Reacting to the Past: Athens and Revolution in France

In “Athens, Greece, 403 BCE” students, as Athenians, reestablish the polis after war and tyranny, debating amnesty, citizenry, education and foreign policy. In “France, 1791” students, as members of the parliament, formulate a constitution that redistributes power differently from the ancien regime, determining the direction of the revolution in progress.

Through role-playing, students investigate large questions of historical causation. The class is constructed as a set of games that unfold unpredictably. Students run all game sessions; instructors advise factions and grade oral and written work. At the end of each game portion, in a series of post-mortem explorations, instructors set forth what did happen historically and compare “real” history to what happened in the classroom version.