Global Crisis Simulation

D1.5.9-12: Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.
D2.Civ.1.9-12: Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.
D2.Civ.3.9-12: Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and international agreements on the maintenance of national and international order.
D2.Geo.2.9-12: Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.
D2.Geo.11.9-12: Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.
D2.His.5.9-12: Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
D2.His.8.9-12: Analyze how current interpretations of the past are limited by the extent to which available historical sources represent perspectives of people at the time.
D3.1.9-12: Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
D4.2.9-12: Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence (linear or non-linear), examples, and details with significant and pertinent information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanation given its purpose (i.e. cause and effect, chronological, procedural, technical).
D4.5.9-12: Critique the use of the reasoning, sequencing, and supporting details of explanations.
D4.6.9-12: Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems, instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.
D4.7.9-12: Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.

Students should demonstrate a deeper understanding of how the actions of governments can impact more than just one country. Students should demonstrate knowledge of the current issues related to nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation and the possible concerns of nuclear weapons use in regional conflicts.

1. Day 1: Divide the class into pairs. These pairs will work together to understand the country they choose as well as carry out the country’s foreign policy in the simulation. Once you have divided the class, you may use any selection process for the countries to be selected (random number, pull from a bowl, pick a person, etc.) You will use the following countries for this simulation starting at the top of the list and working to the bottom until all pairs have a country:

a. United States
b. Russia
c. China
d. France
e. Great Britain
f. Germany
g. Ukraine
h. Cuba
i. North Korea
j. South Korea
k. Japan
l. Taiwan
m. India
n. Pakistan
o. Iran
p. Iraq
q. Saudi Arabia
r. Syria
s. Israel
t. Egypt
u. Lebanon
v. Afghanistan
w. Libya
x. Other countries as needed

Once all pairs have a country, instruct the students that they will be researching their country for the following information:
a. Cultural groups in the country
b. Religions practiced
c. Government
d. Short History of the Country from founding to present
e. Type and size of military. Do they have nuclear weapons.
f. What countries have they worked with. What countries are their rivals.
g. What impact has history, culture, religion and other factors have on their decisions on the global stage.
The students should put this information together in a context that will allow them to reference it during the coming simulation. Once all of this is in place, take the class to the Media Center and begin your research.

2. Day 2 : Continue research. Assist students in finding information or point them in the right direction to help them discover the information they need.

3. Day 3: Finalize research. Make sure all countries have satisfied the questions above so that the pairs understand their country and place in the world.

4. Day 4: Simulation – If you can get a larger location to spread your countries out, do so. Otherwise, have your pairs sit together in your classroom. At this point, you will explain the rules of the simulation:
a. A crisis will be introduced – as the teacher, you can invent this yourself, or you can develop crisis cards of all the possible crisis’s that you and your students can come up with. Once you have introduced the crisis, the countries directly involved will get their turn first. They must decide on a political option, a military option, or wait and see. If they choose a political option, they can try to negotiate, build a coalition, throw out the offending country’s diplomats, impose economic sanctions, or build up their military forces and carry out exercises. If they choose a military option, they can blockade, they can carry out conventional bombing strikes, they can carry out limited conventional land attacks or sea attacks, they can use an all out land, sea, air attack, they can use tactical nuclear weapons (if they have them), they can use intermediate range nuclear weapons, they can use ICBM’s. If they choose to wait and see, then the other country or countries in the crisis will get their turn before the initial country gets to make a decision. All countries involved will get to use these options. A turn is completed when all countries have had the opportunity to make an initial decision on the crisis.
b. You will keep going through turns until the crisis is resolved or ….. the world is destroyed. During the crisis, the teacher is allowed to add additional stressors to the situation. Also, during turns, countries can try to carry out secret negotiations among themselves. All treaties are binding on the signatories. Also, at the start of the crisis, make sure that students have world maps and you project a world map where all the countries can see it. This will give all participants perspective.
c. Depending on how long the crisis continues, you can extend this into part of day five.

5. Day 5: You will need to end the simulation mid way through the period no matter what has happened to this point. Once you have stopped, begin to debrief the class. Have the class discuss the crisis, what the point of view of the country was, and how decisions impacted what happened to them and the rest of the world. Once you have debriefed the crisis, have the students write a reflection on the crisis and deal with the following question – “With the Cold War over, is nuclear war more or less likely and why?” Collect these and give feedback to your students about their experiences.

This is based on 90-minute periods. You will need to double if using a 50-minute period.

This lesson plan is based on the presentation by Dr. James Wirtz entitled “The Nuclear and Missile Threat since 1991” given at the FPRI/Carthage College/1st Division Museum History Institute on America and the Modern War April 26-27, 2014.You can find the presentation at: Dr. Wirtz also references some books that might be of assistance as you prepare to carry this out. These are at the end of his presentation.

  • Gary Morris
  • McLean County High School
Grade Level
  • High School: 9, 10, 11, 12
Time Frame
  • Five 90-minute periods or ten 50-minute periods

If you have any questions about this lesson plan, or if you wish to contact the author, please email us at