Students Conduct International Court Simulation
Who would think that a dispute over three U.S. tuna boats fishing off the coast of Ecuador would matter to students at Roanoke College? Well, pretty much everybody involved in a simulation held in a special topics international law class run by Dr. Howard Warshawsky.
The Great Tuna Boat Chase and Massacre Case took students through issues of excessive maritime territorial claims and hot pursuit to alien rights and reparation matters in analyzing an international dispute that put U.S. crewmen in custody in Ecuador for manslaughter and resisting arrest on the high seas. The class took on the roles of judges, applicants and respondents who tried the case in front of the International Court of Justice. The case illustrated to Roanoke College students the complexity of international law.
Senior Emil Caillaux from Peru, who took the class this semester, says that students try their best because the simulation turns a typical class into something students really get into. "It provides a motivation that is lacking in other classes. I feel that I have learned so much more."
His classmate Miroslav Batka'07, an international student majoring in economics and international relations, comments, "It was good practice. Lots of research, lots of detail. And it is a good way to get to know the people in the class."
Warshawsky, the head of the political science department, is well-known for his high expectations and his interactive learning methods. This is the reason why entry into his classes is competitive. He uses simulations of the United Nations Security Council and the National Security Council in his international organizations and U.S. foreign policy classes, respectively. This is the first time that an international court simulation has been done.
Simulations provide a different way of learning about things. By varying types of activities within a classroom, there is a better chance that people will become interested in the subject matter. Warshawsky gives his students freedom and not too much direction. There is no necessary anticipated outcome and that is what is realistic about the situation.
The simulations provoke students to think about issues from the perspective of the players. This gives a better understanding of the people involved in the political process.
"I remember the simulations we did in Warshawsky's classes. They create a connection between domestic and foreign politics that is experienced first hand. So far I haven't had any other class that uses such interactive methods," said Nina Barzachka'03, Roanoke alumna and second-year political science graduate student at the University of Virginia.
Warshawsky commented that these types of simulations are becoming more common today. "Students generally spend a lot of time doing interactive things such as surfing the Internet and playing video games, so they need a more interactive way to learn." Simulations provide a different way of learning and give students hands-on experience in international politics.
Warshawsky obtained his Ph.D. and M.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He has been teaching at Roanoke College since 1974. He has served in the United States Army as an artillery officer and has worked for the CIA as an intelligence research analyst. He has been a commentator and panelist on television and radio.