Instead of readings and essays, students taking American Studies 398: Service Learning in America spend their time developing “Climatopia,” a board game that educates players about climate-enhanced natural disasters.
The service learning class was started by UNC professor Rachel Willis over four years ago. In the six terms the class has been offered, Climatopia has won “Be a Maker” awards for its interdisciplinary nature and creative implementation.
Rachel Kneubuehl, a member of the Climatopia communications liaisons committee said the purpose of the class and game is to educate people of all ages on how to be more resilient towards climate change.
“It's really just to help people feel more prepared in the future if they do find themselves in a natural disaster,” Kneubuehl said.
Emma Brown, another member of the committee described the game as “Candyland meets Terraforming Mars.” She said Climatopia seeks to bring light to the issue of climate change and its impact on all communities. Due to its goal of appealing to players of all ages, the rules of Climatopia are fairly simple.
“There's hurricanes, wildfires, some things like that. And as you hit those, you will either have to move back a few spaces, or you will have superpowers that allow you to survive the game,” Brown said.
Though Brown joined the project this semester, she said she has found Climatopia to be extremely engaging.
“It's very different, it's very unique and it's unlike anything else I've taken at Carolina,” she said.