It is a very efficient way of learning, you get to think more outside of the box’ (Julia Bale)
‘It was pretty cool and really helpful’ (Matteo Baratta)
‘It really helps people learn something about TTIP’ (Nick Lawley)
Politics undergraduates involved in a simulation on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Simulations are some of the most interesting and newer techniques used in University teaching. Generally speaking, they are a form of active learning which involves students through active participation, enabling students to take the learning into their own hands.
The aim of simulations is to work with real-life situations and to provide an opportunity for students to engage with and directly apply the materials they have learnt. They support students immersing in a topic rather than just memorizing facts, thereby moving from ‘surface learning’ to ‘deep learning’. In so doing, simulations greatly increase students’ ability to understand a topic and remember the subject in the future – an experience very much shared by the participating students: ‘It is a very efficient way of learning, you get to think more outside of the box’ (Julia Bale). Overall, students thought ‘it was pretty cool and really helpful’ (Matteo Baratta).
In this course, the simulation aimed at helping students to actively experience the complexities of European politics. The workings of the European Union (EU) have become increasingly complex, and a simulation can allow for the complexities and varying nuances of the European political system to be better understood. In a broader context where the EU is sometimes seen as an unattractive and disenchanting topic, a simulation can show how the EU can be a fascinating topic of study, and can help changing how students perceive of and understand the EU.
The present simulation, which formed part of the Political Representation in the EU module led by Dr Sandra Kröger, engaged with the negotiations around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), one of the presently most disputed policy processes of the EU. Students were assigned to different delegations (from five different Member States, the European institutions, civil society as well as the press) and researched the real position of the respective actors towards TTIP. They thereby gained an in-depth insight into the position specific actors take on TTIP, ‘It really helps people learn something about TTIP’ (Nick Lawley).
Over a two-week period, they then engaged in negotiation processes between the involved actors and thereby experienced how much the EU political system is based on consensus-seeking and compromise: ‘You can understand why it takes so long – there are so many barriers to overcome’ (Daniel Tiernan). As one student pointed out, it is in fact ‘important to have different strategies in the EU’ (Cristina Brinceanu). After initial substantial disagreements, between the different national delegations, but also with the European Parliament delegation, over the basic features of the future TTIP, students reached a much applauded compromise which satisfied both the more critical national delegations as well as that of the UK which was the most positive towards TTIP – what more can we hope for?
During the simulation some students acted as representatives from the press. The following are examples of press releass they drafted following the simulation.
Date: 10 February 2015