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Role play in environmental debate

Extended role play can help students develop the skills for professional debate and action.

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The Cloudworks Team
29 April 2008

This course, on environmental studies, is intended to get students involved with debate and action right from the start. The emphasis is on developing the skills for professional practice, and not just professional knowledge. So the first five weeks of the course are devoted to an extended scenario, based on the Maldives. After learning about the Maldives in general, each student is allocated one of the small island states to represent. Following an activity guide, they gather information about their island and record it in a standard tabular form. They also draft a statement on their island’s environmental vulnerabilities and possible demands. The tutor group then role plays a meeting of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), working online to create a statement to go to the UN, arguing for action to benefit small islands. Later, meeting face-to-face at a day school, they role play an AOSIS meeting with the UN. For assessment, individual students submit a commentary about how consensus was reached (if it was) on the AOSIS statement and their role in the discussion. [Carlton Wood, Marion Hall, Adrian Dudd, Mary Thorpe, Steve Godwin]

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