Students representing the United States, surrounded by snacks to illustrate the country’s wealth and abundance, discuss the actions they are willing to take to reduce the country’s carbon emissions during Climate Interactive’s World Climate Exercise.
Students representing the United States, surrounded by snacks to illustrate the country’s wealth and abundance, discuss the actions they are willing to take to reduce the country’s carbon emissions during Climate Interactive’s World Climate Exercise.

On Saturday, December 5th, in conjunction with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, forty-four K-12 teachers and high school students conducted Climate Interactive’s World Climate Exercise, a mock-UN Climate Change Negotiation where participants role-play international climate negotiators working to create solutions that limit global climate change. This simulation game was launched in August 2015 as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Climate Education and Literacy Initiative. Steve Kaagan, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University, leadership and organizational development expert and experienced facilitator of the exercise was invited to facilitate both the teacher and student sessions. Dr. Kaagan has been facilitating these simulations in collaboration with Climate Interactive for several years and was delighted to be able to conduct the simulation in conjunction with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference as it modeled the negotiations happening in Paris.

Twenty-six educators received training in how to facilitate the simulation with their students, with all facilitator resources freely available online from Climate Interactive. This session was made possible with funds from a private donor who is dedicated to supporting ERP’s climate science professional development initiatives for teachers. Teachers responded favorably to the session with many reporting that they planned to conduct the simulation with their students. Two science teachers from East Chapel Hill High School attended this session and reported that over 220 Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES) students conducted the simulation the following week. Another teacher that conducted the simulation with students after attending the session remarked, “It helped them understand some of the many complexities of international environmental policy”.

Eighteen high school students enrolled in IE’s Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Climate LEAP) or the Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia (IDEA) Program participated in an afternoon session geared towards students. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund supports Climate LEAP, a science enrichment program, and sponsored this session. During a kinesthetic debrief, students reported that they had a better understanding of the negotiations taking place during the Paris climate talks and of the significant work that will need to happen globally to reduce emissions. One student observed, “The World Climate Exercise was really insightful because I got a better perspective on the political and economic issues surrounding climate change. For example, I represented India and they have different needs than a country like the US and are less willing to make changes because their priority is reducing poverty, not saving the environment”. Likewise, several students mentioned they were motivated to take this simulation back to their schools and conduct it with their classmates.

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