Teaching Foreign Policy Decision-Making Processes Using Role-Playing Simulations: The Case of US–Iranian Relations


Political Science & International Affairs

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Most undergraduate courses on foreign policy discuss important models and explanations of foreign policy decision making, such as the rational actor, organizational process and governmental politics models, and groupthink. It is often difficult for students to fully understand how to apply and use these concepts to analyze foreign policy decision-making processes. One way to encourage such analytical thinking is to have students utilize various models to explain a specific event. While this is a useful task, students often gain a greater level of comprehension when they are evaluating a decision-making process in which they have personally taken part in. As such, role-playing simulation can be a very effective tool in helping students learn to understand and, more importantly, apply these various decision-making models and explanations. This paper presents an example of how simulations can help teach these concepts by presenting specific information regarding a simulation of US–Iranian relations.