AUC Student Winners Tackle Pandemic Crisis in NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition

AUC's School of Global Affairs and Public Policy recently hosted graduate students from eight universities to participate in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition -- the first time the competition is held in the Middle East and North Africa region, with AUC selected as one of 16 global host sites. Two AUC students are among the regional winning teams: Mahmoud Shoman and Mohamed ElTeriaky.

A total of 563 students from 27 different countries and 159 universities participated across all sites in this year's competition. Out of 117 participating student teams, 20 regional winners were selected.

Apart from AUC, the participating universities included the American University of Beirut, AlQuds University, Birzeit University, Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government, National Law School of India University, North South University and Mohammed V-Rabat University.

Tackling the Pandemic

The topic of focus for the 2018 competition was Pandemic Crisis Management and Global Crisis Management, looking specifically at the spread of the flu. Throughout the day, Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy students worked in teams, representing different countries, and assumed a variety of high-ranking roles, such as prime minister and minister of public health as they navigated difficult policy decisions and their potential outcomes.

During the simulation, students had to consider how they would act in certain roles in response to a pandemic outbreak of a deadly infectious disease. They examined the rules and institutions that govern health policy and practice at different levels to make decisions. Students addressed subjects, such as national mortality rates, economies and legitimacy of governance, but also global stability. 

Real-World Connections

In addition to his studies as a public policy and administration student, ElTeriaky works as a technical officer at Egypt’s Ministry of Health. He notes that the experience gained through the competition is certainly something that could be applied in his work as well. “In my daily work, we deal with different challenges like the one presented at the NASPAA challenge,” he said. “The competition was interesting and challenging, since you get to see the direct impact of your decisions. It was a learning process with four rounds, and each round, you use different techniques.”

Shoman, a dual degree student in public policy and administration and refugee and migration studies, found it interesting to relate his academic studies to the simulation of real-world events in the competition. "It was a good chance for me to apply what I've learned as theory in making decisions and actually facing a dire situation," he explained. "It was interesting putting into practice the concepts you've learned. I benefited the most from seeing what it means when people are dying and your policies are not working. You have to adapt and reformulate your policies to get results. Thinking strategically helped me make use of a disaster to plan for a more a sustainable future."

Working with students of different universities was also beneficial to AUC student participants, as they got to engage with individuals of varying backgrounds. "This was the most interesting thing -- that you get to meet people from different countries in the region," Shoman reflected. "We only met a day before, and we familiarized ourselves and were able to work together as a team.

Teams were evaluated based on their simulation scores, negotiation skills, and written and oral presentations made to regional site judges. A panel of prominent “super judges” later determined a global winner. This is the first time that AUC's Department of Public Policy and Administration was selected as one of 16 global host sites (11 in the United States and five international sites) for the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition, where 10 AUC students from the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy participated.