Birmingham City University features the Research Project

Researchers are working with teenagers in Birmingham to design a climate action board game, in order to engage young people and showcase how the built environment sector can make a positive contribution.

Making climate action relevant for young people

Simeon Shtebunaev and Claudia Carter, researchers based in the Property, Planning and Policies research group, have launched the Built Climate Action Game project which will work with twelve young people in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham.

Over a period of six-to-eight weeks, the team will employ various art and design methods to develop the board game.

The project builds on past BCU projects such as Participology and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Place Makers game.

“We will recruit young people by working with The GAP Arts Project, tapping into community connections and existing networks of young people interested in art-led methods,” Simeon says.

“Balsall Heath has a post-industrial profile, with low air quality and ageing buildings. The young people growing up in this area may not understand how climate research can be relevant to their neighbourhood.”

The project is also supported by the RTPI West Midlands, Birmingham Architectural Association and the Anthropocene Architecture School.

Fun and exciting workshops

The project will be a combination of online and physical workshops, with the former aiming to build up participants’ knowledge of the challenges and how these can be addressed through planning, design and the construction sector.

“Young people will then receive training and act as peer-researchers to collect further information from their own friends and the local community,” Simeon says.

“The four physical workshops will be facilitated by visual artists and academics, and will see the board game be developed in a fun and exciting way.”

Addressing a knowledge gap

The project is set to begin in September and will conclude in November before the COP26 Conference, which brings numerous stakeholders together to work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

It will be disseminated further via a dedicated online space for the project, where the template and instructions can be downloaded. Simeon and Claudia also plan for the project to be broadcast further through professional bodies, schools and social media.

“The game will aim to engage young people in climate research in the built environment by creating an engaging product that will be enjoyable to play,” Claudia explains. “Secondly, the instructions will be online for people to use as a teaching tool.

“Finally, other researchers and community organisations will be provided with the template for developing the game if they wish to replicate the process and develop a different type of game based on their own community.”

The researchers believe the project addresses a gap in the provision of educational and youth engagement materials regarding the role of the built environment in climate research.

“This has the potential to develop a group of young people who can advocate for better climate adaptations,” Simeon says. “The project can provide a great way of developing community knowledge.”

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