In some of my "Mission Possible: Global Issues, Leadership Choices" classes students have to wrangle with decisions about public goods. (Public goods are things that, once provided, benefit everyone, if they contributed to the provision of the good or not -- like clean air or national defense.) Students quickly come to see that (1) not everyone benefits equally from a public good -- the good is often more important to some people (or "countries," in the case of our "Mission Possible" simulation) than others and (2) the burdens of providing a public good are not shared equally -- some people (or "countries") often pay more to ensure the provision of the public good than others. Students negotiate, sometimes fiercely, over if a public good will be provided and who will pay how much to provide it. How individuals and "countries" conduct themselves during these negotiations often impact political alignments and soft power influence throughout the rest of the class. This insight, learned by high school students, is particularly relevant at the moment, with NATO talks last week and a decision expected later this week about if the U.S., the world's second biggest greenhouse-gas emitter (behind China), will begin the process of leaving the Paris climate agreement.
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