Simulations in the Political Science Classroom : Games without Frontiers book cover
1st Edition

Simulations in the Political Science Classroom
Games without Frontiers

ISBN 9780367699765
Published August 31, 2022 by Routledge
318 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is premised on the assumption that games and simulations provide welcome alternatives and supplements to traditional lectures and class discussions—especially in political science classrooms, where real-world circumstances provide ideal applications of theory and policy prescriptions. Implementing such an active learning program, however, is sometimes daunting to overburdened professors and teaching assistants. This book addresses the challenges of using games and simulations in the political science classroom, both online and in person. Each chapter offers a game or simulation that politics teachers can use to teach course concepts and explains ways to execute it effectively. In addition, the authors in this volume make a proactive case for games and simulations. Each chapter offers research to evaluate the effectiveness of the activity and pedagogical design best practices. Thus, the book not only serves as a game design resource, but also offers demonstrable support for using games and simulations in the political science classroom. Aimed at teachers at all levels, from high school through college, the book may be especially appealing to graduate students entering teaching for the first time and open to new teaching and learning approaches.

Table of Contents


List of Contributors

Preface and Acknowledgments

1 Jeux Sans Frontières: How Games Push the Frontiers of Learning

Mark Harvey, James Fielder, and Ryan Gibb

I. Pedagogical Foundations of Games and Simulations

2. Gaming to Lose: Learning from Failure in Classroom Games

James Fielder

3. "I am Che Guevara!": The Value of Roleplaying in Educational Experiences

Jennifer Shinefeld, Michael Surbrook, and Mark Harvey

4. An Argument for Lengthier, More Concrete, More Outcomes-Oriented Games

Edmond Hally

5. Making Game Design and Management Easy: Tips for the "Almost Convinced"

David Claborn and Mark Harvey

III. Designing and Teaching Games

6. Exploring Federalism and Interstate Relationships in the Classroom: An In-Class ‘Race to the

Bottom’ Teaching Simulation

Derek Glasgow

7. Playing Politics: Utilizing Simulations to Expose Students to the Factors that Shape Congressional Decision Making

Kellee J. Kirkpatrick, and James Stoutenborough,

8. Medicare-for-All or the Status Quo? Simulating Lobbying, Policy Debate, and the Party Line in Congress

Lucy Britt

9. To Veto or Not to Veto: A Simulation of Presidential Decision Making

James Stoutenborough, Kellee J. Kirkpatrick, Johnathan W. L. Blakeman, and James Pascali

10. Pick a Justice: Simulating Judicial Selection on the U.S. Supreme Court

Ryan J.Williams,

11. Using Moot Court in Introduction to Law Courses

Edward F. Kammerer, Jr.

12. A Congressional Election Simulation for a Small Class

Bruce F. Nesmith

13. A Game of Difference: The Effect of Role-playing Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Socioeconomic Class in a Political Theory Course

Edmond Hally

14. Taking a Risk: Can a Game on War Teach Students About Peace?

Mark Harvey

15. Model Diplomacy in the Classroom

Ryan Gibb

III. Conclusion

16. Games Without Frontiers: The Final Pieces of the Puzzle

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Mark Harvey is an associate professor, honors program coordinator, and director of graduate programs at the University of Saint Mary in Kansas.

James Fielder is an instructor at Colorado State University and a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force.

Ryan Gibb is an associate professor and the coordinator of international studies at Baker University.


As someone who uses a lot of games and simulations in my class, I found this book an extremely useful resource for thinking about how to use different approaches to simulations – everything from role-playing to a modified version of Risk to other approaches – all to teach students more effectively in the classroom. The editors, Harvey, Fielder, and Gibb have put together a very strong set of materials useful for people who have never used simulations before as well as for people who have used them regularly in the past. I strongly recommend this book.

Victor Asal, University at Albany (State University of New York)

This book provides a refreshing, modern, and accessible take on the validity, utility, and implementation of political science games in the classroom. Grounded in pedagogical theory and replete with practical advice, this book will prove useful for both veteran orchestrators of games and those looking to dip their toes into the pool for the first time. It is an essential read for anyone interested in enhancing their pedagogy.

Alexander Cohen, Clarkson University

Drawing on their own experience in the classroom, Harvey, Fielder, and Gibb make the case for the addition of simulations to the political science teaching toolkit in the service of making abstract and complex concepts real for our students. In the process, this volume provides specific examples tailored for undergraduate education. These examples embody best practices and practical insights for educators interested in simulations both for a single class period and across an entire semester, and reflect what has become a pedagogical turn towards the use of immersive environments for teaching and assessment. This book is a must-read for educators interested in incorporating exercises into their syllabi.

Andrew Reddie, University of California-Berkeley

In this book, Harvey, Fielder, and Gibb provide timely, expert advice on when and how educational games should be used to enhance political science core courses in American Government and International Relations as well as those university electives aimed at building better strategic leaders on the side of democracy. They show educators how to accomplish all this by channeling diverse students' natural desire to succeed.

Damon Coletta, US Air Force Academy 

I highly recommend this book for all faculty exploring ways to incorporate active learning into their courses. Students may remember the things that you say when you give a lecture, but they truly learn when you engage them in games and simulations.

Heather Evans, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise