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This year’s crisis simulation marks return to face-to-face diplomacy

June 8, 2022


Student presenting to crisis simulation opening plenary sessionEach spring, the Jackson School partners with the US Army War College to provide students across the university an opportunity to see what it’s like to engage in high-level multinational talks through the International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise. This year’s crisis simulation – the first in-person exercise since 2019 – was a dramatic return to the diplomatic role-playing of the past. With ceremonial gift-giving, espionage, and fake strategy documents left out as decoys, the two-day event held May 14-15 brought together 54 graduate and undergraduate students who worked diligently to resolve the tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Designed as a capstone experience for graduate students in the mid-career Master of Arts in Applied International Studies (MAAIS) program, the annual crisis simulation course is open to other graduate and undergraduate students; since 2019, cadets in the Air Force ROTC have also joined the weekend simulation.

Four student negotiators seated around a tableColonel Tony Verenna, the exercise director, gave the UW participants high marks. “This was my third time working with the team from the Jackson School and the Master of Arts in Applied International Studies program and I cannot say enough about the professionalism of the faculty, students and mentors. In this tremendous experiential learning environment, the UW students not only excelled in the exercise but also managed to have a good time. Hopefully, they will be able to leverage this memorable experience in their desired work, no matter where their careers take them.”

The students’ diplomatic efforts drew the attention of UW News and the UW Daily, both of which covered the exercise. The UW News story features Professor Robert Pekkanen, who teaches the crisis simulation course that prepares students for the weekend simulation. The article in the UW Daily incorporates the comments of many of this year’s participants, including students, the Army War College control team and a retired Foreign Service Officer who served as one of the team mentors.

Many thanks to our partners at the US Army War College and the Air Force ROTC program for their assistance in this collaboration and to the East Asia Center and the Center for Global Studies for their financial support.


Photo credits: Dennis Wise