The Climate and Society Game – A social simulation exercise for learning about climate change and social unrest – 22.4.2017

22 April 2017 9:00 to 16:00 – Free Lunch Provided
Prof. Stefan Schmutz, Dr. Andreas Melcher, Dr. Jan Sendzimir, Dr. Piotr Magnuszewski
Location: BOKU Centre for Development Research CDR,  1190 Vienna,  Borkowskigasse 5

Our world is rapidly changing - unprecedented changes in Nature (climate, declining ecosystems and biodiversity) and Society (population growth, unstable economies and the lack of ability, for so many people, to meaningfully affect those who govern them lead to increasing inequalities, conflicts, and immigration). All these processes are highly interconnected, which makes it very hard to understand the root causes of our problems. Is there a way to improve our understanding (minds) and to nurture openness and empathy (hearts) necessary to explore the way forward?

One exciting way to deepen understanding and open minds and hearts are simulation games. They allow participants to understand the complex realities of real world situations and to test different strategies and courses of action. Immediate feedback speeds learning, improves skills and decision-making far faster than from passive education (lecture) or even active debate (persuasion). Direct experience followed by reflection can provoke real changes in attitudes and the emergence of new perspectives. Games and simulations provide this direct experience since the participants face the consequences of their decisions without undertaking real risk.

The setting for the Climate and Society game is three different nations with different economies and levels of development: Rich, Not rich but successfully developing, Developing but struggling. These nations are divided by borders that are increasingly defended as people feel the tension of change threatening them resulting from the changing climate. The Climate and Society game offers participants opportunities to experience and react to these challenges by assuming one of a variety of roles currently active in our society in sustaining our economy and in managing the impacts on the environment. Feeling the tensions and responsibilities involved in a role new to you, which are heightened by interacting with others, offers many chances to learn about how the path we take as a society reflects so many diverse perspectives.
The energetic enthusiasm generated in playing such games often makes it hard to stop them. It charges our on-going discussion with each other with heartfelt insights that will hopefully lead to action.