Carly Demille, a scholar in the Garfield Center for Public Leadership, recaps her experiences on the group’s recent crisis simulation led by James Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science. The Garfield Center for Public Leadership at Hiram College prepares students to assume the responsibilities of public leadership by developing expertise in matters of public policy, foreign and domestic, grounded in Hiram’s traditional liberal arts education. 

This was my first crisis simulation with the Garfield program, and I wasn’t sure what to expect going in: if it would be fun, if it would be stressful, and how much would be expected of me. We communicated with our mentors in the months leading up to the weekend, but I didn’t meet my mentor, Alex Wurzel, until Saturday. But all my worries and anxieties were put to rest: each mentor was friendly, knowledgeable, and did a fantastic job of both incorporating our ideas while ultimately letting us lead, and pushing back on our ideas so we could refine them and make them our best.  

Saturday was jam-packed with getting to know our mentors and making moves between the teams. Every time we all made a move and presented our choices, the responses that the mentors came up with felt realistic and reactionary to what each team chose. All the scholars were enthusiastic to win and learn how to become better negotiators. I was a part of the U.S. Cyber Command team, which worked closely with the European Command team, particularly as the game became more tense. Eventually, the U.S. and European teams started attempting to negotiate with the Russian and China teams, which all contributed to the realism of the simulation and the excitement of trying to make a deal.  

One of the main aspects of this crisis simulation weekend was a question given to all the teams, students, and mentors: What is the redline? What counts as an act of war if the attack is done via a cyber-attack? Is it enough for an enemy to be in another country’s system, or does an attack have to take place? Does violence have to occur? What about unintended consequences? These were all questions that I and the other scholars wrestled with during the weekend, and one that I’m still thinking of. The implications, questions, and lessons I’ve learned during this weekend are ones that are going to stick with me for years, and I want to thank the Garfield Center for Public Leadership for giving me this opportunity.