Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 26/01/2009

simple sims

Sometimes even very simple simulations can sometimes be quite effective at getting a point across. In my introductory development course, I use an hour-long simulation-cum-game show to illustrate the ways in which the shift from subsistence to cash crop agriculture can have effects on everything from land distribution to gender relations to the contours of social and political power. In my upper-level peacebuilding course, I use a very short version of the ultimatum game to highlight how negotiations are rarely a simple case of (material) utility maximization, but are also shaped by normative perceptions of “fairness” and “justice.”

Surfing the web for content for this website, I came across something very simple that also gets a key point across: the Silent Majority development simulation. On the face of it, it is a very short (25 minute) role-playing exercise in which participants representing an NGO, a funding agency, the local mayor, an urban woman, and a rural woman are asking to discuss possible drinking water projects. The “rural woman” is given secret instructions, however, to only answer direct questions, and to only speak when spoken to. The purpose is to highlight some of the challenges of stakeholder consultation with disadvantaged and subaltern communities. I can see this kind of simulation “trick” being used in a variety of educational and training settings.

The simulation/class exercise is apparently based on one developed at the MIT D-Lab appropriate technologies program entitled “Wheelchairs for the World.” You’ll find the instructions and role assignments for that on the D-Lab resources and case studies page.

Hat-tip: AIDG blog.

simulating resource development, environmental sustainability, and conflict

oilgarchy OK, so Oilgarchy is in no way a serious development simulation. Still, I found it amusing—and a good example of how simulations can be used to get a message across, whether educational or political.

Click the image at right to go to the website.

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