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Karen Pinto and John Ysursa

Two buddies playing role playing games
Karen Pinto, left, with John Ysursa at the conference.

With support from the Center for Teaching and Learning, Karen Pinto and John Ysursa participated in Barnard College’s “Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) workshop held at the University of Georgia Hotel and Conference Center in Athens, Georgia, Jan. 12-13. Ysursa and Pinto join others at Boise State who also have participated in the workshop and have incorporated RTTP activities in their courses: Matt Recla, Lisa McClain and Elizabeth Cook.

According to the Barnard College site, “RTTP consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills.”

Ysursa participated in the “Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791” game while Pinto joined “The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C.E.”  The pair also were invited to sample other games, which Pinto found to be “an eye-opening learning experience that stimulated thought about ways in which to incorporate RTTP techniques into history classes at Boise State.”

Pinto and Ysursa had the opportunity to meet with the Barnard historian who first developed RTTP as well as the game designer.

There, they were able to discuss the possibilities for additional games in Basque, medieval and Islamic Studies. The RTTP administrators are keen to develop new games and welcomed Ysursa and Pinto’s suggestions. In addition, Pinto and Ysursa discussed the possibilities of using RTTP to enhance Boise State’s University Foundation courses as a way to engage students through role-immersion games.

Ysursa and Pinto greatly appreciated this opportunity to learn first-hand about RTTP’s innovative approach to learning and engaging students and look forward to testing out what they learned in their classrooms and sharing their insights with peers.