ATLANTA—Maurice Raeford (M.I.S. in Urban Studies) participated on a winning team in the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition announced by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
Raeford, representing Georgia State university, was a member of the Fifth Place regional winning team that participated virtually on February 27. More than 400 students from 120 universities in 30 countries competed virtually during one of four virtual competitions hosted on February 27 and March 6.
The NASPAA-Batten competition connects public policy students from a vast network of universities worldwide through simulated gameplay annually. Developed by experts at the Batten School’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming (CLSG) and backed by real-world data, the simulation places students in leadership roles within a time-sensitive, fast-paced environment where they must work together to minimize the impact of a deadly infectious disease. This year’s topic was titled “The Pandemic Game 2.0.”
“The competition was exciting because I was able to meet and compete with intellectuals from around the world,” said Raeford. “We were able to see what we would do in that situation and how our education and backgrounds would affect our decision-making. There were approximately 100 students in my time frame broken down into teams of five, split into five worlds with four counties.”
For the simulation, Raeford and his teammates – from Austria, Denmark, Chicago and New York – were tasked with making decisions around Covid that included, but were not limited to, distribution of PPP, mask mandates, stimulus packages, travel restrictions and lockdowns through a state of emergency.
“As we made decisions, the economic health, infection rate, public opinion and death rate increased or declined,” he said. “Each round simulated a 365-day period. Our strategy was to close boards in the beginning to maintain and prevent the spread of virus, and as virus infection hit 50,000 out of 200 million citizens, we limited domestic travel and eventually went into a state of emergency. Through these methods, we came in first in our world in the first round and second in round two.”
“Simulation-based learning is incredibly valuable, as it applies theory to practice and goes beyond conventional modes of learning,” said NASPAA Simulation Education Director Supriya Golas. “Through these simulations, students can take what they’ve learned in the classrooms and apply it to simulated real-world experiences. We hope these tools will prepare students for the next major global event, whether it’s a pandemic or climate crisis.”
Raeford used his finance and urban studies backgrounds to understand the state of the country his team represented.
“We had the poorest and most populated county,” he said, “so “I was able to put these two courses works together to help my team make decisions.”
He also noted many ways the experience has impacted him.
“This experience helps my future plans because it really exhibited how my degree work is interlocked,” he said. “I plan to explore a career in community and development and at this point, Covid is a factor. Also, in our timeslot, we placed fifth out of 20 groups and made new friends. Among my team, we joked and had similar perspectives on American and European politics and world views. Everyone’s opinion was accepted, and we made a What’s App chat and followed each other on LinkedIn and Facebook. I was able to make friends in countries that I have never been to. It was a great experience and has opened my eyes to so many similarities.”
“Maurice is one of a few students the Andrew Young School nominated to enter the competition this year,” said public management and policy department chair Cathy Yang Liu. “Congratulations to Maurice and all other participants for successfully completing this simulation exercise and applying the skills they learned in the classrooms to real-world problems.”
“We’ve extensively updated our simulation to reflect the public health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19,” said CLSG Acting Manager Adam Roux. “It’s a great opportunity for aspiring policymakers to test their leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills against a scenario like the one we are all living through. Experiential learning tools such as the Pandemic Game can help bridge classroom learning and real-world experience, training future leaders to better navigate challenging situations.”
In the coming months, the CLSG will develop a classroom version of the simulation which will be available free of charge for the next three years. NASPAA will distribute the free classroom version to its 300 member schools.