UT professor teaches World War I in real time

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UT government associate professor Scott Wolford teaches a class over World War I as a tribute to its 100 year anniversary. Wolford uses concepts such as game theory to help students view history from multiple perspectives.

Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

Paying tribute to the centennial anniversary of World War I, government associate professor Scott Wolford is teaching a class this semester that encompasses the events of the war in real time. 

“It was a nice coincidence since it was the 100-year anniversary,” Wolford said. “There was a lot of attention on the war, but it’s also a really good chance to turn peoples’ understanding of the war upside down.”

The class, called “World War I in Real Time,” spends each day learning about the events that occurred exactly one century ago.

“Each day is 100 years ago, and I don’t think there’s another class like that. I think it’s really interesting,” said Jake Eastman, international relations and global studies junior. 

According to the Department of Government, this semester is the first time the class has been taught at the University. The ultimate goal Wolford has for the class is to dive deeper into political theories and how they explain international relations, using World War I as a case study. 

Wolford said he hopes the class will help students understand that people’s choices alter world history. Students were first introduced to tools and concepts such as game theory, in order to piece together contributing players’ actions. Players range from countries and generals, to soldiers and laborers. 

According to Wolford, the class pushes students to view the war from multiple perspectives and see politics through one major world event.  

“Broadly, I think that we can learn a lot from the war,” Wolford said. “Specific instances of general trends can be awfully illuminating when we place them in theoretical context.”

Eastman said he enjoys studying the military details of the war’s major events.

“It keeps me engaged in class and keeps me wanting to come back,” Eastman said. “I’m really interested in learning more about the military since I’m wanting to go into the Navy after school, and having a better understanding of other wars is definitely helpful.”

Although he may not offer the course again in the real-time format, Wolford said he might develop another class with a similar model.

“It’s a lot of prep work since it’s built from the ground up, so I could do this same thing again, but it wouldn’t have the real-time flavor to it,” Wolford said. “I have thought about the fall of 2017 that would track the American decision to get involved, so I might [continue it in the years to come].”