Lincoln University of Missouri Students Participate in a Simulation at the White House Decision Center
Office of Communications and Marketing
820 Chestnut Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
During fall semester 2023, Dr. Brian Norris’ Foreign Policy class and Dr. Elizabeth Dorssom’s American Executive & Congress class traveled to the White House Decision Center to participate in a simulation. The White House Decision Center is a nationally recognized history lab where visitors step into the roles of President Truman and his advisors, work with formerly classified primary source documents and collaborate to discuss some of American history’s greatest challenges.
Lincoln students engaged in a simulation regarding “Reacting to the Soviet Blockade of Berlin,” where they portrayed President Truman and his White House Cabinet as they made a decision regarding the Soviet Blockade of Berlin. Students used primary sources to inform their decisions. The trip was funded by the LU Honors College and Truman Library.
Students divided up into different rooms and read facsimilies of historical documents, such as declassified intelligence reports, relevant to the role they were playing in the simulation. Not everyone had the same information.
Hear from two students — Emily Botts and Nia Walker — on their experiences while participating in the simulation.
I enjoyed the class trip I took to the Truman Library on October 18 with my American Executive & Congress class. We were able to participate in the White House Decision Center Simulation and tour the museum. The Decision Center was set up as if we were actual members of the executive branch carrying out decisions that President Truman had to make during his presidency. We were assigned roles of real people in President Truman’s cabinet. In the simulation that my class participated in, I got the honor of acting as President Truman as we decided how to approach the Berlin Blockade of 1948.
During the simulation, each person was given a stack of documents for the person they were roleplaying, which included declassified documents the person had written or been given during the Berlin Blockade. Then we had 45 minutes to read the documents before we had a cabinet meeting to discuss our plan. Since everyone had different information, the experience was very collaborative. Acting as the president, I felt that I had a sense of duty to my people, even if it was fake. The simulation puts you in the shoes of world leaders making big decisions. I also learned more about the Berlin Blockade through the experience. Our class had just written a paper about it, but living the experience helped it sink in.
The trip to President Harry Truman’s White House Decision Center was an insightful experience because it allowed me to learn how to make real-time decisions and tackle the same issues the Truman Administration faced during the Berlin Blockade of 1948. The simulation allowed us to look over classified documents to make foreign decisions and respond to Stalin’s Berlin Blockade. The main objective I learned from the experience is that you must be able to make sound and risky decisions with the information that is given to you. I would encourage people to visit the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library to gain more knowledge about his presidency and his foreign policy.
In addition to participating in a role-playing educational simulation of the Berlin blockade of 1948, Lincoln University of Missouri political science students toured the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri.