Skip to content

Gaming the system; a Cranfield University initiative

02 Aug 2023 6 min read

Chris Seekings, Deputy Editor of Transform, at IEMA, writes about a Cranfield University game that sees students test their ability to mitigate climate breakdown.


Image of students sitting around a round table engaged with the game
As part of its Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship, Cranfield University – an IEMA university partner – has been offering masters students the opportunity to take part in a groundbreaking roleplaying game, which tests their decision-making as they attempt to help deliver a sustainable future by 2050.

The Exploring Sustainable Futures Game sees the students represent businesses, entrepreneurs, policymakers, civil society organisations, and ‘the public voice’, as they react to changes in the economy, technology, and society while attempting to avert climate breakdown.

The ‘winners’ are judged by the resources they accumulate, but more importantly, they are scored on whether they have contributed to a more sustainable future. The teams later reflect on the world they have collectively created during a multimedia experience.

“We want this to grow, and we want other universities to be playing it,” says Gemma Adams, who helped develop the game, and is Experiential Learning Lead at the Cranfield School of Management. “The students love it, because it’s experimental learning, and applying skills in a volatile, uncertain world, which I don’t think you can learn through abstract theory.”

Taking part has been found to improve students’ understanding of:

  • The radically different, plausible futures that could unfold by 2050
  • The role different actors play in societal change
  • The interrelationship between business, society and the wider living world
  • What might have to change in the world for sustainable development to happen
  • The potential for business to both regenerate and degrade society.
Copy of game logo

Richard Naylor, Group Sustainable Development Director at Hypnos Beds, and student member of IEMA, is currently undertaking a sustainability business specialist apprenticeship at Cranfield University and took part in the game.

He said: “You’re playing with a lot of people you don’t know, and it’s very interesting to hear all the different perspectives. It was very useful, good fun, and a real eye-opener to all the different stakeholders involved on the road to sustainability.”

As well as the environmental knowledge that it focuses on, the game also helps students to develop their employability skills, such as teamwork and communication.

Indeed, an apprenticeship is a fantastic way of gaining relevant skills and knowledge, both through study and on-the-job work experience, as students seek alternative routes into the environmental and sustainability sector.

Google searches for ‘sustainability apprenticeship’ have increased by almost 20% in the UK over the past year and the number of environmental-related apprenticeships is growing, which will help to support green skills in our future workforce.

Learn more about the game.

Lean more about Cranfield’s Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship: Webinar: An introduction to our Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship (with Sustainability MSc)

This is an IEMA blog for the Green Careers Hub, written by Chris Seekings.

Image credit: Cranfield University

Related articles

Created by

IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals