Role Play

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United or Divided States? U.S.-Mexico Border Simulation

This two-day simulation focuses on the negotiation of controversial and complex issues related to the 2,000-mile border that separates and joins the United States and Mexico as neighbors.

Wolf Politics

Through this simulation students will experience the policymaking and implementation process firsthand. “Wolf Politics” is intended for use in a public policy- or environmental policy-oriented course. This experience will reinforce the concepts students have learned in their courses, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge to a real policy issue. The process of preparing testimony for a U.S. Senate subcommittee also gives students a glimpse of how a Senate hearing may operate.

Contracting for Housing and Community Development in the City of New Prospect

This case highlights the complex choices faced by municipal governments when deciding to outsource local government services. This case is appropriate for teaching in the subject areas of local government management, local public service delivery, contracting and privatization, and decision-making. Although this case can be taught in any geographic area, the content may be less applicable for rural municipalities. The case can be conducted as an in-class exercise and involves role-playing.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball: The Road to the Real Salt Lake Stadium Deal

The Major League Soccer announced plans to bring a team to Salt Lake City, Utah, and originally the organization announced plans to build a soccer stadium in downtown. The plan was to have the stadium be a joint venture between RSL and Salt Lake City and would be partially funded with public monies.

Goodbye to Happy Hour

Goodbye to Happy Hour is a case that was initially written for an MBA class and has been further developed for use in classes or seminars for professional development in the area of management skills. It is a scenario grounded in reality, with rich character development and an interesting work setting. The case examines the challenges faced by Jane as a newly appointed manager in the public sector. It covers the difficulties she encounters while trying to motivate a technical team during a period of long work hours caused by unfilled vacancies.

Leadership and Diversity

The teaching notes presented here are from an outstanding casebook on Leadership and Diversity written by Dean Barbara J. Nelson, UCLA School of Public Affairs. In these teaching notes the author shares her experiences teaching the case, provides questions to stimulate class discussion, recommends further readings and provides character descriptions for in class role play. The Case Book itself is open to the public on the UCLA website at and includes the following cases:

Flu Vaccine Case Study

The development and distribution of influenza vaccinations is a perennial topic in the US. This case centers on the 2004-05 flu vaccine shortage following the contamination of more than 48 million vaccine doses and remains salient as the threats to the flu vaccine market emerge each fall in American policy and media coverage. The Flu Vaccine Case focuses on public values and challenges students to think about policy issues that blend market failure and the need to protect the public interest.

When it is Better to be Seen But Not Heard: The Ecology of Public Administration

This teaching case presents a problem of how complex public organizations respond to changes in the organizational environment. One of the complex features of a public university is that there are many "voices" with power to speak on emerging public issues that affect the university in different ways. The case presents decisions about when the university president should speak to an issue with complex implications for the institution. There is a movement in the college town to force the city council to adopt a living wage standard for public projects.

The Clinton Administration and Multilateral Peace Operations

The Clinton Administration and Multilateral Peace Operations (A & B) opens a window on the complex process of major national security and defense policy formation, both as it proceeds through bureaucratic steps within the executive branch and as it responds to congressional and public opposition to U.S. involvement in Somalia.

Negotiated Rulemaking Exercise: Woodstove New Source Performance Standard

Woodstove Source Performance Standards is an environmental role-play in which a multi-party committee employs a negotiated rulemaking process to achieve consensus regarding woodstove emissions. If the committee can agree on a proposed set of restrictions, the Environmental Protection Agency will use it as the basis for a final rule.

This exercise, is an excellent vehicle for illustrating: