Category Archives: Uncategorized

Social Media

While several campus organizations such as WDCV and the college farm use Facebook as a way interacting with the community, Dickinson faculty make greater user of Twitter.  Some of our favorite examples:

  • Ed Webb  – Professor Webb’s personal Twitter feed focuses on the Middle East.  By continually engaging with a wider audience he’s able to bring his students into a wider discussion with other users from around the world.
  • Dave Richeson – Professor Richeson uses Twitter as a way of interacting with colleagues with news and questions about math and teaching.
  • Dickinson College Commentaries – The official Twitter feed  of the Dickinson College Commentaries project maintained by Professor Francese includes discussion on the classics, digital humanities and updates from DCC.

Peacemaker Game – updated syllabus and assignment

Professor Staub sent me his updated syllabus and assignment for the use of the game Peacemaker in his conflict resolution.  It was one of the first and probably still the best use of a game we’ve had at the college.  The quick summary is that students are asked to apply theories of conflict resolution that they’ve learned in class to the game.  They then write a paper reflecting on their experience.  One of the important factors that led to its success is that Professor Staub’s assignment doesn’t require that the game reflect the conflict with 100% accuracy, only that it provides a scenario thats both realistic and meaningful enough to provide a venue for the analysis.

Syllabus:

CCRSyllabus2010

Assignment:

Time #1:

Play Peacemaker, an electronic simulation “game” which is available on a couple of computers in the computer lab on the 2nd floor of Bosler. Those computers are marked with a Peacemaker logo on the table next to the computer screen.

You should play at least 1/2 hour, more if possible. You can play in either the role of the Palestinian President or the Israeli Prime Minister.

Write your 2nd journal entry reflecting on your experience with Peacemaker. Some sample questions to prompt your thinking:

  • What happened?
  • Why?
  • Thinking back, did you have any kind of strategy? If so, describe your strategy.
  • What would you do differently next time you play?
  • What have you learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from this experience?
  • What have you learned about conflict and conflict resolution more generally from this experience?

Time #2 for Mid-Semester Essay:

Write a 6-8 page essay, based on your second experience playing Peacemaker. Your essay should address the following:

  • Describe your strategy, including the sources for your strategy by referencing specific conflict studies literature that you’ve read in the course to date.
  • Analyze the intent of your strategy. Why did you choose this strategy? What did you think would happen?
  • Describe what actually happened in the game. What was different when you played as the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President?
  • Analyze the game as it unfolded. In what ways did your strategy work? Or in what ways did your strategy fail to reach the desired peacemaking outcome? Why did this happen?
  • Conclude with an analytical discussion of conflict patterns and conflict resolution strategies and principles, linking back to the conflict studies literature in relation to what you have learned by trying to put the research literature into practice in this gaming environment.
  • Citations are required. You may use in-text citations (Author, page #).
  • Attach your game log (see below) as an appendix.

Tips for the successful completion of this assignment:

  • Play Peacemaker at least twice so that you can experience the game as both the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President. To do this assignment well, you should expect to spend at least 60 minutes with Peacemaker, more if desired.
  • Before you play, review your notes on readings and class lectures/discussions. In reviewing the range of what you have learned about conflict and conflict resolution, identify concepts, principles and strategies that would enable you to develop a strategy for your peacemaking efforts.
  • You should also review your first journal entry on playing Peacemaker. What went wrong (or right) that first time, and what do you want to do differently this time. If something worked well the first time, think about the principle/strategy embedded in that action, and test if you can replicate the effect this time.
  • Develop an explicit strategy.
  • Play Peacemaker in a manner that implements your strategy. By playing as both leaders, you can also pay attention if your strategy needs to change in relation to the two “sides.”
  • Keep a log of your moves and their consequences in the game.You will have to turn in your game log with your essay. Recommendation: You may consider logging on to two computers in Bosler 209, or bring a laptop if you have one. Play Peacemaker on one computer and use the 2nd computer to log your actions/consequences (in order to avoid a hand-written log and the extra step of typing it for submission). Your log must document your actions and their consequences by monitoring the various polls and game “thermometers,” and new conditions generated by the game. Use Word’s numbering format to record your action with its associated consequence and new conflict condition.

By keeping this log, you will be able to actually analyze the relationship between actions and consequences, rather than refer to generalities about overall strategies. Your paper will be much richer if you are able to move beyond description to analysis.

My Review Criteria:

  • I will be looking for a thoughtful and intentional game strategy that is based on the conflict studies literature that you have read to date.
  • I will also be looking for your ability to draw from a broad range of readings and class discussions in your analysis of your game experience.
  • I will be looking for thorough game logs.
  • Overall, I am looking for your ability to demonstrate mastery of the course material we have covered so far in your game strategy and analysis.

Note: You do not have to “win” (achieve peace) to this assignment well. Remember to pay attention to Ross’s distinction between “relative success” and “absolute success.”

Even if you happen to get “lucky” and achieve a peaceful settlement without having a strategy based in the conflict studies literature or being able to analyze how you got there, you will get a poor grade!

Final tip: This is a short paper, so you will need to stay focused. Don’t wastr valuable space trying to provide a history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Good luck… Let the peacemaking begin!

Game for Chemistry

We haven’t had many new case examples for gaming recently.  Peacemaker is still very popular for Middle Eastern Studies and Conflict Resolution.  Ed Webb’s “Empires” course still uses my Civ IV mod.  Fold-it and Global Warming Interactive are still used for a couple “dry labs” in the sciences.  But these are also all fairly old, and we’ve had some set backs as well.  Blizzard has cracked down on US players connecting to European servers, so I can’t play WoW with my students in Germany any longer.  The Civ series has also been disappointing since the original Civ IV.  Colonization was a disappointingly simplistic and stereotypical simulation of the colonial period.  While Civ V added some interesting elements with the social policy, they also greatly simplified or eliminated economic issues of expansion, the role of religion, and the factors involved in bilateral relations.

On the positive side, I was very happy to Majong Chem on Bryan Alexander’s Twitter feed.  It does pretty much what you’d expect.  Depending on the game you select, if you’re familiar with the combinations for elements and oxidation, solubility or their own charges, you can eliminate blocks by matching pairs of the element names, symbols,  or number of electrons.  The topics are all common in Chem 101 courses, so we’ve had one professor suggest it to her students for review  already.  I’d rather see a game where students had to apply their knowledge of chemistry to achieve some higher level task, but it’s a start.