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Sussex students battle top strategic minds in global comp
Sussex students have outmaneuvered top international universities and world-renowned think tanks to finish ninth in a global political strategy contest.
The eight International Relations Masters students competed against 30 other teams in the Wikistrat International Grand Strategy Competition, which ended on 3 July.
Their final position ranked them higher than institutions with specific expertise in the field of strategic analysis including Yale University, the UK Defense Forum and NATO's Atlantic Treaty Association.
Over the course of four weeks the team, who played the challenging role of pariah state North Korea, used the Wikistrat online environment to talk and negotiate with some of the brightest young strategists in the world and conduct live geopolitical simulations.
Judges were particularly impressed with the Sussex team's "magnificent" strategies relating to the China-USA relationship, placing them first for this aspect of the competition. Judges praised their "solid marshalling of facts, sophisticated analysis, and differentiated strategies cleverly explored".
Head judge, former Pentagon strategist Dr Thomas P. M. Barnett, said: "One of the pleasant surprises of the first week grading process was how creative the North Korean teams were on certain issues, primarily because they kept things very simple regarding acceptable regime survival."
They also finished second for 'effective use of the wiki' (the teams linked ideas and worked together using a wiki, which is a collaborative website allowing content to be added and edited by multiple users).
Elad Schaffer, one of the organisers of the competition said: "The Sussex team was extraordinary in its collaborative approach, getting all the members to work together well and meet deadlines.
"They quickly mastered the wiki, and were thus able to produce high level of analysis, and learn to conduct real strategic planning for one of the tougher international actors (North Korea)."
Team member Charlie Wykes enjoyed the experience. He said: "North Korea is a Cold War legacy in the 21st century, and it was stimulating imagining the future of this isolated country in a globalising world."
Dr Fabio Petito, Lecturer in International Relations at Sussex, was "very impressed" with how competitive the team was. He said: "The 31 teams playing the game were from the best organisations worldwide for this kind of strategic analysis and it was simply great to see our team doing so well."
Sussex team leader Heloise Crowther tasted individual success as she picked up the Most Active Participant Award.
The other Sussex team members were Sarah Barter, Robert Blaszcsack, Gabor Bolgar, Evren Eken, Hannah Ledger and Christoph Unrast. All members are studying towards an MA in Geopolitics and Grand Strategy; MA in Conflict, Security and Development; or MA in International Security.
For more information on the competition, go to the Wikistrat website.