Students Simulate Negotiations on Energy Issues in the Greater Paris !
On April 28th, at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, Forccast organized a simulation of negotiations on how to manage energy issues in the Greater Paris. For over 12 hours, 40 students of the school’s Energy Track and of Mines Paristech’s Minor program in Public Affairs and Innovation deliberated on how the Greater Paris should engage its energy transition. Each student represented a different stakeholder, from the Region’s Prefect and President to a small innovative start up specialized in energy efficiency. The day was highlighted by five formal meetings – including a large introductory meeting at the Paris Region Prefecture -, several informal discussions behind closed doors and constant negotiations in the hallways and coffee rooms. Throughout the course of the day, students had to defend their stakeholders’ positions, notably in formal statements made to a simulated press.
Spending a whole day in the shoes of real decision makers, each student faced the challenge of pursuing its organization’s precise interests while attempting to find compromises. The simulation gave the students a very long first glance at the complexity of energy issues as well as at the intricacy of converging or conflicting interests. At the conclusion of the negotiations, students were well aware of several controversial points regarding the energy transition. One such point of contention revolved around the question of how to reconcile the immediate security of energy supply with the accelerated development of renewable energy.
Prior to the simulation, Nicolas Benvegnu, Henri Landes and Johan Margulies, the three organizers in charge of this experiment, elaborated a complex scenario of negotiations and provided each student with a four page confidential position paper. These served as guidelines for the students regarding their specific goals to be reached, red lines to not be crossed, potential allies and adversaries to take into account, and noteworthy behavioral and personality traits to be embodied. Finally, to complete the students’ learning experience, they had the opportunity to exchange views with a panel of five real professionals at the conclusion of the simulation, each professional having been represented by a participant.
Simulations of negotiations are a powerful pedagogical tool for students and professionals of all levels. Enabling participants to speak publicly and to present their positions among their peers, while also being observed by professors and researchers, enhances their commitment to comprehending the issues and different stakeholder positions. The Greater Paris Energy simulation was also an example of how simulations can be tailor-made to tackle a scientific or technical controversy in an innovative and interactive format.