When I taught community development and planning courses in the No.1 community department in the world, I became fascinated with the Sim City computer game program. I wanted to use it as a teaching tool. Using the Sim program, students could add, delete and modify variables they chose to affect the mock cities.
The students could determine the results that might potentially impact the various aspects of the city. The program would aid students in the planning process and promote analysis, discussion and creativity. They could analyze the introduction of unanticipated as well as anticipated consequences. This program would allow students to better prepare for real outcomes in our planning and execution of programs in the real world. This simulation process has already resulted in a myriad of other programs addressing other aspects of life i.e. Sim Earth, Sim Farms. Additional issues might be addressed using a Sim model.
Unfortunately, MU chose to dismantle the community development graduate program. Our graduates headed community development programs all over the world, from the U.N. to urban neighborhood programs like the ones President-elect Obama organized in Chicago.
Community development skills and knowledge appear to have been the one needed, but absent, ingredient that the military lacked after invading Iraq. These skills would have trained invasion planners to help in the process of nation building.
A Sim-like process might serve our military and other branches of our government well.
In 2009, there is still a need for Sim-like models to be developed and utilized in other aspects of our lives. Our youth might not all be able to govern directly but they can simulate actions and policies that those who are governing might use. This would increase participation and assist the promised change to occur.
The new administrations at every level could benefit from the Sim-induced creativity of many of our youth. I would urge Sim networks be organized on every issue relevant to 2009 and beyond. Policy recommendations could be prepared whenever they are found to be needed and appreciated. Our youth would be further educated and able to hold our governments accountable. After all, this is their future they would simulate.
"We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. — President Franklin D. Roosevelt.