Three Department of Public Policy graduate students participated in the 2017 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation on Food Security. MPA students Fabia Firoze and Harrison Fregeau and MPP student Yizhu attended competitions at George Mason and Columbia University. This year NASPAA partnered with the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy to host a student simulation in eight sites across the globe offering attendees the opportunity to participate in the competition with fellow public administration/public policy students from around the world.
Nearly 400 graduate students in public policy and management from around the world traveled to eight university locations (Maastricht, New York City, Washington D.C. area, Indianapolis, Bogotá, Phoenix, Seattle, and Beijing) to compete in a one-day immersive computer simulation that challenged them to advance global food security. Students from different schools were mixed onto teams of 16-20, where they bonded as members of staff of a fictional global non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to reduce global hunger in five world regions. They analyzed data, made policy proposals, reacted the computer simulation results, drafted memos with recommendations, and presented their strategy recommendations to teams of local site judges.
The simulation focused on Food Security and the worldwide effort to address UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, by 2030). Site judges selected winners from among the teams competing. The top winner at each of the eight sites then advanced to four distinguished “super judges” for an electronic review of videos and written material produced on the day of the competition. Super judges included Steve Cohen (Executive Director, Earth Institute), Josette Sheeran (former Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme), Anand Desai (Section Head of Evaluation and Assessment, National Science Foundation), and Mahfuz Ahmed (Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank). Fabia’s team at George Mason University were regional winners.
“I believe this experience gave me a holistic approach in addressing food security issues around the world. I was also saddened to learn that regions such as West Africa suffer the most from lack of food security. If they do not receive help from other countries, it will be impossible to alleviate poverty in those regions. As students pursuing a career in public service we should think more about addressing food security issues,” said Fabia.
While participating in the simulations, the DPP students learned the importance of negotiation and conflict resolution skills in reaching consensus on policy implementation; community-based approaches in each region of the world are essential in addressing food security issues and new technological innovations to raise food production are necessary to improve overall food security worldwide.
Fabia, Harrison and Yizhu plan to apply what they have learned from this experience to real life food security challenges. Both Fabia and Yizhu are looking forward to attending the event again next year.