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Threefold Prize Winner

Professor Florian Kapmeier’s work with climate simulation models contribute to sustainable management education.

By Sven Rottner & Florian Kapmeier

Tackling climate change is a job that requires intensive efforts from all humankind. With his interactive role-plays, called Climate Action Simulation and World Climate Simulation, Professor Florian Kapmeier seeks to show what influence each and every individual has on climate change and how politics and business can alter their course soon. Professor Kapmeier's commitment has received several awards and is also attracting greater attention in the German education system.

The two interactive role-playing games Climate Action Simulation and World Climate Simulation were co-developed by Professor Kapmeier as a partner of the US think tank "Climate Interactive," working with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and the Climate Change Initiative of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In these two games, the simulation of the climate-energy system with the two climate simulation models C-ROADS and En-ROADS used by decision-makers worldwide, is embedded into the simulation of a social system - a United Nations climate summit. The participants take on the roles of decision-makers in politics, business and society.

In several rounds of negotiations, the various stakeholders wrestle over the best strategies to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. The results of the negotiations are entered into C-ROADS and En-ROADS, allowing participants to see immediately whether the policies and actions are ambitious enough.

Motivation to fight climate change

The two role-plays seek to motivate participants to become more engaged in the fight against human-made climate change. Professor Kapmeier summarizes the heart of the problem: "Most people realise that the climate changes, but think they can't do anything about it. There is a lack of personal concern. The two interactive role plays counter this view and motivate them to take action."

More than 140,000 people from over 100 countries have taken part in the role-plays. In a representative study, 81 percent of participants said they were more motivated to actively fight climate change after playing the games.

Inspiring and interdisciplinary

AACSB International, an association of the world's leading business schools and of which ESB Business School is a member, honoured Professor Kapmeier's commitment last year with the Innovations that Inspire award. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) uses the award to highlight particularly innovative ideas in international management education. With the Climate Action Simulation, Professor Kapmeier prevailed over a large number of competitors. At ESB Business School, the Climate Action Simulation is an integral part of his teaching.

The Academy of Management, an international association of management researchers and organizations, also emphasized the special significance of the Climate Action Simulation at its 2021 Conference. It named the workshop designed by Professor Kapmeier and his colleagues from the USA and Britain as the best "Professional Development Workshop" in the "Management Education and Development" category. The Academy particularly recognized the high relevance of the topic for management education.

The importance of making climate change and its consequences visible in university teaching was also emphasized by the Heidelberg Center for Education for Sustainable Development at Heidelberg University of Education. Last year, the Center awarded the teaching prize "University Teaching for Sustainable Development" for the first time. Professor Kapmeier took third place with his Climate Action and World Climate Simulations. The jury of lecturers, students and representatives from politics particularly liked the fact that the simulations have already found their way into various disciplines of university teaching and were motivating students to become more involved in climate protection.

Relevant for companies too

In a recently completed project for the Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg, Professor Kapmeier and his team created the materials for using the games in German. Now, together with the Baden-Württemberg Ministries of the Environment and Education and the Klett publishing group, he aims to give climate role-playing games a permanent place in geography classes at high-schools. “It is important to sensitize young people to the topic at an early stage. If ways out of the climate crisis are discussed in school in this way, students can better understand why we need this transformation so quickly, what it could look like, and what their role in it could be,” he says.

This is also relevant for decision-makers in companies. Here, too, Professor Kapmeier sees clear advantages, saying “When playing the games, participants from companies quickly realize that climate protection and prosperity go hand in hand.” He is hopeful that the ambitious goals can be achieved: "We just need to act quickly, decisively, and collectively."