15th May 2015 – ROLE PLAY 2015!

A few photos and highlights of the fictional role-play I organised for students – been planning this since December! It aimed at bringing the processes and ethical dilemmas examined in my book to life for students through my teaching…

The day began with an excellent talk from Col. Angus Taverner who organised embedding during the Iraq War and wrote the MOD UK doctrine for handling the media in Iraq – the students came up with some very challenging questions for him!

As the role-play commenced, The Conservative ‘Government of the United Spindom’ started off relatively democratic but, as the pressure of handling a crisis built, they resorted to a programme of mass surveillance, harrassment of universities, black propaganda, censorship and even blamed the Americans for the death of a journalist captured by ISIS, causing a rift in international relations! They discovered how difficult it was to handle security threats through the ‘fog of war’ and under media and public pressure and found their more aggressive propaganda efforts sometimes backfired. While some of the press went all out to expose wrong-doing, ‘The Times’, when approached by an NSA whistleblower with evidence that the Saudi Arabian royal family were funding ISIS, chose to self-censor as they were worried about News International’s 2nd biggest shareholder being Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed. Luckily though, (and perhaps where the role-play most departs from reality!), the public started marching on the streets of London and were wise enough to eject the government during the election at the end…! All in all we had a great time, learned a lot, debated the challenges and implications for public debate… and students have a lot to reflect on now in their ‘propaganda blog’!

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