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Learning Sustainable Develop

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Learning Sustainable Development Presenter: Joseli Macedo 1 LASA2000—Miami ABSTRACT Gaming and simulation have been widely applied for educational and training purposes, however, the research conducted in the field has produced no definitive conclusion concerning scientific methods to measure their effectiveness. Even though this lack of depth has not precluded the use of gaming and simulation, it has discredited the field to a certain extent. Nonetheless, believing that gaming and simulation were an effective way to introduce discipline-related concepts to a wider audience, the authors set out to create a game that would reduce an abstract concept to its basic components and present it within a frame, with the intent to capitalize on the benefits of gaming and simulation. The result of this creative effort is a card game called Learning Sustainable Development (LSD). This game is intended to create awareness to and explore attitudes towards environmental conservation and urban development. The concept of sustainable development has been chosen as the focus of the game, not only because it is one of the basic precepts of the authors’ milieu, but also because it presents a challenge in that it prompts players to re-evaluate and potentially change their attitudes and behavior concerning routine practices. LSD has gone through extensive testing, revisions, and changes. Through this experience the authors have concluded that, indeed, gaming simulations can be used to develop awareness to a novel concept among a range of audiences. KEYWORDS: education/training; environmental design; frame game; simulation/gaming; sustainable development; urban planning.2 LASA2000—Miami INTRODUCTION Gaming and simulation have been used as educational and training strategies for a long time. The first instructional games originated in China and India, more than 5,000 years ago.1 Warriors in tribal societies used simulations as initiation tests, soldiers at the turn of this century have played games in preparation for wars, most candidates for jobs nowadays are exposed to “practical tests” where the specific professional function is performed in a simulated environment. The integration of war gaming, computer science, and operations research, supported by new educational theories that emphasized active rather than passive learning methods, gave rise to the modern era of gaming and simulation in the late 1950s. Experiencing and reflecting on experiences were recognized as important parts of the learning process.2 Today, gaming and simulation are a commonly employed teaching method throughout the world.3 Even with all the credibility that is afforded to simulation and gaming, it is sometimes regarded as frivolous, not challenging enough, a waste of time. This perception can only be changed through the systematic use of these strategies so that people will come to understand them. Simulations are well established in the educational field as a tool for learning. Gaming and simulation fit in with “educational philosophies which stress the importance of the learner as an active participant in the educational process.”4 Games have a goal to be achieved, a set of rules, a spirit of competition or cooperation, visible results that depend on chance or strategy or both; simulations are an abstraction or simplification or process derived from reality.5 Playing games and running simulations are ways to approach problem solving through experiential learning. Educators have stated the value of gaming in the learning environment, arguing that games restore “enjoyment, healthy competition, cooperation and discipline to teaching and learning.”6 A distinguishing feature of simulations is the opportunity they afford to participants to face the consequences of their decisions, unlike mere observers. Simulations have been defined as case studies where the participants are on the inside.7 Gaming simulation can also be an effective research tool for the Social Sciences. It has been used for investigating complex issues where communication and/or people’s attitudes play a 1 Wilson, A. (1968). The bomb and the computer: Wargaming from ancient Chinese mapboard to atomic computer. New York: Delacorte is cited by Wolfe, Joseph; Crookall, David in Developing a scientific knowledge of simulation/gaming. Simulation & Gaming, Mar98, Vol. 29 Issue 1 for giving the Chinese board game WEI-HAI and the Hindu game of CHATURANGA as examples of the ancient roots of games. 2 Wolfe (ibid.) cites some authors who have written about gaming and simulation in the modern era: Cohen, Dill, Kuehn, & Winters, 1964; Graham & Gray, 1969; and Kolb, 1984. 3 Wolfe’s review of the literature includes: Assa, 1982; Burgess, 1991; Crookall & Arai, 1995; Faria, 1987; McKenna, 1991; Rohn, 1986; and Wolfe, 1993. 4 Jones, Ken. Simulations as examinations. Simulation & Gaming, Sept. 1998, Vol. 29, Issue 3. 5 Charles Petranek and Sandy Fowler. Using Simulations to Explore the Multi-Cultural Point of View. 1998 NASAGA Pre-Conference Workshop. 6 Schwartzman, Roy. Gaming serves as a model for improving learning. Education, Fall 1997, Vol. 118, Issue 1. 7 Jones, Ken. Reading for action. Simulation & Gaming, Sept. 1998, Vol. 29, Issue 3.3 LASA2000—Miami major role. It is similar to Participatory Action Research8 in that key informants, in this case the players, become active participants in the inquiry process and thus allow for narrowing the gap between theorists and practitioners. Learning Sustainable Development This paper is about using gaming and simulation in the form of a frame game to educate and train people about a complex concept. To exemplify this strategy, a card game—Learning Sustainable Development (LSD)—was created. This game is used for exploring attitudes towards environmental conservation and behavioral change. The concept of sustainable development was chosen because the acceptance of this recent trend requires a new mindset and, since gaming and simulation lessen resistance to novelty and stimulate further interest through group discussion, we thought it would be an appropriate choice. Learning Sustainable Development (LSD) is a game based on the premise that sustainable development, that is, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,”9 is achievable by following simple practices already at hand.


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