Participatory Games: Experiential learning to bridge disciplines

Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:30 AM
Erin Coughlan1,2, Pablo Suarez1, Janot Mendler de Suarez1 and Carina Bachofen1, (1)Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre, The Hague, Netherlands, (2)International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, United States
While the benefits of multi-disciplinary education have been extolled, there is more to success than producing students who are able to articulate the theorems of all pertinent disciplines. Here, we will describe case studies in which participatory scenario exercises and games can make the difference between memorizing information from an “outside” discipline, and actually internalizing the priorities and complications of the issue from an alien perspective. Case studies include teaching Red Cross community-based volunteers the Probability Distribution Function of seasonal rainfall forecasts, as well as requiring students of Columbia University’s Master’s Program in Climate and Society to study both natural and social aspects of climate. Games create a model system of the world, in which players assume a role and make decisions with consequences, facing complex feedback loops. Taking such roles catalyzes “AHA” moments that effectively bring home the intricacies of disciplinary paradigms outside of one’s own.