A game where players interact to solve a complex issue facing the world today…

Since 2017, CIR has designed and organized an annual policy simulation for high school students across New Mexico. Each simulation explores complex and critical global issues, with students as stakeholders actively deliberating towards consensus. The first annual policy simulation was hosted at one school, Santa Fe Prep, and involved over 70 students. In 2018, CIR’s second simulation was expanded to include Santa Fe High School as well as Santa Fe Prep, involving over 100 students. In 2019, CIR expanded to three schools, Capital High School, Mandela International Magnet School, and Santa Fe Prep, engaging 175 students. 

In 2020, NextGenSim will be hosted at multiple schools across Northern New Mexico and Albuquerque, including: Los Alamos High School, Sandia High School, Santa Fe Prep, Capital High School, Freedom High School, and the United World College. Students who attend different schools are invited to participate in one of the simulations. Visiting students who attended one of the simulations hosted in early 2020 included: Moriarty High School, ASK Academy (Rio Rancho), Menaul School, La Cueva High School, East Mountain High School, Santa Fe High School, Desert Academy, Mandela International Magnet School, and Los Alamos Middle School. 

Learn more about NextGenSim 2020

Learn more about NextGenSim 2019

Learn more about NextGenSim 2018

Learn more about NextGenSim 2017

Overview of NextGenSim

NextGenSim is a policy simulation designed for high school students and lasts four hours. During the first 45 minutes, a qualified speaker (in NextGenSim 2020, a nuclear engineer or nonproliferation expert from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, UNM, and other speakers from CIR’s diverse network) will provide a presentation designed to equip high school students with background in the simulation’s content area. The presentation also discusses the logistics of the simulation, including how the final outcome will be determined. This format eliminates the need for students and teachers to provide pre-simulation readings or homework; instead, students who do not have a background in the simulation’s content area are able to participate without previous readings.

After the introduction presentation, students break into smaller groups and work through the scenario, playing a character assigned to them via character card. Discussion rounds during NextGenSim account for 2.5 hours of the simulation. After students determine the final outcome for the simulation, there is a 30-minute period reserved for small group discussions, focusing on how the fictional simulation scenario can be applied to contemporary events and students have the opportunity to discuss how their character cards shaped the outcome of the simulation.

Character Cards

NextGenSim is a unique policy simulation because students receive individual character cards they are expected to play throughout the scenario. Depending on the host school, students are either randomly assigned a character or they can sign up for particular roles in advance. Character cards in NextGenSim 2020 include members of an executive branch (president, prime minister, and ministers), international ambassadors, legislatures, governors, corporations, journalists, and civil society activists.

Students receive their character card profiles during Round 1. It is important students put themselves into their character’s shoes and discuss the scenario. In Round 2, students receive a corresponding “Insider Info” card that is unique to their character. With this new information, students must re-discuss the scenario and note how their Insider Info changed their perceptions and decisions.

Example Character Card from NextGenSim 2019

Character card from NextGenSim 2019

Want to host NextGenSim 2020?

It is still possible to schedule NextGenSim 2020 at your high school in late spring 2020 or early fall 2020. If you are interested in hosting NextGenSim 2020 (or sending a delegation of students to participate) please send an email inquiry to Tacarra at At this time, NextGenSim is designed for high school students, although it may be possible for advanced 8th graders to participate at one of the hosting schools.