Tips for Running the World Climate Simulation for Large Groups

February 7, 2017 by Andrew P. Jones

Hackley School World Climate by Drew Jones

What do you do when you have more than 60 participants who want to play World Climate?

I’ve run the game with 150 adults at a USAID conference, 415 high-school students in their gym, and 450 environment and development professionals at a meeting in Sweden. Here are my tips.

  1. **Just do it. **World Climate works well in this setting – certainly much better than a straight lecture on the issues. As you will read below, you must modify the gameplay, but the mechanics are the same – set up the roles, take pledges, run the simulation, create interactions, take new pledges, repeat, and debrief.
  2. Ask for less. Counterintuitively, bigger groups should use less time. You cannot manage enough depth in the negotiations with so many people, so you won’t need as much time. Perhaps 30 minutes to 1 hour. You also won’t need to use the World Climate slide deck. Master the most important things from the slides and highlight them in between the simulation (e.g., carbon emissions, historical responsibility, climate impacts, Paris agreement, etc.)
  3. **Use the three region version. **You won’t be able to capture the subtleties of the six region structure. Keep it simple.
  4. They sit on the floor. Developing B definitely sits on the floor, unless the seating disallows. This is powerful.
  5. No briefing statements. Don’t use paper briefing statements (unless you really want to). Tell them who they are in the introduction.
  6. Abandon the quest for team consensus on pledges. This is the most important modification. Ask delegates to turn to one or two others and talk about, for example, what year emissions should peak. After a few minutes, ask for 3-4 people from one group to call out the year that emerged from the smaller conversations. Restate them and choose a rough average as the group’s pledge. For example, “I hear 2030, 2040, and 2055. I’m going to choose 2042.”
  7. **Modify negotiations. **Ask the teams to send 5-25 delegates to visit the other groups to tell them what they should be doing. Welcome the messiness that ensues for five minutes and then end the negotiation period by asking everyone to return to their original seats.
  8. Take charge. You will need to facilitate the crowd quite aggressively. This will mean interrupting people and calling the group back to attention.
  9. Debrief. Ask people to turn to the person next to them and engage them on topics like how the simulation made them feel, how we can take action, and others that you know of.

Modification for a presentation format with less time and minimal interaction

Several times I’ve turned World Climate into a 15–30 minute presentation for a large (over 100 people) group that includes minimal role-play. I’ve broken up the audience into three groups but present pre-designed scenarios in the simulation. Some notes: