In the spring semester, 2018, our 38 students divided into six groups. Each group presented a “simulated intervention,” in which Inner Peace techniques were applied to an Outer Peace situation of their choice. Each simulation included a game, activity, or exercise, for the participating students to do.
Group One built an interactive game that distinguished between legitimate language about mental illnesses vs. the taboo words and stigmatization often used to describe or denigrate either people who suffer from those illnesses, or who show superficial behaviors exhibiting qualities of these illnesses.
Group Two ran a facilitated dialogue regarding issues of inclusion and exclusion based upon racial and ethnic stereotyping. Participants were guided through a museum gallery of internet-available memes of ethnic stereotypes. The images were used as talking points for discussion. Individuals shared stories about how they were victimized by stereotyping and the attitudes that that stereotyping engendered in themselves.
Group Three analyzed the domination by technology in the area of social interaction and networking, by focussing on the question of how texting differed from face to face communication in developing an ethics and clarity of communication between two people–people perhaps meeting for the first time.
Group Four dealt with gun control and gun culture. Presenters guided participants through a gallery of images and videos regarding guns, from ironic political cartoons to impassioned interviews with high school students about the threat of gun violence and the virtual inaction of national political leaders on the subject.
Group Five created a life-size board game around the issue of college hook-up culture and the threat and incidence of sexual assault. The form of the teaching was like a “choose-your-own-adventure” story line laid out on the floor. Participants formed couples who had, presumably, just met on a dating app and were deciding–mutually—how to spend their evening together. At each step of the way, they could decide upon their next activity, and once they had decided, they could flip the piece of paper (which they had chosen) on the floor and read what the outcome of their decision would be.
A deeper look:
Group Six: A mediation/negotiation exercise. The issue was that college basketball players at Division One institutions felt exploited by the NCAA–the student athletes brought in so much money in the form of gate receipts and sales of their named T-shirts and swag, that they felt that they should receive at least a portion of the profit. They committed 45+ hours of practice and game time each week, to which they needed to add study and class time, and part time jobs, since most of them were from low-income families and needed to supplement their sports scholarships. The NCAA Admin people were constrained by law and custom (and, greed?) from offering compensation to the athletes.
On one side of the group, the athletes role-played with biographies that had been written for them. On the other side, the NCAA (who also represented college administrators) parried the athletes’ moves toward some form of pay for their work and their brand. The students who led the activity guided the two sides toward a negotiation without mediation, though they (the leaders) were ready with suggested outcomes, and also ready to point out when negatively charged words were employed in the face-to-face discussions. They also had what they thought might be a win-win proposal to offer in case a mediation was called for.
Instead, the two sides actually negotiated an outcome of their own which enabled both sides to feel like they had won. The NCAA did not openly compensate the athletes, but they offered resources to help the athletes create and market their own branded materials, thus giving them a chance both to earn money and to learn business skills. The two sides shook hands on this outcome, and the mediators (the students who had prepared this simulation) felt that the solution that the participant stakeholders had come up with was a better solution. The organizers of this simulation therefore kept silent, felt proud, and congratulated the participants on their positive attitude and good work.