Environmental Role-Play:

Flooding Helping Cities Adapt to Climate Change Risks (II)


Sarah Hammitt and Jessica Artiles under the direction of Professor Lawrence Susskind

An eight-party, environmentally-focused role-play simulation, Flooding deals with an investment firm that is in the final stages of a multi-year planning process for a large, riverside mixed-use development. FEMA recently updated Evantown’s Flood Insurance Rate Map and the development falls within the 100-year floodplain. In addition, a study by the local university concludes that altered precipitation patterns brought on by climate change will put more and more properties at risk of flooding in the future. Should the firm be allowed to go through with the development? How and to what extent should Evantown take measures to protect itself against flood risks? Who is responsible for paying for whatever adaptation measures are used to protect vulnerable areas?


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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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.).

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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
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Evantown Investments is in the final stages of a multi-year planning process for Riverview, a large, riverside mixed-use development. However, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Map Modernization program, recently updated Evantown's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), and now Riverview falls within the 100-year floodplain (defined as an area that has a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year). In addition, a study by the local university concludes that altered precipitation patterns brought on by climate change will put more and more properties at risk of flooding in the future. Not only do Evantown's zoning bylaws prohibit development within the 100-year floodplain, the prospect of increasing flood risks poses new questions about safety, liability, property value, appropriate protective measures, and financial responsibility. Should Evantown Investments be allowed to go through with the Riverview development? How and to what extent should Evantown take measures to protect itself against current and projected flood risks? Who is responsible for paying for whatever adaptation measures are used to protect vulnerable areas. And once the Riverview development issue is resolved, should Evantown allow future projects in current and projected floodplains.



  • In a changing climate, property values may change depending on the property's location and the relative vulnerability to risk. While the ultimate extent to which vulnerabilities will change cannot be predicted, there is a general trajectory for low-lying areas to become more vulnerable to flooding. Property owners, developers and cities may need to incorporate flexible terms into property agreements to maintain fairness in the system. For example, transfer of development rights, land swaps, and flexible land uses can build more resiliency into the private property market.
  • Whenever possible, it is critical that cities use data to guide adaptation planning, such as FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Climate models are becoming more accurate and can be downscaled to regional levels. For some areas, these models predict more frequent and more intense storms; the resultant flooding events will impact existing and future development.
  • Major infrastructure decisions will be made under uncertainty of future conditions. Taking climate projections into account when designing infrastructure is particularly important because infrastructure investments are usually intended to be in place for several decades. Each city will need to discuss how conservative they wish to be with regard to projected risk. The most successful adaptation planning efforts by cities thus far seem to be those aimed at reducing climate change risks as part of ongoing infrastructure planning, growth management, and capital budgeting activities.
  • Regulations from the state and federal level will impact how local governments respond, and local laws may need to be changed in response. Cities can use changes in federal and state regulations as opportunities to assess existing city regulations, spur conversation and education around climate change adaptation, and create city-specific updates to local codes.
  • Finally, stakeholders will place different priorities on various short- and long-term goals, some of which will conflict. A short-term goal may be real estate development for economic growth, while a long-term goal may be urban growth management to protect valuable natural resources. Conducting role-playing games around issues of climate change adaptation can help to broaden perspectives, facilitate discussion, enhance scenario planning, and work toward "no-regrets" solutions in which all priorities are met.



This game is one of an initial set of three games that the MIT Science Impact Collaborative has developed to illustrate the need to consider climate change in existing policy debates such as how to improve the condition of a city's housing stock, rather than only tackling climate change as a separate and comprehensive issue. The other two games written for this series are Heat Island and Water Use.



For all parties:

  • General Instructions


Role specific:

  • Confidential instructions to the player negotiating for:
  • Mayor J. Gray
  • Evantown Investments
  • Alliance for Evantown's Environment and Ecology (AEEE)
  • Builder's Association
  • City of Evantown Planning and Zoning Department
  • Evantown Residents' Association
  • Evantown Affordable Housing Coalition (EAHC)
  • Facilitator


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Note



Climate change; adaptation; housing; multiparty; public dispute resolution



Heat Islands

Water Use

Flooding Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 8
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: Facilitator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes