We invite you to join us at UGA for this year's Reacting to the Past Regional conference, featuring “America’s Founding: The Constitutional Convention” and “Climate Change in Copenhagen, 2009.” Please refer to UGA's Reacting webpage for more information, or click here to register.
"America’s Founding: The Constitutional Convention” is a game about what surely is the most important legal event in American history—the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Students gather as members of state delegations sent to Philadelphia to amend the Articles of Confederation or to replace it with something better. Familiar elements, such as the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and the Great Compromise, structure the first half of the game. Here the principal theoretical divide is between large-republic advocates, called nationalists, and small-republic advocates, called confederalists. In order to give prominence to these competing visions of republican government, the game deviates from the historical original in one significant respect: it incorporates, in concert with the Convention’s examination of the New Jersey Plan, arguments articulated in the state ratification debates and in Federalist and Antifederalist writings. In the second half of the game, the Convention responds to reports written by committees attempting to resolve delayed matters and to put the constitution in its finished form. How to elect the president, what to do about slavery, and whether to include a bill of rights are just a few of the issues that come up at this time. The game ends in a vote to accept or reject the constitution. The constitution drafted by students need not replicate the one produced in Philadelphia; however, freedom of action is constrained by the fact many of the same structural problems and historical contingencies are in place. Thus students will find improving upon the Electoral College, for example, to be not that easy.
Moderators: J. Patrick Coby (Smith College) and Jace Weaver (UGA)
“Climate Change in Copenhagen, 2009” is a new chapter-length game that covers the scientific background on the Greenhouse Effect and the potential for climate change. Students must consider the evidence for potential climate change and address the political challenges of crafting an international agreement. The debate pits the countries that will suffer most from climate change against those who are causing the damage but will suffer much less. It challenges the leaders in environmental protection to find ways to bring the worst offenders into the treaty or the Conference will fail. The setting for this game is the Copenhagen Climate Conference held in December 2009. This Conference was the culmination of many smaller working group meetings. Two previous Conferences of this scale, Rio and Kyoto, have had mixed results. Rio failed to produce an agreement. Kyoto led to a treaty that was adopted by a sufficient number of nations to go into force, but which ends in 2012. Copenhagen is the world’s last chance to find an agreement before Kyoto expires. The game includes many heads of state, including President Obama. But no agreement is possible unless the US, China, and India can come to agreement. The challenges facing the Conference are formidable. Success is far from certain. Behind the scenes negotiations will be as important as what happens in the conference hall.
Moderator: Chase Hagood (UGA)