the academic

literature. It lists and discusses various “game/simulation designs” built

by scholars in the field. Second, it introduces the three techniques as part of

my signature pedagogy with examples from previously applied cases. This

part details the design of each technique in a step-by-step format to make

them replicable for readers. Third, the chapter discusses the applicability of

each technique. Combined, these three approaches give fruitful results

especially when applied to undergraduate students of politics and IR. The

chapter ends with a set of recommendations on when, with whom, and how to

utilize each technique.