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Special Issue on Innovations in Teaching Environmental and Resource Economics

Seeds of Learning: Uncertainty and Technology Adoption in an Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Game

Babatunde Abidoye, Sahan T.M. Dissanayake, and Sarah A. Jacobson

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Posted online: May 11, 2021
Download Supplementary Materials: 
   Adaptation Incentive Recording Sheet
   EBA Game Handout  
   EBA Game Handout 4Page
   EBA Game Instructions
   EBA Game Instructor How-To
   Extensions and Modifications
   Seeds of Learning - Game Play Slides
   Suggested Readings

Abstract: We introduce an interactive game exploring ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) to climate change, with a focus on technology adoption and uncertainty. The game is useful in academic classes and training sessions for policy makers and stakeholders. Participants play the role of small-scale farmers in a developing country where their farming practices cause erosion that pollutes waterways, while at the same time climate change is making farmers more vulnerable to natural threats like flooding. The game gives participants a series of opportunities to adopt EBA practices: for example, a riparian buffer strip, low-till farming, and agroforestry. The practices differ in the uncertainty surrounding their effects on yields. The game deploys three policies to encourage adoption: a flat payment, a conservation auction, and a flat payment with a pilot bonus for early adoption. Players observe each other’s choices and outcomes, which allows for social learning. Participants get a hands-on understanding of climate change’s impacts, adaptation, ecosystem services, payment for ecosystem service programs, choice under uncertainty, social learning, adoption of new technology, learning spillovers, cost-effective conservation, and conservation auctions. We provide all materials necessary to run the game, a list of suggested readings, and ideas for discussions and assignments.

Keywords: Classroom game, climate change adaptation, ecosystem-based adaptation, payments for ecosystem services, technology adoption, uncertainty

Managing a Multiuse Resource with Payments for Ecosystem Services: A Classroom Game

Lauriane S. Yehouenou, Stephen N. Morgan, and Kelly A. Grogan

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Posted online: April 22, 2021
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Abstract: This article presents a classroom experiment that introduces students to the concept of payment for ecosystem services (PES) applied to a multipurpose renewable forest resource. Through a natural resource management game, students can analyze how PES programs may alter the individual and group harvest decisions and stocks of both components of the multipurpose resources. Participants can choose between harvesting whole trees for timber, harvesting leaves for fodder, or some combination of both. In each round, students choose the quantity of both resources to harvest for profit. Students complete the experiment with and without the PES program to enable comparison of decisions across management regimes. The outcome (usually complete forest removal) at the end of the game helps demonstrate the tragedy of the commons in the absence of conservation policies.

Keywords: Classroom, ecosystem services, experiments, natural resource management, payments for ecosystem services

Making Learning about Climate Change Fun and Interactive

Misti D. Sharp and Jada M. Thompson

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Posted online: April 22, 2021
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Abstract: Climate change policy is a challenging subject to teach to undergraduates as it requires knowledge of a complex physical system (our planet) combined with an understanding of our global social-political-economic structures, which engender puzzling, yet, predictable behavior by participants. Further complicating this learning environment are the personal and social implications of choosing to combat climate change versus allowing others to address the problem (i.e., free-riding). To simulate the complex decision environment for climate change policy making, a “public good game” classroom experiment is a useful activity that allows students to make decisions regarding the provision of a public good (climate mitigation) while observing how their behavior and the behavior of others results in benefits (or costs) that are shared by all. In this paper, six public good games are played by students in an undergraduate environmental economics course with different parameterizations in each game simulating different aspects of climate change negotiations that can help explain why some policies related to climate change succeed while others fail. Special considerations for face-to-face versus online implementation are explored.

Keywords: Classroom, ecosystem services, experiments, natural resource management, payments for ecosystem services