Dr. Charity Butcher Leads Peace and Conflict Resolution Simulation for High School Students

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 17, 2018) — While the School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development focuses on undergraduate and graduate education, we are also highly committed to providing services to the broader community, often through the training and workshops provided at our Center for Conflict Management.

However, sometimes members of our faculty have the privilege and opportunity to participate in educating youth on issues related to peace and conflict resolution. The Atlanta Institute for Diplomatic Leadership (AIDL) was created by Bob McCormick, a former High School teacher, to promote civil communication, relationship-building, mediation of conflict, and a greater understanding of the world among high school students. To accomplish these goals, AIDL offers a free summer workshop, held at Emory’s Center for Ethics, for Atlanta area high school students. The 2018 workshop, held June 25-29, had over 20 students in attendance.

One of the central elements of the workshop is a simulation, conducted and guided by Dr. Charity Butcher, one of the teaching faculty members at our School. During the simulation, students play members of the United States National Security Council (including the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Energy, Administrator of USAID, Director of National Intelligence, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, etc.) and must decide how to deal with a crisis in South Sudan. Humanitarian intervention is a key component of the potential decision, and students must weigh the various international and domestic interests and constraints that impact (and are impacted by) their decision.

During the workshop, additional background for the simulation was provided to students by Mr. Ngor Kur Mayol, a former “Lost Boy” from South Sudan. Mr. Mayol discussed his experiences in the Sudanese conflict and provided the students with the imagery and context necessary to really understand the stakes involved in their decisions.

To deal with the situation in South Sudan, the students ultimately decided to promote education, sustainable energy, sustainable farming practices, and peace talks, though they also realized that it was easier to find short-term solutions than longer-term ones, and that many of the issues facing the country (like famine) are difficult to solve when war is being actively waged with the country.

Following the final decision by the group, Dr. Butcher debriefed the students, discussing what they had learned about the situation and on the difficulties of making international policies. Students were also able to Skype to South Sudan with Ms. Maureen Nealon, a Grants Management and Compliance Officer for AECOM International South Sudan – a USAID project in South Sudan. Ms. Nealon spoke with the students about the various courses of action they proposed and how many of these actions were indeed important for the current South Sudanese situation.

Overall, the workshop and simulation were a resounding success, and Dr. Butcher was pleased to be able to contribute her expertise on simulations to educating high school students. Such hands-on experiences provide students with an excellent opportunity to “put themselves in someone else’s shoes” and to interact more intently with various international concepts and ideas.

If you are a college professor or high school instructor and are interested in learning more about using simulations or other active learning techniques in your international relations, social studies, government, or civics classrooms, please feel free to contact Dr. Charity Butcher (cbutche2@kennesaw.edu) for additional information and upcoming workshops at the School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development.