By Anita Sheih
Sustainability itself must be sustained—and that won’t work if the future is not on board. In order to solve this very issue, the Sustainability Alliance of Arizona has created a fun, interesting and educational game called Sustainability in Schools to teach and inspire the next generation of students to be invested in sustaining sustainability. The main audience it is geared towards is teachers and administrators who want to make their schools and teach their students to be more sustainable.
The way the game works is quite simple. The school faculty are split up into teams, and the deck of 45 cards is dealt as evenly as possible between the teams. Each card details one sustainable practice of different categories (energy, food, purchasing, waste or water) that the school may implement. The card includes not only how to apply the practice but also the scores of how beneficial and how costly (in terms of finance and labor) the practice would be. The cards are passed out evenly among the members of the team, and each member must select one of their cards to play. Once every member has selected their card, the whole team reads all the cards selected together and must discuss which options make the most sense for the school, work well with other cards, and result in the maximum benefit for the lowest cost. They can switch out cards as a team, and the goal is to ultimately come up with a two-year sustainability plan to put into action at their school.
All the while, the teams are also supposed to keep in mind which practices may be good teaching opportunities for their students. So even if a practice does not fit perfectly into their two-year plan, perhaps they could incorporate what it teaches into their curriculum instead. When all the teams have selected their cards and finalized their plans, they present to the entire group what they are proposing for their school. The team with the highest sustainability benefit and lowest cost in their plan wins, and now they can begin their work to put their plan into practice!
Another huge benefit to this game is how flexible it is. It may be played by educators who are just beginning to get interested in sustainability or by educators who are quite experienced. It is just as effective and provides different types of insight for both these scenarios. The game can also be played by one extremely motivated individual who wishes to come up with a plan to propose to their school alone. Finally, the game can be played by students, too, to teach them more about sustainability and introduce these different eco-friendly practices their curriculum.
This creative card game is an innovative way to further education in sustainability. It exposes educators to a variety of sustainable solutions, helps them think critically about the best practices to implement at their school, and provides a great exercise to use in classrooms with students as well. Who knew that all you need to help save the world is two hours to play this game, a group of motivated learners, and some paper on which to print out the cards? You can find more detailed instructions and the link to download the game files here. Happy gaming, and happy sustaining!