April 16, 2018

NASPAA and the Batten School Announce Global Winners of the 2018 Student Simulation Competition

Today, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy announced the winners of the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition—the largest-ever student simulation competition in higher education. A team of five students competing at the San José State University College of Social Sciences took First Place, each receiving $1,500 USD from the Batten School’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming (CLSG). The winning team includes:

  • Brian Cauley, San Francisco State University
  • Mariana Duenas, Golden Gate University
  • Jessie Escobar, University of San Francisco
  • Jessika Hall, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Victoria Padilla, California State University, Chico

“This is the only global simulation in public policy education I know of that brings grad students together from all different countries to address a common policy problem and learn from each other,” said NASPAA Executive Director Laurel McFarland. “Our hope is they will graduate and go out into the real with a heightened understanding of global health insecurity and a desire to contribute to its eradication wherever they might end up working.”

This year’s competition connected more than 500 students from 159 universities and 27 countries through computer-based simulated game play at 15 global host sites. The simulation, developed by experts at the CLSG and backed by extensive real-world data, placed competing students in leadership roles within a fast-paced environment where they worked together to minimize the impact of a deadly infectious disease. Students worked in teams representing four fictitious countries and assumed a variety of high-ranking roles, from Prime Minster to Minister of Public Health, as they navigated difficult policy decisions and their potential outcomes.

“My goal in designing this computer simulation and the overall educational outcome for the competition was simple: to make it immersive so that each student can benefit from experiential learning prior to going out into the real world,” said CLSG Director Noah Myung. “Students had to make complicated analytical decisions with limited information, were required to write multiple policy memos, and finally make a decision briefing to world-class experts. It was a policy boot camp for our students!”

Nearly 130 participating teams were evaluated on simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations made to regional site judges, who selected 22 regional winners. A panel of prominent “super judges” determined the global winners. In addition to the first-place team, they selected a tie for Second Place between five students competing at the Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs and three students competing at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, and a Third-Place award for the four students competing at Cornell University Institute of Public Affairs. The second-place winner will receive $500 USD from NASPAA and the CLSG, and NASPAA will provide third-place winners with $150 USD. A full list of winning teams, including the Special Category Winners, is available on the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition website.

In the coming months, the CLSG will devise a classroom version of the simulation and make it available free of charge for the next three years. NASPAA will distribute the free classroom version to its 300 member schools.


About NASPAA: The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration or NASPAA is the global standard in public service education. It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public & nonprofit management. Its over 300 members - located across the U.S. and in 24 countries around the globe - award MPA, MPP, MPAff, and similar degrees. NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master’s degree programs in these fields.

About the CLSG: The University of Virginia’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy prepares students for public life by allowing them to test real-world solutions in a virtual environment. The CLSG designs, develops and implements cutting edge simulations and experiments to advance education in leadership and public policy; conducts rigorous leadership and public policy research using simulations and experiments; and creates a community of scholarship where faculty, researchers and students are supported in their scholarly efforts related to the methodology of simulations and experiments.

In This Article

Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Director of the Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett L054