University of Albany Students "Driven to Make a Difference" with C-ROADS

June 7, 2011 by Stephanie McCauley

Today we have guest post by Professor Eliot Rich at the University of Albany, SUNY, who recently held the World Climate exercise for a group of undergraduate students.

“When I left the simulation, I was driven to make a difference”

In April 2011, students and faculty at the University at Albany, State University of New York, used the C-ROADS model and the World Climate Simulation to gain perspective on the environmental and political challenges facing their generation.  The simulation was part of a semester-long class on business strategy and sustainability offered to undergraduates by Prof. Eliot Rich, Department of Information Technology Management and the University’s Honors College.

As part of their study of sustainable systems, these freshmen and sophomores received instruction in basic dynamic modeling, accumulations, and feedback models.  During the simulation activity they were joined by faculty and students from the University’s Sustainability Council, where they identified the need to combine science, negotiation, and deep listening skills to achieve progress.

Student reactions were positive, insightful, and directed towards inquiry and action:

Participating faculty saw the simulation as an opportunity to grow environmental activism and campus sensitivity to the problem.  Mary Ellen Mallia, the University’s Director of Sustainability, remarked that “students were very energized by the experience and they are talking about integrating this into their student sustainability conference next year, enabling us to reach out to student environmental leaders from schools in the area.   One of my students discussed the conflict he felt.  He was true to the role play but it made him take a position that was contrary to his personal beliefs and what he knew needed to be done to address climate change.  Each group felt that they had given in and made large concessions yet when the impact on the future global temperature was revealed, we all realized that these “large” concessions were not enough.