Peacemaking, 1919: The Peace Conference at Versailles

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Set in Paris, 1919, Peacemaking places students in the complicated and politically fraught peace conference that is the bring an end to the Great War.  Students represent nations – both new and old, large and small powers, European and non-European – as they seek to come to bring about peace not only for the present, but also the future. 

Students will grapple with complex ideas about: peace, the League of Nations, and tensions about international cooperation and national sovereignty; just war, self-aggrandizing war,  and acceptable conduct of war; national self-interest versus the greater good; collective security or the balance of power; self-determination, nationalism, democracy and imperialism; moral responsibility versus legal culpability in war; disarmament; the rights and treatment of minority populations; the rising fears about Bolshevism. 

The men sitting at the negotiating table bring with them a dizzying array of interests, challenges, and histories.  Finding enough common ground to craft a successful treaty would challenge the best of diplomats.  For this game, students work primarily in topical subcommittees charged with recommending course of action to the Council of Five.  This council comprised of the leaders of the Great Powers determine the final draft of the peace treaty, choosing to accept, amend or reject the recommendations of their subordinates and/or insert their own conditions.  The result will be a treaty by many hands, many visions, and many competing interests.  The immediate question will be whether the treaty will be acceptable to the individual nations, particularly Germany.  The long terms question will be whether or not the treaty brings about the peace its creators hoped for. 

About the Authors:

Rebecca Livingstone is an Associate Professor of History at Simpson College, Indianola, IA.  She is broadly trained in British and European history with a research focus on gender  and crime in seventeenth-century English popular print media.  As part of her teaching, she has developed a broad interest in social memory and how societies construct their idea and understanding of the past, particularly for public consumption in museums, monuments and memorials.  She has taught several courses on European remembrance of the First and Second World Wars.  Currently, she is lead author on Peacemaking, 1919: The Paris Peace Conference, a Reacting to the Past game in development.  She has served on the Board of the RTTP Game Development Conference for the last six years.

Kelly McFall teaches at Newman University, where he is Associate Professor of History, Chair of the Division of Humanities and Director of the Honors Program.  He is broadly interested in the history of conflict and human rights.  He is the author of The Needs of Others:  Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, a newly-published game in the Reacting to the Past Series.  He also hosts a podcast titled "New Books in Genocide Studies" as well as contributing to a similar podcast called "New Books in Sports."