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Counter-Terrorism Simulation 2012

March 30, 2012 @ 8:30 am - 5:00 pm


Sim video snapshot

Read more
about the College of Law’s long history of active simulation exercises.

New for the 2012 Simulation

The University of Utah College of Law’s annual Counter-terrorism Simulation as been a success since it’s inception in 2007. We’ve come a long way since then:

  • This year marks the Simulation’s five year anniversary at the College of Law.
  • Over one hundred students have taken Prof. Amos Guiora’s Global Perspectives on Counter terrorism and participated in the Simulation.
  • With each Simulation running approximately eight hours, over 40 hours of Simulation time has been run.
  • Since the addition of shadow players in 2009, we’ve had over forty external participants contributing to the Simulation. These have included government officials, local police enforcement, and past Simulation participants.
  • Our online dashboard has hosted thousands of viewers across the globe. Nearly every continent has seen our Simulation exercises.

Over the years, the Counter-terrorism Simulation has become a cornerstone event for the College of Law. The buzz about the Simulation has been growing and faculty, students, and alumni alike look forward to it every year.

As we strive to provide the best Simulation experience for students, we debrief about the experiences leading up to and surrounding the Simulation after the completion of the Simulation. During the debriefing, we identify a list of goals in which we can improve the Simulation for the next year. Our list for the 2012 simulation included:

  • More quantifiable outcomes The Simulation is a highly qualitative event. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to objectively quantify student outcomes during the event. We’d like to facilitate an environment in which the students can be quantifiably rated on their performances.
  • More practice with relevant skills Because the only exposure to the Simulation environment occurs during the main simulation at the end of the semester, there isn’t time allocated to the students to identify and practice the skills necessary to facilitate a successful Simulation. We want to give the students more time to progress the skills directly relevant to the Simulation.
  • More feedback on skill development Students learn best with appropriate feedback. By providing formative structure for feedback, students can further develop their skills in areas they are deficient. This will provide the students an opportunity to continue to work on their skills as relevant to the Simulation, and carry these skills with them into the work place.
  • Overall assessment on performance By providing the students with an aggregation of the quantifiable scores along with the constructive qualitative feedback, students will essentially have a formative assessment report that provides insight into their strengths and weaknesses and take the necessary steps to work on their performance in the main Simulation.

As we reflected on these goals, we’ve implemented some exciting changes and additions to the Simulation for 2012:

  • Breakdown of skills We’ve identified four skill areas necessary for successful performance in the Simulation. The four primary skill areas are: decision making, teamwork, information gathering and analysis, and advocacy and articulation.
  • Mini-simulations For each of the identified four skill areas, we’ve created four mini-simulations that target development of these skills. Each mini-simulation is one hour in length and is developed in parallel with the coursework. This will allow the students the ability to work on these specific skills prior to the main Simulation – in a Simulation context.
  • Feedback on skills Performance rubrics have been created for each identified skill. With the rubric, we can provide two different types of useful feedback for the students as they work through the mini-simulation. First, we can provide them with quantifiable information (a score) on their performance as it relates to the rubric. Second, qualitative feedback is provided for each criteria of the rubric. An iPad application was developed to give our raters an easy to use tool to collect this feedback information.
  • Assessment reports After each mini-simulation, the student is given a printed report that aggregates the quantitative and qualitative feedback provided by the raters of that mini-simulation. This clearly outlines the student’s performance and allows the student to identify and improve on weaknesses.
  • Changes to main simulation In order to focus on the quality of the learning experience, we’ve made some changes to the main simulation. We are separating the students into three groups. Each group participates in a four hour main Simulation. This will level the importance of each role within the simulation and provides a better opportunity for the students to be rated on their performance. Each of the three groups run through the same simulation scenario, so in addition to within student comparisons, the raters can also provide between-group comparisons of performance.

Each year we look to improve the simulation from an educational, realism, and implementation standpoint. We’re excited at the steps we’ve taken for this year’s simulation and we would like to extend an invitation to you to participate. Visit the Simulation website at simulation.law.utah.edu to watch the simulation live on March 30th, 2012 beginning at 8:30 AM MDT. In addition to watching the performance of the students, you will also have an opportunity to provide important feedback to the students using our improved dashboard. We look forward to your attendance and participation.

More information to follow

About the Global Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism Course

This course will take an in-depth look at counterterrorism in the United States, Israel, Spain, Russia and India. The course will examine the competing conceptions and definitions of terrorism at the national and international level and the institutions and processes designed to execute the “Global War on Terrorism.” This course will include the study of the balance between national security interests and civil liberties found in the following topical areas: relevant Supreme Court decisions in the surveyed nations, legislative provisions in response to acts of terrorism, operational counter-terrorism considerations (including targeted killing), intelligence gathering (including interrogations), policy recommendations, the use of military tribunals or civil courts in trying suspected terrorists, the emerging law regarding enemy combatants and their detention, and the arguable need for new self-defense doctrines at the global level. In addition to the regularly scheduled class time (Thursdays, 3:15-5:15), the class includes a full day scenario based counterterrorism simulation exercise in which students role play decision makers (US and international) addressing legal, policy, intelligence (gathering and analysis) and operational counterterrorism dilemmas using multiple media resources.


March 30, 2012
8:30 am - 5:00 pm


S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States


College of Law