The Garfield Center for Public Leadership recently ran its annual crisis simulation during which Hiram’s Garfield Public Leadership Scholars were confronted with North Korea’s proliferating nuclear program. They approached the issue as the United States, China, South Korea, and the United Nations would.
In preparation for the event, the Center welcomed alumnus John Lauder ’68, career CIA officer and authority on arms control, to campus to give his thoughts on the current state of North Korea its resulting tensions. Lauder succinctly described the underlying issues each major player had to consider and reminded students that, despite the jokes in pop culture, conflicts with a nuclear North Korea is a serious matter.
Under the mentorship of generals, appointed officials, and other notable career members of the U.S. armed forces, the scholars worked together to find a peaceful solution agreeable to all parties. Matters were complicated as the simulation grew to include a radiation threat toward China and a North Korean regime change. During negotiations, scholars tackled ideas about North Korea’s right to nuclear arms versus the responsibility of powerful nations to maintain regional stability. They explored diplomatic and economical avenues of solving problems to avoid high-risk military options and weighed the pros and cons of reunifying Korea. By the end of the weekend-long event, the scholars successfully reached peaceful agreements among the largest players and averted war.
Each crisis simulation includes real-time updates that scholars must respond to, adding to the intensity of the event and often raising the stakes of the decisions. With each move, groups must work closer and think deeper to reach a peaceful conclusion that addresses the many different aspects of the problem.
Senior member Emily Hruska notes the impact this had on her learning, explaining “I was able to really learn about the complexities of the issue because of the small-group dynamic and focus of the mentors. I never could have found the same level of understanding from the Internet.”