CONGRESSIONAL AIDS HEARINGS
After A Long Battle: Congressional Response to the AIDS Epidemic, 1982-1985
by Bella Pori
What is the political response to a biological threat?
This game asks players to put themselves in the shoes of someone living at the height of the AIDS epidemic in America when next to nothing was known about the virus. Players consider what civil society can do when the government and those entrusted to protect us, fail to act. What are mechanisms that minorities have to move the public’s opinion in their favor and pressure decision makers to do something to help? At the same time, what power does the government have against a biological problem? How can a government legislate against a virus? How does the government decide on policy when time is of the essence and not all the information is known? What are the consequences of using policy to fight a disease? Is it even the government’s place to address this epidemic? Finally, what responsibilities do elected officials have to their constituents versus their ethical responsibilities to the world and country at large? By taking the roles of congressional representatives, government epidemiologists, doctors, researchers, gay activists, preachers, journalists, and average citizens, students can begin to find answers to these questions and more, and understand the radical changes society underwent when a new disease caught the country unprepared.
Using the Game
You can adjust the assignments to fit the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing and journalism. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches.
Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.
All students need a Gamebook, which includes resources and historical content. Members can download the Gamebook, and provide it to students for free or at cost.
The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.
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