Written By:

Adam Roux

Published On:

August 20, 2018


Health Policy Bootcamp: CLSG at CIBO 2018

On August 13th, the first day of the Completely Integrated Batten Orientation (CIBO), 72 members of the incoming Batten MPP class of 2020 were given three chances to save the world from a deadly virus.

On August 13th, the first day of the Completely Integrated Batten Orientation (CIBO), 72 members of the incoming Batten MPP class of 2020 were given three chances to save the world from a deadly virus.

Not a real virus, of course, but CLSG’s Pandemic Simulation.

Over three rounds of the simulation, new students—many of whom were meeting for the first time that very morning—were challenged to protect their country’s citizens and economy from the disease.

In the Pandemic Simulation, participants take on the roles of government ministers (Prime Minister, Minister of Health, etc.), and work together as a team, interacting with other “governments” in a high-intensity, fast-paced environment. Participants can see the effects (and consequences) of their policy decisions in real time must develop strategies to preserve global health, enact policies that contain the pandemic, and handle political and economic fallout.

Following the three rounds, students were given about an hour to prepare a policy memo and a presentation.

“Writing my first policy memo was extremely valuable, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to do it in a group setting,” said Ruth Checknoff ’19. “I am sure I’ll have to write many memos in the future.”

Once the memos were written  and the presentations delivered, students gathered for CLSG Director Prof. Noah Myung‘s hour-long debriefing, in which he explained how the simulation experience touched on what students could expect to learn over the course of their time at Batten.

The simulation “made the idea of public policy less abstract and more clearly defined,” said Molly Magoffin, MPP ’2o.

Zach Diamond MPP ’20 called the simulation “fast-paced and interesting…It taught me to build clear decision making structures regardless of the pace or intensity of the activity.”

On this day, we were lucky enough to welcome four expert practitioners as judges. Each judge was assigned a “world” and gave feedback on the students’ policy memos and presentations.

These judges were:

  • Alison Criss, Director of the UVA Global Infectious Diseases Institute and an Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology. Her laboratory investigates how the notorious bacterial pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the cause of gonorrhea, thrives in the presence of neutrophil white blood cells in order to survive in the human body.
  • Denise Bonds, Health Director for the Thomas Jefferson Health District, a position she has held since 2015. She is a board-certified internist with additional training in public health and women’s health.
  • Gray Heppner, a vaccinologist and board-certified infectious disease physician with 29 years of research and development experience, including clinical trial design and execution in the US and overseas. His expertise includes preclinical, first-in-human, and field trials of new drug products in tropical medicine and biodefense.
  • Michael D. Williams, Director of the UVA Center for Health Policy, a joint program of the Batten School, the School of Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Williams joined UVA in 2012 as an Associate Professor of Surgery and Director, Emergency General Surgery in the Department of Surgery.

Thank you to these judges for lending their time and expertise to our simulation and the new Batten MPPs! And a special thanks to CLSG team members Andy, Megan, Abhiraj, and Adam for their work in organizing and executing the event!

CLSG developed Pandemic for the 2018 Batten-NASPAA Student Simulation Competition, and for this event we used a classroom-ready version.