EU simulations: Scholarly reflection and research on an innovative teaching methodology


27-28th September 2013,

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

Over the last decades, the academic landscape of European Integration has been reshaping - leading to the emergence of interdisciplinary and multinational educational programmes, as well as to an increased use of innovative learning tools and concepts. Among other things, these were supposed to foster learning outcomes attuned to the Bologna Process, the Lisbon Agenda and most recent EU programmes for youth training and employment. In the knowledge-based society, instructivist approaches focusing on learning to learn are increasingly being replaced by constructivist approaches with emphasis on experimental and cooperative learning cultivating problem-based, problem-solving and communication skills. Among these, blended learning and simulation games are most prominent.

In teaching European Union, simulations are employed for multiple reasons, the most central being the attempt to help students to better grasp the multifaceted and fluid 'negotiated-order' of the European integration, to understand EU decision-making, etc. In sum, the main aim of this innovative tool is to reduce the EU's complexity in an accessible and engaging manner and to foster outcomes attuned to the needs of rapidly changing knowledge-based society. This is achieved by using new cognitive and pedagogical models such as cooperative active learning to advance problem-solving, interaction and cooperation skills, which are often underdeveloped by traditional teaching methods focusing on knowledge transition.

Scholarly reflection and research concerning this teaching methodology have begun during the last decade, but they are still at a relatively early stage. Further academic work is needed, for example on issues of conceptualisation, design, didactics and evaluation of EU simulations. In particular, there is a lack of systematic work connecting this wide array of approaches and contributions to research on EU simulation games, a gap that is to be bridged through this project. Hence, this Call for Papers has been launched in view of the growing use of EU simulations in academic teaching, its promise as a didactic tool and due to the indicated lack of scholarly work on EU role-play games.

The Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration Studies together with the Institute of Political Science at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz invite scholars of international relations, political science and neighbouring disciplines with a clear focus on European integration, who employ simulation games in their teaching, and/or engage in scholarly research of the various aspects of employing simulations, to engage in a two day workshop on conceptual, methodological, and didactic issues related to this innovative learning tool

Based on the workshop, the organizers are planning to include selected contributions for a special issue (the journal European Political Science has shown an interest) and/or an edited book volume.

There is sufficient funding for participants' accommodation during their stay in Mainz. (Mainz is about 20 min. from Frankfurt airport). Pending additional funding application, a limited number of travel grants will be available - subject to selection based on the fit and promise of the contribution and the financial resources available.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is 14 May 2013. Please submit your abstracts, including title of proposed paper, author's name and contact email address, together with a brief outline of the proposed paper of approximately 150-300 words per email to Prof. Arne Niemann (<>) AND Annika Herbel (<>).


Proposed papers may cover the following areas:

 1.  Simulations and Simulation Games as Learning Tools v  Simulation game as a tool bridging the gap between theory and practice v  Benefits and  challenges of employing experimental and cooperative learning tools

  • Changing in-class communication patterns to foster new skills v  Constructivist approaches to teaching European Integration v  Bargaining vs. problem solving in EU simulation

 1.  Designing Simulation games

  • Educational objectives and theme selection - choosing the right topic v  Adjusting simulations to different target groups - IR major vs. minor, BA vs. graduate students, university students vs. secondary school pupils, etc.
  • Organising simulation game teaching  sessions - preparation, simulation, debriefing, assessment v  Encouraging and harmonising student preparation and participation - at home vs. in-class, individual vs. group, motivation and immersion, computer-assisted vs. student-to-student interaction

 1.  Learning Outcomes

  • Assessment of learning outcomes
  • Managing and reducing complexity
  • Fostering communication, leadership, and practical skills v  Evaluation methodologies

 1.  Open session

  • Other topics related to employing simulation games in teaching, and/or engage in scholarly research of simulations in EU studies