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Manuscripts in Progress


        Following my interest in improving the way we engage undergraduate students, I have been developing two research notes. Both concern ways in which gamification can facilitate learning so that students take the step from knowing information to internalizing the course material. Simulations have gained increasing popularity, with good reason. They are excellent activities which I incorporate into almost all of my classes. The manuscripts below focus on two other techniques that access a different approach to gamification.

        The first utilizes Twine - a free and accessible tool to develop interactive stories. The second suggests one method that may help students empathize with some elements of human insecurity, particularly during conflict, from a safe and still relatively detached virtual environment. 






Description: UNESCO has identified empathy as a vital element to enable students - and individuals outside the classroom - to enhance their social competence and promote civic behavior. To this end, the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at The Pennsylvania State University and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway have developed The Empathy Project,  with a version for persons aged 18 to 25. The program includes a 12-week guided curriculum undergraduate instructors may implement in their classroom, incorporating both traditional teaching methods and active learning methods. 

        As an instructor of Human Security, I similarly value activating empathy as an element of my course goals and materials. Empathy allows us to engage deeply with ongoing discussions concerning the intentional victimization of civilians and the unintended consequences of civic behavior. It allows us to critically evaluate effective solutions to human insecurity and make informed, analytical civic decisions. This principle applies not only to human security studies, but any science that captures and responds to human experience. However, empathy is also an element that cannot be imposed upon students or measured for a grade. It is a quality developed subjectively and intrinsically, which can challenge instructors who endeavor to activate empathy as part of student learning and development.

        This paper suggests a supplement to UNESCO's Empathy Project. I explore the benefits and opportunities that immersive simulation (sim) video games can present, both as tools for instructors to evaluate empathy-oriented modes of active learning as well as a possible activity in itself that may be valuable in some classroom contexts. I illustrate these principles through a pedagogical analysis of two immersive sims: Papers, Please (in which the player acts as an immigration border inspector who has to balance material needs and tangible consequences with increasingly complex moral decisions); and This War of Mine (in which the player acts as a few besieged civilians who must navigate survival and difficult decision-making until a ceasefire is reached at a random time unknown to the player). 

Activating Empathy in the Classroom:

Lessons from Immersive Simulation Video Games

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