Thirty-two Ford School students participated in the second annual International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise (ISCNE) on October 1 and 2, co-hosted by the U.S. Army War College and the Weiser Diplomacy Center. Designed for graduate students, the exercise simulates diplomatic negotiations to long-standing frozen conflicts. This year, the conflict focused on the current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.
Participants were assigned representative roles in one of seven delegations, mentored by Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky, John Ciorciari, and Carol Giacomo.
"As a former practitioner of diplomacy, I was most impressed by how closely the scenario approximated real-life situations and how seriously our students played their roles in the simulation," said Ambassador Levitsky.
Students had heated, emotional discussions as deep-seeded issues were addressed that affect people in the real-world situation.
"The simulation was an excellent way to practice strategic problem-solving and intellectual teamwork," Carol Giacomo said. "You could actually see the growth from the first day, when the students struggled to think about the Kashmir issue and find common ground with their teammates, to the second day, when the individual teams had found their rhythms and were negotiating — intently and nimbly — with competing country teams."
Ambassador Daniel Shields, who was instrumental in bringing the simulation exercise to the Ford School last year, played the role of the United Nations Special Representative to the region. Shields originally participated in the simulation when he was the Diplomatic Advisor to the Commandant of the U.S. Army War College.
"It was exciting to participate in person in the Kashmir simulation, to feel the energy for experiential learning generated by the exercise, and to see the Ford School and the U.S. Army War College continue to develop what is growing into an outstanding partnership," Shields said after the simulation.
The U.S. Army War College was also involved in staffing the simulation exercise. Colonel Chad Jagmin (MSE ‘03) served as the exercise director, Major Will Anderegg scheduled negotiations, and Ed "Cliffy" Zukowski, the ISCNE programming director acted as each delegation's Foreign Minister. They came away impressed with the students.
“The students clearly thought deeply about national interests and the ends, ways and means to achieve national goals,” said Colonel Jagmin. “The exercise presented a difficult diplomatic problem to all the delegations, but through sound strategy and keen negotiation, they moved forward the dialogue and set the group on a path for positive progress.”
"I was really impressed with how engaged the students were and how they got into their roles. Seeing their genuine reactions to things happening in the negotiations was great," said Zukowski.
The exercise concluded with students coming out of their roles to reflect on the challenges of the simulation, and how their words and actions either helped or hindered their delegation's progress.
"Over the two-day simulation, I learned a lot about diplomacy, leadership, and negotiation. This exercise was one of the most exciting events I have participated in at the Ford School," Maheen Zahid (MPP '22) said.
Christian Neubacher (MPP '23) highly recommended the simulation to anyone who wants to learn about negotiations. "The Ford/USAWC Simulation on Jammu-Kashmir was an outstanding opportunity to learn from high-level policymakers and my peers about a pressing and current diplomatic challenge, and to learn how to negotiate with other countries and to seek a compromise on the conflict,"
About the International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise (ISCNE)
The ISCNE originated in 2003 and was developed into an outreach program in 2009. Since then, the U.S. Army War College has conducted over 140 simulations with 23 different universities and institutes. Working with top-tier master's programs in foreign policy and international relations, the exercise focuses on long-standing frozen conflicts where students attempt to negotiate solutions to the many challenges associated with them.More news from the Ford School
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