Meet Dr. Alanna Krolikowski

So, this class is called Geopolitics and
International Security and it’s an upper level course that’s intended to introduce
students to the foundational concepts in the study of International Relations and
International Security and some of the most influential in intellectual
traditions. What’s innovative about this course is that part of the way that we do
that is by incorporating a simulation into the course. It’s a 7-10 week simulation that takes place in this online environment that has the students each playing the role of the leader of a country in a fictitious Earth-like world
made up of 12 countries. And the simulation presents the students with
tough choices. [Andrew] So it makes it a little different starting the simulation with
having 12 different backgrounds of — we have an Aerospace [major], we have some Political Science majors. [Ben] I thought that I could act a bit more optimistically than I was able
to. A lot of the things that work in theory don’t really work unmitigated in practice. [Amanda] And right now I have the 2nd highest quality of life in our little world because I have been
able to devote all of my resources in order to improve the quality of life by
buying different welfare structures and schools and other like cultural aspects.
Like I bought a couple operas…[Nelson] Many countries– They decided to put all their resources into building museums, art galleries, schools…Blah, who cares? So I decided to pull my resources into
building an army. We do have a police state. We follow Human Rights we
follow the law…[Dr.K] It’s absolutely fascinating to see how students define
their goals for the sim. Some students want for example their country to become
a cultural superpower. Other students want their country to be a leader in environmental technology, or “green technology” and other students are bent on world
domination, and really want their country to take over a lot of territory. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to see students identify those goals for
themselves and then develop strategies by which they’re going to systematically
turn by turn pursue this long term strategy for them in the international
system. [students discussing in simulation] [Randy] I play a lot of strategy games and the goal to with those is if everybody’s going to be peaceful– if you
go aggressive you’re likely to steamroll over everyone. If you go aggressive and
other people are aggressive you’re likely at least hold your own but
if you’re peaceful and other people are aggressive you’re probably going to lose.
So my strategy from the get-go when I saw I wasn’t going to have a lot of resources was — well I need to be aggressive and I need to be the one dictating terms and
conditions: I need people to react to me rather than me reacting to other people.
So that’s the kind of place I went for. [Ben] The simulation as well has been really well
integrated into the curriculum of the class; like today we were talking about
International Cooperation once we were done with the Hong Kong stuff, and she talked about international cooperation on various climate change efforts in the past but
also the example of our international cooperation like within the sim against
the NVC enemy that he was talking about… So I think she’s done a really good job
of leaving the the Sim elements real-life examples; both current and
historical, and the actual sort of theory of international relations in the text book. [Dr. K] My research in Political Science focuses on International Relations and my
position is in Policy for Science, Technology, and Innovation. A big part of
what I look at is the US-China relationship, and in particular the trade
of high-tech items between the two countries. And so a big part of that
research project is understanding how and why policymakers negotiate the trade
offs that are presented by that kind of trade: How they balance the competing
policy priorities of protecting national security, on the one hand, but fostering
commerce on the other… And that aspect of my research I actually see reflected in
the simulation on a pretty regular basis. Because what this simulation exercise
does convey I think very vividly for student participants is just how closely
tied international security issues are to international political economy, or
international trade issues and we see that the boundary between those two
types of considerations in real-world decision-making or in simulated
decision-making is really really blurry. I really learned how, for one, different
leaders can really change how things happen; so in the real world
relationships between leaders can have a big impact and it’s the same way in here.
There’s some people you just naturally trust. There’s people that you have
relationships with outside of the Foreign Affairs
and then you come together and that plays a part. There’s people that you
just know they’re going to attack you or you can’t trust and that’s kind of how
it goes. So I I know I was walking into this
class and I didn’t know much about Geopolitics our National Security; I didn’t think I would really like get the grasp of it but Dr. K is really like hooked me on this. So
when I hear them tell me that they look at news headlines differently now having
been in the role of a decision maker in a country that faces both the security
challenge and an economic challenge for example, or hearing them tell me that
they’re more sympathetic to one group of actors than they would have been in the
past, I think is very very gratifying, because literally changing the way you
think about a topic is what learning is. So I think that it’s in those kinds of
experiences and when students are able to articulate that, that we really see
evidence of the value of active learning.

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