Office of University Communications & Marketing

War and Famine: UNA Students Work Through Global Challenges at Geopolitics Symposium
Apr. 16, 2010



FLORENCE, Ala. – Famine, terrorism, environmental degradation, climate change and failed states are all global challenges that a class of undergraduate students will work through as part of a fictional simulation conducted at UNA’s 2010 Geopolitics Symposium. The event will be held next Thursday and Friday in the UNA Performance Center.

“The symposium has the purpose of educating the students about these global issues and global challenges, but also to train them in communication skills and professional presentation at a different level than they’re getting in class,” said Dr. Michael Pretes, associate professor of geography.

The symposium is the capstone project for a special-topics class, Geopolitics of Global Challenges, team-taught by Pretes and Lt. Col. Wayne Bergeron, chair of the UNA Department of Military Science. The class is cross-listed between the UNA departments of geography and political science.

The simulation revolves around a fictitious country known as Utopia. Students are presented various scenarios dealing with a global challenge. The students then have to work through these scenarios with faculty and professional mentors before making their briefing to the president of Utopia, played by UNA president Dr. William G. Cale Jr.

“Students can’t just be consumers in this class,” Bergeron said. “They’ve got to participate. They’ve got to work at it to do well.”

The simulation will continually change as participants receive new information.

“There are certain things they just don’t know, like in life,” Bergeron said. “We purposely designed the scenarios that way, and that’s where the senior facilitators and mentors come in – they help frame the discussions and see it from an executive level.”

Facilitators and mentors will include practicing and retired professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including military, intelligence, business and education.