Students in Prof. Allan Thompson’s Journalism and Conflict class took part in a unique war game exercise at Camp Borden Oct. 27-29 with the Canadian Forces and soldiers from a number of other nations. The students were incorporated into the military exercise, playing the role of reporters on the ground with soldiers deployed to an imaginary United Nations peace support mission. In this case, the mission was in the country of “Goloka,” where Canada’s primary contribution was specialists from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams to a mission called Ardent Defender.
The journalism students – a combination of 4th-year undergraduates and MJ students – arrived Friday afternoon and after being escorted to the tents assigned to them on base for the weekend, were immediately plunged into a series of military briefings with the force commander, a civilian political advisor and other specialists – all within the Goloka scenario. Students filed social media posts to an internal Slack site set up for the exercise (to avoid confusing people in the real world with posts to Twitter and Facebook.) The students also had to file a main story before midnight about the day’s events in Goloka.
On Saturday, students scattered out across the base, for the most part with EOD teams sent out to disarm Improvised Explosive Devices. But some students also witnessed a mock suicide bombing that took the life of a member of the Golokan armed forces and left another gravely injured. Students attended two more wrap-up briefings and filed another news story before midnight.
It proved to be a great weekend of experiential learning. And it just couldn’t have happened without the full cooperation of the Department of National Defence, in particular Public Affairs officer Karla Gimby. Thanks as well to Dean Andre Plourde of the Faculty of Public Affairs and Alan Steele, Director of the Discovery Centre at Carleton, for supporting this field trip. Stay tuned for details of a presentation by students at the Discovery Centre later this term about the experience.
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