Role-play simulations for climate change adaptation education and engagement

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In order to effectively adapt to climate change, public officials and other stakeholders need to rapidly enhance their understanding of local risks and their ability to collaboratively and adaptively respond to them. We argue that science-based role-play simulation exercises — a type of 'serious game' involving face-to-face mock decision-making — have considerable potential as education and engagement tools for enhancing readiness to adapt. Prior research suggests role-play simulations and other serious games can foster public learning and encourage collective action in public policy-making contexts. However, the effectiveness of such exercises in the context of climate change adaptation education and engagement has heretofore been underexplored. We share results from two research projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of role-play simulations in cultivating climate change adaptation literacy, enhancing collaborative capacity and facilitating social learning. Based on our findings, we suggest such exercises should be more widely embraced as part of adaptation professionals' education and engagement toolkits.

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The New England Climate Adaptation Project was supported with funding from the University of New Hampshire and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Cooperative Agreement no. NA09NOS4190153 (CFDA no. 11.419). The IUP received support from the Dutch Knowledge for Climate Program, funded through TNO; the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School; and the Tufts-MIT Water Diplomacy Program. The authors also wish to acknowledge all of the NECAP research team members, partners, and workshop participants who made the project possible, as well as Ellen Czaika for her help in statistically analysing NECAP data. They also wish to thank the incredible local partners and participants in the three case cities in the IUP, and in particular project partners at TNO.

Author information

D.R. conceptualized the research questions and analysed data for NECAP. T.S. conceptualized the research questions and analysed data for Institutionalizing Uncertainty. L.S. provided mentoring and oversight for both projects. D.R. and T.S. contributed equally to the preparation of this manuscript, with input from L.S.

Correspondence to Danya Rumore.

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Rumore, D., Schenk, T. & Susskind, L. Role-play simulations for climate change adaptation education and engagement. Nature Clim Change 6, 745–750 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate3084

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