Environmental Role-Play:

Flooding in Milton Collectively Managing Climate Change Risks


Seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among local government, community, business, and environmental representatives trying to reach agreement on a strategy for managing climate change risks in a mid-size coastal city.


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.

Flooding in Milton is a seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among local government, community, business, and environmental representatives trying to reach agreement on a strategy for managing climate change risks in a mid-size coastal city.

The game focuses on managing increased probability of river flooding through hard and soft infrastructure solutions, as well as land use planning. . It is one of four exercises developed as part of the New England Climate Adaptation Project.* The Milton game highlights potential financing strategies for various flood risk adaptation options, as well as dilemmas surrounding new commercial and residential development on undeveloped, flood-prone land along rivers.


Milton, a coastal city of 80,000 people, has a flooding problem. Milton recently experienced a major flooding event, during which the Granite River that runs through the city overflowed its banks, destroying or damaging many homes, businesses, and roads. The threat of flooding appears to be getting worse due to two different trends. First, over the last 50 years, as Milton and the surrounding metropolitan region have been developed, hard surfaces like roads and buildings have caused rainwater runoff to flow quickly into swollen creeks and rivers rather than drain into the ground. Second, climate projections indicate that Milton will see more rainfall and more severe storms in the future. Heavy rainfall not only causes the Granite River to flood, but it can also result in sewer collection systems overflowing onto streets and into storm drains, thus polluting Milton’s beaches and fishing waters.


In response to public concern, the mayor convened the River Flooding Task Force to generate recommendations about how flood risks in Milton can be managed now and into the future. The Task Force is a small working group of city officials and community leaders. If they can reach agreement on a set of actions to be taken, the mayor will make it his priority during the remainder of his administration to implement the recommendations.


Major lessons

  • Climate change adaptation poses difficult planning choices, but there are actions cities and towns can take now to protect themselves that will be beneficial regardless of how severe climate change risks turn out to be.
  • Development, conservation, and infrastructure investments decisions made today will continue to affect communities far into the future. Short-term actions that do not take long-term climate change risks into account could prove extremely costly in the long run.
  • A community-wide approach to managing the collective risks associated with climate change can create opportunities to address other issues while reducing vulnerability and enhancing community resilience.
  • Communities must assess their vulnerabilities and decide which adaptation strategies are most appropriate.
  • Stakeholders may have conflicting interests that shape their views about which public policy choices make the most sense. By working collaboratively and taking science into account, communities can find creative solutions that meet the interests of diverse stakeholders.
  • At-risk towns and cities will have to consider how the financial responsibility for reducing climate risks will be distributed and whose responsibility it is to implement adaptation measures.



This exercise requires seven roles: six stakeholders and one facilitator. Multiple groups of seven can play at the same time. Where there are uneven multiples of seven, players may be doubled up in certain roles.


Total time requirements: 2 – 3 hrs

Preparation: 30 minutes

Negotiation: 60 – 75 minutes

Debriefing: minimum of 30 minutes, during which players can reflect on the game experience and how it relates to real life situations


Teaching Materials:

For all parties:

  • General instructions, including a climate change risks assessment memo and floodplain map



  • Confidential instructions for:
    • Planning Director
    • Public Works Director
    • Executive Director, Community Action Partners
    • President, Chamber of Commerce
    • Chairperson, Geneva Heights Neighborhood Association
    • Executive Director, Alliance for Watershed Health
    • Facilitator


Teacher’s Package

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Notes


* The other three exercises developed as part of the New England Climate Adaptation Project include:

Coastal Flooding and Climate-Related Risks in Launton

Flooding and Climate Change Risks in Northam

Coastal Flooding in Shoreham: Responding to Climate Change Risks

Flooding in Milton Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: No
Agent present: No
Neutral third party present: Yes
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes
Author: New England Climate Change Adaptation Project