The science and the politics of climate change are complex, they are interconnected and can seem impenetrable to most people. The impact of climate change is becoming a tragic reality for the majority of the world’s population. For many young people, climate change represents a betrayal, a crisis, a call to action. Whichever way you look at it, climate change is deadly serious, it is certainly not flippant, it is not a game.
In the run up to Science Week 2019, NYCI and Limerick Institute of Technology are launching our continuous professional development programme, Games in Youth Work. This programme will train youth workers to design and develop games that will engage young people in climate action.
Games -and particularly computer games – have become ubiquitous in contemporary youth culture in Ireland. It makes sense that youth workers engage with young people within this space.
Games are designed to be fun but they are also meant to be challenging. Many of the best board games have complex rules which encourage players to strategize, to build and betray alliances, to grapple with competing priorities, to use logic, intuition, creativity and critical thinking in order to solve complex problems. Well-designed games can expose players to a reality beyond their own lived experiences, encouraging empathy with others, reflection on serious issues, building in players the confidence to experiment and to act.
In making such games, youth workers will consider the values they want to embed within the game, the issues to be highlighted, the knowledge and skills to be learned, the emotions they want the game to evoke and the actions that it can provoke. The course which we are running in Athlone will also train youth workers how to encourage young people to design their own games. In this way the game can become a way to empower young people to understand complex issues such as climate change and to act!
This programme is being launched now in celebration of Science Week 2019 which runs from 11th November. This programme is a collaboration between NYCI’s Development Education programme and STEAM in Youth Work project. It is delivered by Paul Keating from the Limerick Institute of Technology. It is funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland with additional support from Irish Aid.