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FIRESTONE IN LIBERIA

US Investment in Liberia, 1926-1932: "Mr. Firestone, What Are You Up To?"

by Suzanne K. McCoskey and Andrew A. Beachy


This page is still under construction as we add details about the game and authors...

Forced Labor Scandal in Liberia

The year is 1932 and the ambitious investment by the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in the West African country of Liberia is at a crossroads. Recent reports of slave labor in Liberia have come to the attention of the League of Nations and US State Department and, while the original allegations are not specific to the Company’s rubber operations outside of Monrovia, the international attention given to these reports could have a grave impact on the future of the Company.  The League of Nations has investigated the labor issues in Liberia and has called witnesses to London to provide their testimony: should the future of this troubled country include a role for the US company or is it time for Firestone to leave Liberia?

ABOUT THE GAME

Details

Disciplines
World History; African American and Black Studies; International Relations; Economics; Business Ethics


Era 

20th Century; Contemporary Era


Geography 
Western Africa

Themes
Economic Development in Africa; Corporate Social Responsibility; Pan-Africanism; Racism and Colonialism


Player Interactions 

Factional, Competitive


Level
Level 3 game (what's that mean?)


Notable Roles

Harvey Firestone Jr, Marcus Garvey,    Winston Churchill



Mechanics 
Rolling Dice, Secret Voting, Formal Podium Rule, Tracking Influence Points

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
Low-Moderate chaos. Straightforward events create low demand from instructor. Additional mechanics can be added to increase complexity.


Primary Source Highlights 
Report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia (the Christy Report) and others

Using the Game

Class Time  
For this game, 1 to 2 setup sessions and 5 to 7 game sessions are recommended.


Possible Reacting Game Pairings

This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Firestone in Liberia may pair well with:


Assignments
You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing and some roles write journalistic pieces. Majority of roles are required to give formal speeches.


Class Size and Scalability
 
This game is recommended for classes with 14-30 students. More journalist roles can be added without much additional preparation.


GAME MATERIALS

Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Guide, and Handouts) are available to any instructor through the publisher. 

Gamebook

Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content.

VERSION 3.0

Role Sheets

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 



Instructor's Manual


The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.  

Additional Resources 

Liberia: America’s Stepchild, 2002. (A PBS film posted in six parts on YouTube. Unfortunately, it is no longer available through PBS.)

Part 1 

Part 2 (until 7:20)

PBS-Frontline documentary “Firestone and the Warlord”                                                     An excellent resource that can be used in the game wrap-up which will show students how the collisions in this game helped plant the seeds of devastating civil conflict in Liberia in the 1980s and 1990s.



ABOUT THE AUTHORS 

Suzanne K. McCoskey

Suzanne K. McCoskey is an Associate Professor of Economics at Frostburg State University. She received her BA from Oberlin College and an MS in Applied Statistics and PhD in Economics from Syracuse University. In 2021, she completed an MSLaw— with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Law—from the University of Baltimore. Suzanne organizes her academic work around issues of mapping social and political structures onto economic systems and asking whether these structures allow or impede meaningful economic development and growth.


Andrew A. Beachy

Andrew A. Beachy is an alumnus of Frostburg State University, graduating with his BS in Philosophy, a Journalism minor, and departmental honors in 2018. During and after his studies, he has worked in writing, editing, management, and communications. He enjoys studying and fostering the skills necessary to engage in critical and productive cross-cultural exchanges. Andrew also studies German and hopes to study abroad for his Master’s degree and possibly beyond. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, reading, biking.

QUESTIONS

Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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reacting@barnard.edu

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