SIPA, Earth Institute Co-Host 2016 NASPAA Student Simulation Competition
On Saturday, February 27, more than 50 students enrolled in master's degree programs at 20-plus universities in the northeastern United States convened at the International Affairs Building to participate in a day-long climate change simulation competition prepared by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).
SIPA and the Earth Institute were co-hosts of the regional competition site in New York. Competitions also took place at seven other regional sites -- six in the United States and a "global" site in the Netherlands. All told, more than 350 students from over 136 MPA and MPP programs participated in the overall competition.
Over the course of the event, randomly selected teams of 15 to 20 students were challenged to create a comprehensive multi-sector policy plan to ensure that global temperature does not increase by more than 2°C by 2100 – a globally recognized temperature limit to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The NASPAA competition brought together diverse students from around the region and nation. Five SIPA students were selected to take part.
Pictured here, a student uses climate simulation models to test negotiation ideas to see if they meet the competition's goal of 2°C.
As part of the simulation, students put themselves in the shoes of a representative of one of seven sectors: Carbon Pricing, Population and Consumption, Agriculture and Land Use, Fossil Fuels, Sustainable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Climate Hawks. Each sector was beholden to its respective stakeholders and could make individual decisions only for their respective policy levers. Students had to think within and “play the part” of their stakeholder group, learning what matters most to them, what compromises could be made to bring others to the table and to come to consensus, and what impact their decisions would have.
Students had to collaborate while also defend their sector, and come up with solutions and present the findings.
Pictured here, one of the groups presents its findings.
In the simulation, the sectors had to negotiate with each other to come up with a single set of policy recommendations to the chiefs of staff to the G-20 leaders to limit global temperature rise to 2°C. Representatives from each group then presented their conclusion to judges.
The three competition judges -- Anthony D’Agostino, Betty Cremmins and Stacy Lee -- said they were exceedingly impressed with all three groups at the Columbia site, observing that the students took a thoughtful and nuanced approach to the challenge that showed evidence of advanced knowledge of the policy process and strong analytic and reasoning skills.
Steve Cohen, executive director of the Earth Institute and a professor of practice at SIPA, served as one of the global judges. “The teams presented sophisticated and cogent analyses of one of the most intractable policy problems facing the global community," he said.
The winning team for the Northeast Region proposed a comprehensive policy package to limit climate change impacts while maintaining global economic growth. Members highlighted that the key to success is cross-sector collaboration to achieve the necessary reduction in global temperatures. The team took a practical approach to cutting the emissions, emphasizing political reality and keeping practicality in mind.
Alison Miller (pictured), deputy executive director of the Earth Institute, served as the competition’s simulation leader and oversaw the day’s activities.
“By the time they got to the negotiating table on Saturday morning, [participating students] were well acquainted with their roles,” she said. “Students committed enthusiastically to serving their stakeholders while attempting to reach compromises with the other sectors. They quickly realized the difficulty of meeting the temperature goal, and worked tirelessly to generate innovative ideas to engage all sectors while keeping an eye on political feasibility and reality. It was not an easy task.”