The 2017 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition was on the topic of Food Security and the world-wide effort to address UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, by 2030).
On February 25 (February 26 in China), nearly 400 graduate students in public policy and
management from around the world traveled to eight university locations (Maastricht, New York City, Washington D.C. area, Indianapolis, Bogotá, Phoenix, Seattle, and Beijing) to compete in a one-day immersive computer simulation that challenged them to advance global food security. Students from different schools were mixed onto teams of 16-20, where they bonded as members of staff of a fictional global non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to reduce global hunger in five world regions. They analyzed data, made policy proposals, reacted the computer simulation results, drafted memos with recommendations, and presented their strategy recommendations to teams of local site judges.
Those sites judges selected winners from among the teams competing. The top winner at each of the eight sites then advanced to four distinguished “super judges” for an electronic review of videos and written material produced on the day of the competition. Super judges included Steve Cohen (Executive Director, Earth Institute), Josette Sheeran (former Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme), Anand Desai (Section Head of Evaluation and Assessment, National Science Foundation), and Mahfuz Ahmed (Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank).
David Birdsell, President of NASPAA and dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College said, “We are delighted to recognize such fine work from student teams in Bogotá and New York. Food security is one of the world’s most pressing policy concerns; the participants have not only learned a great deal about the issues involved, but have shown the capacity to deal substantively and creatively with the problems they identified, giving us every confidence that they will go on to do outstanding work in public service.”
“World leaders often don’t get a ‘do over’ when making decisions on the international stage,” said Allan C. Stam, Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy. “Batten is investing in developing simulations for public policy education to develop global leaders who have practice collaborating with peers to make hard policy decisions in time-compressed environments. The food security field is now brightened with hundreds of scholars with new solutions to feed 790 million people affected with hunger worldwide.”
“Simulation modeling and serious games for learning are a growing trend in public policy
education,” Gerard P. Learmonth, Sr., Research Professor and Director of Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at Batten, a global leader in simulations for public policy education. “Serious games provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their
understanding of complicated world events and to experience decision-making that can affect outcomes, all in a simulated environment.”