What is Reacting to the Past?

The Reacting to the Past series consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by important texts. After a few introductory sessions, class meetings are run entirely by students; instructors offer the students advice and grade their oral and written work. The debate structure of Reacting to the Past games encourages students to identify with points of view they might otherwise find irrelevant, boring, or simply wrong; they are motivated to engage with the ideas, and to master the arguments that undergird their positions, to support their team. Pioneered by Barnard College in the late 1990s, Reacting to the Past is supported by a consortium of 40 colleges and universities.

What are the Science Games?

With support from the National Science Foundation, our group is developing six chapter-length Reacting to the Past games to be used in traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses for both majors and non-majors. These games require one to three class periods of game play. In most cases, the course already covers the background material needed for the game and the Reacting to the Past component provides a deeper immersion in the topic and controversies related to the topic.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0920441. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.