Sriram Trikutam, a banker at a leading Bank, led this session where students discussed economic concepts around trade and then learned and played the board game Settlers of Catan which helped to reinforce some of these concepts.
Sriram started off the session by asking students to exchange their thoughts on concepts like trade, money, supply and demand, manufacturing. After a quick intro video for understanding the game, he then got the students to start playing a mini round of Catan. Most students were playing this game for the first time and as they made choices in the beginning game and on the ongoing game, they began to realize what mistakes they had made or what trade-offs were involved. During the debrief after this mini-game, students talked about their observations and strategies that had worked for them and tactics that they would change next time.
Students then watched a video on Free Trade vs Protectionism and a video on US China trade wars, post which there was quite a heated discussion on the value of trade and what could be the benefits and issues with free trade. It was interesting to see how students were able to make connections with the choices in their everyday lives. Since trading and managing resources is such an integral part of Catan, students also started thinking about what trading and resource strategies they would like to experiment with / adopt in the next game.
We then played a full game of Catan and there was such a difference in the way students were making choices and the way they were negotiating with other players. There were definitely distinct choices being made in terms of strategies…some that worked and some that did not. What was really important is that students were now being thoughtful about their strategies and were thinking through what they needed and what others needed as they negotiated with others. Sriram ended the session talking about the role of economics is different professions.
This session was an introduction for all students to the complex topic of economics, and especially trade. With so much discussion and conflict in the real world about trade and tariffs, this session helped students to be more curious and begin appreciating and understanding some of what is being discussed about trade.