The Basic Concept

In most classes students learn by receiving ideas and information from instructors and texts, or they discuss such materials in seminars.  “Reacting to the Past” courses employ a different pedagogy.  Students learn by taking on roles, informed by classic texts, in elaborate games set in the past; they learn skills—speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and teamwork—in order to prevail in difficult and complicated situations.  That is because Reacting roles, unlike those in a play, do not have a fixed script and outcome. While students will be obliged to adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches or other public presentations; and students must also pursue a course of action they think will help them win the game. 

Course Materials

Every RTTP game consists of the following components:

  • A student game book, which outlines the historical context, game premise, central debates, and rules;
  • An instructor's manual with role descriptions; and
  • Companion texts / primary source readings (may also be included as appendices to the student game book).

There are currently ten games published in the "Reacting to the Past" Series and many more in development by teams of scholars. Please click on the links below to view descriptions of all the available titles: