The Ohio State National Security Simulation bridges the gap between classroom learning and the real world.
The simulation is an immersive, large-scale, whole-of-government, role assumption-focused professional training exercise. Over two busy days, more than 130 professional, graduate, and undergraduate students from more than a half dozen programs learn-by-doing professionalism, process, and decision-making in government. Arrayed around them is relentless press and social media scrutiny–led by real reporters–and a noisy political culture.
The simulation places law, policy, intelligence, military, communications, and business management students in their respective roles. It begins with the world as it is. Students draw on everything they have learned so far in their education as they respond in real time to new inputs from expert scenario architects on the Simulation’s Control Team and to decisions by other players. Together with an elite group of seasoned practitioners in top roles–including federal judges, legislators, reporters, retired generals–students must work as parts of multi-profession teams and use multi-institution processes to solve problems ripped from the headlines. The simulation presents players with realistic dilemmas and pressures of time, personality, information, consequence, and ethics. Ultimately, scenario outcomes are determined by player decisions.
Practitioners also provide mentoring, feedback, and networking opportunities, and deliver keynote remarks on professional development during luncheon breaks.
This unique event is sponsored The Ohio State University’s Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA, formerly Democracy Studies); the Moritz College of Law’s Program on Law and Leadership, Legislation Clinic, Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies (CILPS), and I/S Journal; the Mershon Center for International Security Studies; the Fisher College of Business; the John Glenn College of Public Affairs; the International Studies Program; the Communications Department; the History Department; and Battelle. The simulation would not be possible without greatly appreciated investments of time and energy by administrators, faculty, staff, and students throughout the Ohio State community. We welcome the involvement of new sponsors and participants, at Ohio State and beyond. The simulation builds on a dozen national security simulations the simulation director, Professor Dakota Rudesill of the Moritz College of Law, has designed and run at Ohio State, Yale, and Georgetown.
To see what really goes on during the simulation, watch the video below.
Reflections on the Simulation Experience
“The Ohio State National Security Simulation is a great training experience. Students get to experience, in rich detail, how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches interact, as well as how those interactions are shaped by the press, social media, and the private sector. The students did a marvelous job and learned quite a bit about how government really works.” —Ohio Senator Larry Obhof, President of the Ohio Senate (role-played the Senate Majority Leader, 2017)
“I wish all young professionals before they go into government could have the benefit of this remarkable simulation Ohio State has built. You will not find a more intensive or realistic experience, short of doing the real thing. Amazing!”
– U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (ret.) (role-played the Senate Majority Leader, 2016)
“The simulation is very impressive. It is a campus-wide training exercise that sets Ohio State apart. Both when they get it right and when they make mistakes, students learn valuable lessons about how to be professionals.” – Chief Judge Colleen McMahon ’73, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (who role played a federal judge)
“In the military we say ‘we train as we fight.’ That means getting out of the classroom and exercising under the same tough conditions you will encounter in
the field. That means learning to work as a team of teams, with everyone playing their role, and managing operational pressures. Training-as-you-fight means learning to deal with “fog and friction”–uncertainty, and the tensions generated as people and organizations interact. The Ohio State simulation is an excellent train-as-you-fight exercise, here for the benefit of students in multiple fields. Every student should have this opportunity.” – Maj. Gen. Tim McMahon (USAF, ret.) (role-played the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command)
“The simulation is outstanding. Ohio State did a great job of pulling this together, and it was a terrific learning experience for all of the students involved. The students were engaged, respectful, and a delight to be around. I would hire the student who advised me in a second. He conducted himself professionally, hit all the right notes, and performed at a very high level. What a rich and rewarding experience.” – U.S. Rep. Zack Space (ret.), Moritz ‘86 (role-played a U.S. Senator)
“This simulation was the best live-action, in-role training event that I have participated in — better, frankly, than my military training in important ways. This Simulation is a complete experience, with both triumphs and failures. Your decisions matter, with ripple effects for other parts of government. Heading up the Department of Justice, I felt my greatest success was keeping the law in the room, despite pushback from non-lawyers eager to take action.” – Sam Roddy, Moritz ’17, law student (role-played the Attorney General)
“Working directly for a real U.S. Senator was absolutely amazing. It was a steep learning curve, and I learned a great deal from the very real stress and pressure the simulation placed on all of us. The reality of it was truly incredible. One of the most important lessons was the importance of maintaining calm and focus, instead of allowing one’s thoughts to spiral aimlessly. I felt pushed in all the right ways, and have grown as a public relations worker and professional.” – Gabrielle Delanois, ’18, Communications major (role-played press secretary to a U.S. Senator)
“The simulation was a high intensity experience. It was very cool to see everything that I was taught in my intelligence classes applied in a working, hands-on environment. I will commission as a military intelligence officer next spring confident that everything I learned in the simulation will help me from day one.”
– Syd Kiel, ’17, Security & Intelligence major (role-played intelligence advisor)
“I simply did not want the simulation to end. It was like finishing a great game I know I will never get to play again. I wish it could have lasted longer.” – Bryan Dove, Moritz ’17, law student (role-played Legal Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)