MSES students compete in regional climate change simulation

M.C. Tilton
March 17, 2016

Two students in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs Master of Science in Environmental Studies (MSES) program were on the top-placing teams in a regional competition sponsored by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Student Simulation Competition on climate change.

In the competition, teams of up to 21 students from universities across the world were asked to create an achievable plan to limit global warming, and competed at regional locations around the globe. MSES student Alexandra Sargent’s team won and MSES student Courtney Donker's took second place in the Midwestern NASPAA competition, held Saturday, Feb. 27.

The NASPAA simulation allowed students to build their networking and interaction skills while working to quickly produce climate solutions across many sectors. Organizers sent a 50-page brief on Thursday, Feb. 25 expecting students to have digested it by Saturday morning with travel and a Friday mixer in between. On Saturday, each group prepared a six-page written report and an oral presentation for judges.

“The NASPAA event was a great networking opportunity, and I met some truly wonderful individuals from universities around the Midwest,” Sargent said. “I think we were successful because of the amount of collaboration we did as a group -- it was not easy, mind you, since we had many vocal, strong-willed individuals representing different stakeholders, but it made for great debate and conversation.”

The simulation emphasized the numerical values within climate change models and intellectual debate among sectors for enacting policy changes.  The internal debate involved the complexities surrounding stakeholders, gross domestic product, agriculture and land use, fossil fuel retirement, research and development into new technology, and more.

“The advantage of taking part in this competition was the ability to learn about modeling techniques, the economics between sector interests, and the vested, environmental losses or gains with the prioritization of industry,” Donkor said. “The collaborative group work equated to a better understanding of the complexities with an increased number of solutions.”

Donkor served as a Climate Hawk, which meant that her sector mitigated implementation strategies among the other sectors such as sustainable energy, fossil fuels, agriculture, and human population and consumption.

The final presentations, posted on YouTube, are a summation of a long day of work, combining all aspects of the globally intertwined and complex topics within climate change.