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Jeremy Youde, ‘Crushing Their Dreams? Simulations and Student Idealism’, International Studies Perspectives, 9(3) 2008: 348‒56.
In-class simulations can offer students an excellent opportunity to apply the lessons they have learned in a practical and fun manner. The literature on active learning in international relations demonstrates the many values simulations possess. In running a simulation on the conflict in Darfur, I identified an additional potential value in in-class simulations: they can be a technique for tempering student idealism. Students often fail to appreciate the disconnect between their personal political convictions and the political realities that impede conflict resolution. Simulations allow students to apply theory to practice in a way that encourages students to temper their idealism by acknowledging political realities on the ground. I discuss how a week-long simulation on Darfur encouraged students to balance idealism and realism and understand why reaching agreements in the international community can be so difficult.