Mob Rule, Political Intrigue, Assassination: A Role-Playing Game Motivates History Students

Mob Rule, Political Intrigue, and the Occasional Assassination 1

Danny Ghitis for The Chronicle

Andrew Owen, a sociology professor at Cabrini College, plays the role of a revolutionary during a Reacting to the Past game at Barnard College. Mary Conley of the College of the Holy Cross plays King Louis XVI.

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close Mob Rule, Political Intrigue, and the Occasional Assassination 1

Danny Ghitis for The Chronicle

Andrew Owen, a sociology professor at Cabrini College, plays the role of a revolutionary during a Reacting to the Past game at Barnard College. Mary Conley of the College of the Holy Cross plays King Louis XVI.

The goal was simple: stop Charles Darwin from winning the big prize.

Those were my instructions for a role-playing game, called Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal, and the Rise of Naturalism, 1862-64, set during a meeting of the Royal Society in London. I was assigned to play the secretary of a faction of members opposed to awarding the prestigious Copley to Darwin for his book On the Origin of Species.

A package of background readings and a biographical description of