Environmental Role-Play:

How to Handle the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change A Community Role-play Simulation


Hannah Payne and Genea Foster under the direction of Lawrence Susskind

A seven-party role-play simulation involving a diverse set of stakeholders who must consider the short-term and long-term public health impacts of climate change while assessing the pros and cons of specific (and conflicting) risk management strategies


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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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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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.


Mapleton, a city of 100,000, has just completed a Climate Vulnerability Assessment. The assessment shows that extreme heat and possible flooding associated with climate change pose substantial threats to the city. City officials asked an Advisory Group to suggest ways of preparing for possible emergencies and preventing injury and loss of life. The Advisory Group will have to wrestle with different risk management strategies and come to agreement if they want to have an impact.

This is a seven-party role-play simulation involving city officials, university planners, business representatives, and environmentalists trying to figure out how their city should respond to the possible public health impacts of climate change. The exercise introduces a public health orientation that is often lacking from local efforts to figure out how to adapt to climate risks.

Participants must consider the short-term and long-term public health impacts of climate change while assessing the pros can cons of specific (and conflicting) risk management strategies.


A recent article published in Nature Climate Change titled Role-play simulations for climate change adaptation education and engagement provides “rigorous empirical evidence” showing how negotiation role-plays like How to Handle the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change can “enhance collaborative capacity,” “foster social learning” and increase the readiness of citizens and professionals to engage in climate change adaptation efforts.


  1. City officials should take public health risks into account when trying to prioritize strategies for climate adaptation.
  2. Local climate change policies need to take account of both short-term and long-term public health risks and benefits.
  3. In managing the public health risks of climate change, who should be responsible and who should bear the costs – residents, private sector, local government, state government, or the federal government?
  4. Climate vulnerability assessments can be used to educate residents about localized risks and vulnerable populations. They are only useful, though, if they stimulate discussion about actions that can and should be taken.
  5. Climate adaptation policies can provide co-benefits. That is, actions like building green infrastructure can reduce public health risks while simultaneously achieving environmental protection goals.
  6. Local climate adaptation efforts should take account of the need for local governments to work together during emergencies and deal with public health risks through joint action.
  7. It is hard to bring together representatives of numerous groups to engage in joint problem solving or collaborative risk management. Professional (neutral) facilitation can make the task much easier.
  8. Infrastructure investments will continue to affect communities long after they are made.
    Building in flexibility and committing to ongoing monitoring of shifting circumstances can make it easier to adjust and adapt.
  9. Stakeholders have competing interests and values that shape their views on proposed climate risk management policies. Groups can find solutions that meet their conflicting interests, but only if they listen carefully to each other’s concerns and construct “packages” that seek to meet multiple interests simultaneously.


For all parties:

    • General Instructions

Role specific:
Confidential Instructions for:

  • City Manager
  • Director of Public Housing
  • Director of Public Health
  • Executive Director, Neighbors for a Green Mapleton (NGM)
  • Long-Range Planner for Mapleton University
  • President, Mapleton Chamber of Commerce
  • Facilitator

Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching note


This game requires seven players – one representing each of six stakeholder groups, plus a facilitator. Multiple groups of seven can play the game simultaneously.



A digitally enhanced version of this simulation is available through the iDecisionGames platform and includes the following features:

  • An Instructor’s Guide summarizing the negotiation concepts covered in the simulation, a quick review of simulation logistics, and a ready-to-use set of debriefing slides;
  • Highlights from background readings that will help both students and instructors gain a better understanding of negotiation concepts and methods covered in the simulation;
  • Pre- and post-simulation questionnaires instructors can use gauge each student’s grasp of the core concepts before and after participating in the simulation;
  • PowerPoint slides that introduce key concepts before the simulation and highlight lessons for debriefing;
  • Real time, interactive, data analytics provided via the iDecisionGames platform.

To order the Public Health Enhanced Package click here.

How to Handle the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change Attributes

Time required: 2.5 - 3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: No
Agent present: No
Neutral third party present: Facilitator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes