The lucky country vs. a fierce planet: Gamification and simulation as tools for teaching complex social theories of sustainability

Magee, L, Richardson, A and Pepperell, N 2016, 'The lucky country vs. a fierce planet: Gamification and simulation as tools for teaching complex social theories of sustainability', in M. Chou (ed.) Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), Melbourne, Australia, 28 November - 1 December 2016, pp. 236-242.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title The lucky country vs. a fierce planet: Gamification and simulation as tools for teaching complex social theories of sustainability
Author(s) Magee, L
Richardson, A
Pepperell, N
Year 2016
Conference name TASA 2016 Conference: Cities and Successful Societies
Conference location Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates 28 November - 1 December 2016
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)
Editor(s) M. Chou
Publisher The Australian Sociological Association
Place of publication Australia
Start page 236
End page 242
Total pages 7
Abstract This paper aims to outline some of the possible advantages of the web-based simulation tool Fierce Planet for the teaching of social theories of sustainability to undergraduates. Its contention is that such a tool can address some of the challenges involved in teaching social theory in general, and theories of sustainability in particular. While social theorists understand their work as eminently practical - as a means of mobilising the sociological imagination to orient our collective action in a complex world - the concrete relevance of social theory has long been recognised as notoriously difficult to communicate in a classroom setting (e.g. Orum 1980; Holtzman 2005). To these general challenges can be added those more specific to the teaching of social theories of sustainability, involving complex relationships between economic growth, population growth and potential environmental limits. This combination, as Holtzman (2005) suggests, is potentially toxic for cognitive resources, enhancing the odds that students will become overwhelmed and disengage from the material entirely. Enlisting students in more hands-on, practical, problem-based learning environments offers one means to address these challenges (Macheski et. al., 2008; Pedersen 2010; Osnowitz & Jenkins 2014). In this paper, we explore one important option for overcoming these problems: the use of a web-based simulation tool - which we have named 'Fierce Planet' - that enables hands-on, practical, problem-based scenarios to be deployed in the teaching of social theories of sustainability.
Subjects Social Theory
Simulation and Modelling
Environmental Education and Extension
Keyword(s) simulation
gamification
sustainability
social theory
teaching
Copyright notice © TASA 2016
ISBN 9780646964805
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