College of Law to Host National Security Crisis Simulation Exercise

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will present a live counterterrorism exercise simulation on Friday, March 19, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and continuing through the evening. The public will have the opportunity to observe the simulation exercise in real time via video broadcast at the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the College of Law. The simulation will also be available for on-line viewing via the College’s dashboard.

Students enrolled in Professor Amos Guiora’s “Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism” class will role-play as high-ranking government officials, intelligence agents, and foreign officials. Invited guests including Salt Lake County Sheriff James M. Winder, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, a Salt Lake City police detective, and a veteran print reporter, will also participate in the simulation exercise. Information is disseminated through live news feeds, webcasts, video/teleconferencing, and other electronic tools. Over an intense several-hour period, students will be confronted with scenarios that include multiple terrorist attacks simultaneously occurring in various locations. Participants will be required to make time-sensitive decisions while integrating the rule of law, gathering and analyzing intelligence information, weighing policy considerations, and pondering operational issues.

The simulation provides students the opportunity to identify, address, and solve complex issues in a real life environment. “This will be a unique learning experience for a law student where theory and practical application meet,” Guiora said. “Furthermore, since the student is the decision maker throughout the simulation exercise, this is an invaluable learning experience in leadership.”

The other component of the simulation is the live streaming on the web for external audiences.  “People can control their individual viewing experience via a web-based dashboard that will provide camera views of all the situation rooms, a link to our simulated news site, and a live chat where our viewers can discuss the scenario with other viewers,” noted Aaron Dewald, Director of the Technology Initiative at the College of Law. The web address for the dashboard is The dashboard will be made available in the days before the simulation starts.

Hiram Chodosh, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, said, “These intense simulations offer students the unique opportunity to build their own leadership capacities, in particular, through making decisions in high-pressure circumstances, with imperfect information and potentially life-altering consequences.”

Guiora believes that law students and the general public alike will learn something from viewing the simulation: “These exercises are an extraordinarily effective pedagogical tool,” he explains. “They provide the student with a ‘hands on’ educational opportunity that combines complex legal and policy dilemmas with real-life operational dilemmas. Furthermore, simulations directly facilitate development of understanding the importance and relevance of teamwork under stressful, time sensitive conditions where determining the relevance and reliability of information is of critical importance. To that end, the effectiveness of each student is measured, in part, both by an ability to forcefully present the legal and policy aspects of his/her assigned role and to articulate the critical distinctions between tactical and strategic considerations with respect to operational counterterrorism.”

The counterterrorism simulation will be held on Friday, March 19, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and running into the evening at the College of Law.  For more information, or to view the event live, visit