Simulated Election

Simulated Election, GOVT112

Description & Process

As an experiential learning project in Comparative Politics, students work cooperatively to organize political parties, for which they draft platforms, design logos, produce campaign ads, and prepare for a public debate. This project has long been a successful part of Associate Professor of Government Sharon Rivera’s, but 2016 introduced a new element — interactive collaboration with Russian students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). The Russian students served as the press corps for the simulation, providing written and verbal feedback to the Hamilton students using the video platform Panopto.

Educational technologist Ben Salzman brainstormed with Professor Rivera to find the best solution for this international collaboration. The time difference between the two schools made a live collaboration difficult; responses would need to be recorded. Inspired by video blogs (vlogs), they settled on Panopto as a way to easily record videos to share privately.

Student groups chose fictional parties to represent in the simulation, with members of each group in different roles. Lynn Mayo worked with the groups’ policy team to research and draft party platforms. These platforms were used to inspire logos, in consultation with Digital Media Tutors skilled in the vector art program Adobe Illustrator. The groups recorded a press release on their policies and logos, which the MIGMO press corps critiqued, sending back videos with questions for the party leaders and recommendations on policy and feedback on the logos. Finally, the Hamilton students created campaign videos, which the MIGMO students reviewed, roleplaying characters like political analysts and Wall Street executives reacting to the ads.

The culminating debate between the party leaders was filmed and broadcast to MIGMO. The MIGMO students voted on a winner using an online Qualtrics survey, announcing the winner in a mock talk show. Finally, Hamilton students sent a thank you video to MIGMO.

Learning Goals & Objectives

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic theories and concepts used in the study of comparative politics, giving students tools to discuss how various types of political systems operate and compare and contrast the way politics work in democracies and authoritarian systems. As part of accomplishing this, students completing this experiential project will:

  • Replicate political campaign processes, based on a fictional political system
  • Creat a campaigning party, in small groups of students
    • Research and write policy platforms
    • Design logos based on party message
    • Produce campaign ads
    • Defend policies in a public debate
  • Collaborate virtually with students from Moscow State Institute of International Relations


GOVT 112, Spring 2016

To complete this collaborative website project, there was:

  • 1 Workshop
  • 1 Working Session