Summary

The experience is centred around an immersive simulation that enables participants the opportunity to explore the complexities of collective action problems and practice mobilizing others to work together and take positive action. The CO2 Simulation involves 20-40 nations who have signed the General Agreement on Climate Change (GACC) promising to reduce their annual carbon emissions by certain pledged amounts. Each participant plays the role of a country ambassador and needs to negotiate with other ambassadors to decide how many units of reduction their country will pledge. The challenge requires ambassadors to balance what is best for the planet and their own country. In the debrief, participants reflect on the choices they made in the simulation and recognize the connection between micro-actions and macro-outcomes. The perceived tensions between short-term, self-interest and long-term, collective interest in the simulation are explored to demonstrate the contagious nature of defection and the need to mobilize others to take actions that help achieve the common good. Participants identify other collective action problems people encounter on both a local and global level and examine how mobilizing others to change their micro-actions can result in a positive macro-outcome for all. Participants use their experience to identify the attitudes and skills needed to be an inclusive leader and recognize that winning the support of 51% is not enough when trying to create social progress.

Outcomes

  • Participants realize the importance of understanding what is motivating someone’s behavior to help them see the impact of their actions.
  • Participants will not allow the fact that other people are free-riding stop them from making a positive contribution to the long-term collective interest.
  • Participants draw upon a wide range of interpersonal techniques to create an inclusive environment and influence a critical mass of people to take positive action.

Activity Details

CO2 Simulation

The premise of the simulation is that the participating nations have signed the General Agreement on Climate Change (GACC) promising to reduce their annual carbon emissions by certain pledged amounts. Each participant plays the role of a country ambassador and needs to negotiate with other ambassadors to decide how many units of reduction their country will pledge. They begin to realize the importance of trust, communication and the need to minimize free-riding and defecting. Typically, participants need to confront collapses in cooperation by forming alliances and coalitions and adapting how they are communicating and influencing others. After the simulation, the participants reflect on the choices that were made and the connection between micro-actions and macro-outcomes. The participants reflect on what they discovered about the challenges in leading social progress, particularly the perceived tension between short-term, self-interest and long-term, collective interest. They explore four different roles that people tend to play when addressing collective action problems and identify which role is most effective when leading social progress.

Collective Action Problems

The facilitator helps participants apply the learnings from the CO2 simulation to a broad range of collective action problems across the three spheres of citizenship (i.e., friends & family, my community, and the bigger world). Working in pairs, participants identify the micro-actions that need to be changed to address the macro-problem. As a group, they discuss how they can mobilize others to change their micro-actions. They recognize the need to understand what motivates people’s behavior and the importance of helping others see the impact of their actions and how cooperating can lead to better outcomes for the collective.

Inclusive Leadership

Participants use their experiences to identify the attitudes and skills they believe are needed to mobilize others to work towards social progress. Through a team challenge, participants discover the importance of inclusive leadership when working with others and recognize that winning the support of 51% is not enough. They understand what inclusive leadership looks and sounds like and reflect on situations where the skills of inclusive leadership will benefit themselves and others.

I Resolve To

Participants reflect on what they have learnt and make a commitment for future action. Individually, they complete an appreciative inquiry reflection using a traffic light concept whereby they record an action they will continue doing (orange), an action they need to stop (red) and an action they will begin to do (green) so that in time it becomes a new green. Each participant is given an “I Resolve To…” card, to record their commitment. Participants are encouraged to share their I Resolve To with another person and to hold each other accountable. They take the cards away with them and are encouraged to keep them somewhere they can see daily so that it acts as a further incentive for them to take action.

 

Classroom Requirements

  • Venue: large open space with room for approx. 60 participants to move around and work in both small and large groups (ideally a gym, library, drama room etc.)
  • AV: data projector and large screen, microphone (cordless is ideal), speakers to play videos and music
  • Chair for each participant
  • Pen/pencil per participant
  • Minimum of two staff members for active observation
  • The C02 simulation requires tables and chairs in a u-shape (similar to the UN)
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Some images from our Social Progress workshops