March 18, 2016

New Simulation Focuses on Louisiana's Coastal Resilience

The Batten School Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming has recently developed the Louisiana Coastal Resilience Game. The simulation uses economic, environmental and social modeling to forecast the resilience of Louisiana wetlands over time given various policy decisions and natural weather events.  

The Louisiana Coastal Resilience Game, developed by Professor Gerard Learmonth and his team, provides students with valuable leadership and policymaking experience. As players, students take on the role of one of seven individuals, including government officials and corporate executives, whose decisions directly affect the condition of Louisiana’s shoreline. The game gives students the opportunity to act as key stakeholders, in a position to draft policy that could positively or negatively impact the health of Louisiana’s wetlands.

Although similar games exist, this unique game is the only one to have a multiplayer functionality, meaning that it models real decision-making. In the game, students must cooperate and collaborate with one another to achieve their goals. This aspect of the game enhances the simulation and turns it into an interactive policymaking experience. Students lobby, negotiate with and persuade one another in order to save Louisiana’s coastline, as they would in real policymaking settings.

The game is also notable for its social component. It not only tracks the economic and environmental impact of policy changes, but also the social impact on the area. That triple bottom line (economic, environmental, social) is increasingly important to policymakers, which the Game’s designers kept in mind throughout development. 

Michael Purvis is a Systems Analyst with the Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming. He hopes that students will have ideas and suggestions to improve the simulation during this first round of beta testing. After testing, the game will be used by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, ConocoPhillips and Entergy to develop policy that will regenerate Louisiana’s disappearing marshland. The public-private partnership to fund this effort could lead to policy changes in both the public and private sectors.

“I hope that this simulation will get people thinking in a different way,” Purvis says.

Professor Learmonth is excited that the Center is able to provide students with an interactive experience that is relevant to both current events and the Batten curriculum. The Center strives to give students the opportunity to use the analytical and critical thinking skills that they have learned in the classroom in these simulations. Mimicking real world situations, students are able to act as leaders in many different fields and experience policy in action. The Center hopes to further engage students and plans to develop more simulations in the future. Future games will touch on policy topics such as the environment, development, security, education and health.