If you work in education, whether that be biology or social sciences, you may have been thinking about how to get your students to engage with the topic of climate change. General knowledge on climate change is everywhere, whether it is news about the floods in Palestine,  the heat waves in Europe, or the droughts in California. Almost everyone knows about these events, but it is difficult to bring them up without sounding the alarm; to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation into the curriculum in a way that encourages students to talk and act, and not to feel powerless.

The Minions of Disruptions climate board game by Day of Adaptation was designed to be relatable for many kinds of audiences, including ones that do not work professionally with climate change or study the subject matter. Playing the game on a facilitated Game Day raises critical conversations about climate change and its effects on different fields of study in a way that students can easily understand and engage with. At the same time it helps discover locally relevant ways to act and adapt. This is important as research suggests that both individual and collective action can help deal with climate anxiety and other difficult emotions linked to climate change [1] [2].

Previously Day of Adaptation has collaborated with several educational institutions to help them incorporate better discussions on climate change in their curriculum. The following three examples from our Game Day activities in 2021 can help you think about how a game-based approach could fit your educational needs.

 

1. The Game Day helps students reflect on how climate change will impact their field of study in the future

Climate change will have an impact on most, if not all, industries in the future. Therefore, students can benefit from reflecting critically on climate change adaptation in their field. 

Let’s take an example of the Frugal Innovation Master’s programme from Leiden university in The Netherlands. Frugal innovation is a type of engineering which aims to reduce complexity, and thereby costs, of a good and its production in order to make it accessible in low-income country contexts. The course coordinators of this Master study reached out to Day of Adaptation to see how Minions of Disruptions could embed the topics of sustainability and climate to this subject matter. Consequently, the game experience was adapted to reflect processes and organisations relevant in the field of engineering and frugal innovations.

List of student ideas to adapt to a changing climate

Ideas the students from the Frugal Innovation program at Leiden University shared about how they could adapt to a hotter, dryer and wetter climate. Students mentioned issue areas relevant to their future field of expertise: management, strategic planning, engineering solutions etc.

What’s more, the Game Day was incorporated at the very start of the semester to help both with team-building of the student group, and with ensuring that climate change and sustainability would feature in later discussions in the study. The Game Day facilitators encouraged the students to reflect on not only how climate change will influence their field of study, but also how they could address these concerns in their future careers. As an added bonus, the discussion also naturally turned to the role of the university and faculty, and their responsibility in mitigating and adapting to the changing climate – a discussion that educational institutions would certainly benefit from.

 

2. The Game Day raises an opportunity to brainstorm about how to improve best practices on the field

Even in fields that have clear linkages to climate change, it can be beneficial to raise critical discussions on how information about climate disruptions can be used to improve current and future practices. The Master study in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation at Lund University, Sweden, prepares its students for work in the humanitarian field. The students learn to consider climate change as a threat multiplier, which will challenge the way emergency responses and capacity development programmes can be carried out. 

The programme coordinators reached out to Day of Adaptation to organise a Game Day where the first and second year students could come together and get to know each other better through a fun activity. At the same time, a component was added to the Day where the students sat down together with their teachers and had critical discussions around current practices on the field, focusing especially on common ways of engaging with target groups. After being inspired by the experience of a game with an educational purpose, the students were asked to reflect about the challenges and opportunities of more innovative and interactive methods of communication, such as game-based approaches, that they could utilise as future professionals. Conversations inspired by the Game Day, such as this, can help students critically examine their approach to their work as future professionals.

Excited students teambuilding while playing a climate game.

The Game Day raises conversations about climate change impacts on the field, as well as contributes to teambuilding among students.

 

3. The Game Day can enhance educational planning and communication between teachers

In addition to students, teachers can also benefit from getting together to discuss their approaches to climate change in their lectures. This was done by a group of educators at the Richmond Vale Academy in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean. The academy has worked for a decade at building local capacity to adapt to the changing climate through ecological farming. A teacher reached out to Day of Adaptation as they wished to get external support to re-align their team’s objectives and make more ambitious future plans.

Day of Adaptation facilitated a hybrid event for the teachers of the Academy, where some of the participants were in St Vincent while others joined from the United States and Denmark to share knowledge on their challenges and success stories on climate adaptation. The event was used to build momentum for the teachers to remind themselves of the urgency of timely action, and to help them think about how they can incorporate more dialogue on climate change when teaching their students. 

Answers from teachers on whether they feel more likely to take climate action.

The teachers from the Richmond Vale Academy were asked if they were more likely to take climate action after their Game Day experience.

Can you see your students or educational team benefitting from these conversations on climate change? Get in touch with us to discuss your specific needs for an interactive group activity that brings climate change into your classroom – either online or offline (in the Netherlands). Fill in this form or email us at info@dayad.org

 

Authors: Minja Sillanpää & Minttu Hänninen

About the authors: 

Minja has a MSc in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation from Lund University. She believes fostering justice, participation and creativity are gateways to meaningful climate engagement, and is fascinated by the incredible harmony of ecosystems as well as human adaptiveness. 

Minttu has a MSc in Sustainable Development from Utrecht University, with a specialization in environmental governance. She is excited about sustainability communications, and dreams of a spacious rooftop terrace where she can grow herbs and colorful flowers.

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