International Politics is all about conflict and cooperation – so this year’s first year students experienced it hands-on.

The river basin game involves five states with different economic, political and social needs, interest and status. They all live around the river Pandal, which they use for different purposes.

In the lecture students developed a strategy for their own state to build a dam in the river so that their water / energy needs are fulfilled. Unsurprisingly, Dalik, the rich and strong country at the top of the river basin, and Ordon, a very poor state right below it, block all the water. The three countries downstream got nothing and the river was cut off – no water reached the sea.

Students then worked on information-gathering and diplomacy to achieve a better solution.

WP_20140924_009History & Politics students managed to get water to all states, some more and some less. But despite their efforts in bilateral negotiations, no water reached the sea.


Would the sea now salinate the river basin, threatening the interest and livelihoods of states at the bottom of the basin?



After some analysis of  individual strategies and joint needs, History & Politics managed to achieve a multilateral solution that served the needs of all, including those of the ecosystem downstream.



By contrast, Politics student chose a different path – almost throwing the Pandal river basin into the throes of a minor war…

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Despite bilateral negotiations with almost all states and a special arrangement with Gandor, a poor country to the south, rich and powerful Dalik at the top decides to completely block the river and take it all!

Ordon and others start to feel betrayed. Another run of the water (marbles!), more water gets through because Dalik changes its mind but now everybody wants some…


What would have happened if we had repeated this several times? Would Ordon have formed an alliance with others against Dalik? Would the river survive? Would everybody but the people of Dalik starve?