BYU political science professor gives Ukraine nuclear crisis simulation

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BYU political science adjunct professor Kerry M. Kartchner gives a nuclear crisis simulation in the Kennedy Center on May 18. Students in attendance were separated into four groups representing Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the United States and were given two fictitious crisis scenarios to discuss. (Megan Zaugg)

A BYU political science professor gave a nuclear crisis simulation with an emphasis on the Ukraine conflict for students to practice negotiations and discussions surrounding the natures of different simulated crises.

Adjunct professor Kerry M. Kartchner and 16 BYU students gathered at the Kennedy Center on May 18 and were separated into four groups representing Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the United States. Kartchner asked the students to discuss two nuclear crises scenarios, which were fictitious and for educational purposes only.

After receiving each scenario, the groups went into different classrooms and discussed the aftermath of the respective crises. Appointed diplomats from each group communicated with other groups to determine needs, demands and possible outcomes. After the private discourse, they came back together to negotiate.

“This is the first time we’ve done a simulation in this class,” Kartchner said. “It was a success; they asked all the right questions.”

Kartchner, who teaches several political science classes each semester depending on the needs of the department, said his favorite part of the simulations was seeing students discover the real world applications to principles they discussed in class.

Kartchner also said simulations are an important part of political science classes because they allow students to think through issues from the point of view of the organizations they represent.

“It can be frustrating, but it’s very realistic,” Kartchner said. “Often the information is incomplete or inaccurate, and there’s no good answer.”

BYU political science adjunct professor Kerry M. Kartchner gives a nuclear crisis simulation in the Kennedy Center on May 18. Students in attendance were separated into four groups representing Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the United States and were given two fictitious crisis scenarios to discuss. (Megan Zaugg)

BYU political science major Auria Orencia said simulations are important to consider different positions in world events.

“It’s especially important when it involves a lot of lives that aren’t necessarily ours,” Orencia said. “Even if we’re not involved in the situation, we need to think about the possible outcomes that could affect everyone.”

After the groups discussed both scenarios presented to them, they took turns to share their final decisions about how to handle the situations. Based on their decisions, Kartchner showed a simulated outcome to show the consequences each decision posed.

BYU political science major Brigham Welch said simulations allow him to put himself in the shoes of decision makers.

“I was representing the U.S. in the simulation,” Welch said. “It makes you think through actions a lot more.”

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