LBJ MPAff student Jordan Cooley named a regional winner of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy have announced the winners of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. Jordan Cooley, representing the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, belonged to the second-place team at the University of Michigan and Cornell University on Feb. 27, 2021.

"We are proud of Jordan's work in this year's simulation, which focused on controlling a pandemic and gave students an incredible opportunity to construct solutions while the COVID crisis drives policy in real-time," said LBJ School Interim Dean David Springer. "This challenge could not be more relevant, and we congratulate Jordan and her team."

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This year, over 400 students from 120 universities in 30 countries took part in the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. Participants competed virtually at one of the four virtual competitions hosted on Feb. 27 and March 6, 2021. The competition—a partnership between the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and NASPAA—annually connects public policy students from a vast network of universities worldwide through simulated gameplay. Developed by experts at the Batten School's Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming (CLSG) and backed by real-world data, the simulation places students in leadership roles within a time-sensitive, fast-paced environment where they must work together to minimize the impact of a deadly infectious disease.

"Simulation-based learning is incredibly valuable, as it applies theory to practice, and goes beyond conventional modes of learning," said NASPAA Simulation Education Director Supriya Golas.

"Through these simulations, students can take what they've learned in the classrooms and apply it to simulated real-world experiences. We hope these tools will prepare students for the next major global event, whether it's a pandemic or climate crisis."

One hundred participating teams were evaluated on simulation scores, teamwork, organization, policy decision making, and policy presentations. The winning team from each site will move on to the global "All Star" round in which a panel of prominent judges will identify the global winner.

"We've extensively updated our simulation to reflect the public health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19," said CLSG Acting Manager Adam Roux. "It's a great opportunity for aspiring policymakers to test their leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills against a scenario like the one we are all living through. Experiential learning tools such as the Pandemic Game can help bridge classroom learning and real-world experience, training future leaders to better navigate challenging situations."

In the coming months, the CLSG will develop a classroom version of the simulation which will be available free of charge for the next three years. NASPAA will distribute the free classroom version to its 300 member schools.


About the LBJ School of Public Affairs
The LBJ School, ranked No. 8 in the nation among graduate public affairs schools, makes a difference, not only within the walls of academia, but also in the public and social dialogue of the world. Contributing viable solutions to society is the LBJ School's legacy and its benchmark. Its effectiveness in channeling the purpose and passion of students into professional careers is evident in the success of more than 4,500 graduates who are the living legacy of President Johnson's bold and fearless action. The University of Texas at Austin is home to the LBJ School. For more, visit

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration or NASPAA is the global standard in public service education. It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public & nonprofit management. Its over 300 members - located across the U.S. and in 24 countries around the globe - award MPA, MPP, MPAff, and similar degrees. NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master’s degree programs in these fields.

About the CLSG
The University of Virginia's Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy prepares students for public life by allowing them to test real-world solutions in a virtual environment. The CLSG designs, develops, and implements cutting edge simulations and experiments to advance education in leadership and public policy; conducts rigorous leadership and public policy research using simulations and experiments; and creates a community of scholarship where faculty, researchers and students are supported in their scholarly efforts related to the methodology of simulations and experiments.