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DPRK WMD Conference Classroom Simulation

by Alexander Montgomery

Twelve states have agreed to meet to resolve the ongoing tensions surrounding North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. Each delegation is composed of representatives of multiple different ministries within each country. Collectively, the goal of the conference is to pass a joint resolution to move towards a resolution of these tensions.

The DPRK Simulation is a classroom simulation originally developed by Scott D. Sagan at Stanford University; this 2019 version is by Professor Alexander H. Montgomery at Reed College. It allows students to act as delegates to discuss tensions surrounding the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction. The version here is intended for the end of an introduction to international relations class with about 48 students. It has a long runtime (18 hours!), but can easily be adapted for fewer students (as few as 18) and shorter runtimes (as short as 3 hours). Students seek to achieve a set of secret goals vis-à-vis the other countries present in the simulation, many of which directly contradict each other and some of which have nothing to do with the topic but are provided to increase interactions among the delegations. Students are “credentialed” and must send all agreements to their “heads of state” via email for approval to keep their policies and strategies in-bounds.

The core lessons are similar to Alex Wellerstein’s simulation (whose instructions I have used as a template for producing these): how diplomatic negotiation works and why it succeeds or fails, how state goals constrain those negotiations, how to get to agreements despite contradictory aims, and how best to spy on other countries. They write their final papers in the class by using the theories learned during the course to explain or understand the process or outcome of the negotiations.

The ZIP file contains the materials used in the simulation, and several files for the educator, including:

            Instructions for educators

            Background readings

            Guide for the students

            Research links for the students’ memos

            Sample memos

            Powerpoint briefing given to the students (sorry, no notes, I have a recording if you contact me directly)

            Secret goals

            Assignment given at the end

            Syllabus for context

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