Exploring Sustainable Futures Game

About the Game

Recently showcased at COP26, as part of the Green Zone activity taking place during the summit. Audience members had the opportunity to take part in our Exploring Sustainable Futures Game, a role-playing learning experience used by the Sustainability group at Cranfield.

Since 2018, Cranfield have been using a Scenario Exploration board game to help Masters students think about strategic decision making in the context of four different pathways towards a sustainable future by 2050. Players representing established businesses interact with players representing entrepreneurs, policy makers, civil society organizations and ‘the public voice’ as they all react to changes in economy, technology, and society along these pathways. The ‘winners’ are judged not only by the amount of resources they have accumulated, but also by whether they have achieved their purpose, and the teams reflect on the nature of the world they have collectively created through their decisions.

The game concept was originally devised by the EU-Commission’s Joint Research Council (JCR), and this version of the game was developed in collaboration with Forum for the Future and the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) as part of the EU-InnovatE project. Cranfield have since taken the lead in using and refining the game which has so far been played with over 200 students, with over 20 faculty and PhD students getting involved as ‘Game Hosts’ facilitating play at each table.

We are refining and improving the game with each use and have started to collect data on the effects on participants. Initial findings show that playing the game deepens students’ understanding of 1) the radically different, plausible futures that could unfold, 2) the role different actors play in societal change, 3) the interrelationship between business, society and the wider living world, 4) what might have to change in the world for sustainable development to happen and 5) the scope for business to both regenerate and degrade society.

Playing the game

There is open access to the visual assets required to print copies of the original game tools developed with EU-InnovatE that can be found here, for any other organisation wishing to use the innovative learning tool. Please note, we at Cranfield in collaboration with partners at Warwick University have since updated and further developed this learning game to its current iteration of ‘Exploring Sustainable Futures’.

Get involved

We are looking for industry partners to help progress this ambitious project. Given our success at COP26, and the scope of influence this game has in shifting attitudes towards sustainability, we are keen to grow this project. If you or your organisation are interested in hosting a game session or simply finding out more, please...

Get in touch

What’s next?

The beauty of this game is that it can be played at various levels with the same mission of inspiring people to be change-makers in their own context.

Our vision is to create separate offerings to:

  • support sustainability initiatives within companies
  • inspire the next generation of change-makers within communities
  • build on existing research within the field of sustainable business

Cranfield University at edie Sustainability Leaders forum

On 8 March 2022, we will be delivering a taster session of the Exploring Sustainable Futures game at the edie Sustainability Leaders forum.

Join us for an immersive experience and put into action all the learnings from a busy schedule packed with debates, panels and workshops from global sustainable leaders and pioneers.

Tickets are still available for the conference here.

Cranfield University at COP26

Watch back the live stream from COP26

We were privileged to showcase our Exploring Sustainable Futures game at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. You can watch the live stream from COP26 here.

What is COP26?

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations annual climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Parties are the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty agreed in 1994 which has 197 Parties (196 countries and the EU). The 2021 conference, hosted by the UK, together with our partners Italy, in Glasgow, will be the 26th meeting of the Parties, which is why it's called COP26.

United Nations climate change conferences are among the largest international meetings in the world. The negotiations between governments are complex and involve officials from every country in the world as well as representatives from civil society and the global news media.

A pivotal year for our climate

In November 2021, the UK hosted COP26 in Glasgow, bringing world leaders together to tackle climate change. The UK is aiming to secure a global plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as from cars and factories, to zero by 2050. It could be the moment we turn climate change around.