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Teaching Diplomacy by Other Means: Using an Outside-of-Class Simulation to Teach International Relations Theory


  • The authors wish to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers, as well as Elizabeth Amato, Victor Asal, Douglas Becker, David Clinton, Steve Lamy, Mary Jane Parmentier, Jessica Peet, Bob Switky, and Nicolas de Zamaroczy.

  • [Corrections added November 14, 2014 after original online publication. Grammatical changes have been made to this article to improve clarity.]


In this article, we introduce the online version of the board game Diplomacy as a pedagogical tool to teach about the strengths and limitations of constructivism, liberalism, and realism. Beyond helping students learn about the three paradigms, the game has two additional benefits over traditional role-playing simulations. First, the online nature of the game allows it to take place outside of class, freeing up more class time, and creating fewer opportunity costs for instructors who want to use simulations. Second, Diplomacy allows for a more straightforward method of assessment because it has clear rules that apply equally to all students. Plus, the online version provides a platform that gives instructors better insight into student participation. Using data, we show that students enjoyed the game, saw it as educational, and liked the fact that they played it outside of class. We conclude that online Diplomacy and outside-of-class simulations can be used as helpful tools to teach about international relations.

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