Playing as a group

Survive the Century has been used in classrooms and conference rooms around the world.

A detailed two part lesson-plan has been developed by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, aimed at undergraduate and graduate students. It could also be used at the high school level for advanced students. Some background in climate change scenarios and/or environmental policy is helpful but not required.

  • (Part 1: Climate Change Journalists of Tomorrow)[]
  • (Part 2: Climate Change Decisions for Your Grandchild)[]

In less formal contexts, there are two main approaches we’ve seen work well.

The discussion version

45-60 minutes

  1. Divide your group into teams of 3-4.
  2. Direct everyone to (or give them a copy of this book) and give them a few minutes to play through the first decade (the 2020s) in their team, stopping when they get to the first newspaper screen. Encourage them to hit the “back” button and try out at least one different choice.
  3. Lead a 5-minute discussion as a whole group, based on the discussion questions.
  4. Continue like this through the remaining decades.

If pressed for time, you can allow teams to play the whole game through to the end (15 minutes) before leading a 15 minute group discussion. The game can also be played individually as homework, followed by a 20-30 minute discussion in class.

The debate version

50-70 minutes

  1. Divide your group into teams of 2-4. In groups of 5 people or fewer, each person works individually.
  2. Assign each team or individual a newspaper section from the list below. Explain that you (the facilitator) are the editor of the newspaper, and the teams represent subeditors who must try to convince you to make decisions that will appeal to their readership. For instance, the Business section wants to prioritise the interests of business people. Tell the participants that bribery, threats, lies and other creative forms of rhetoric are 100% encouraged.
  3. Project up on a screen where it’s visible to the whole group. Have the facilitator read the prompt and choices out loud.
  4. Allow the groups a couple of minutes to discuss what decision they will support, and then give them a chance to pitch it to you. Allow the teams to have a small debate back and forth. The facilitator should pick the most convincing argument.
  5. Continue through the game. You can put every decision up for debate, or only crucial ones, depending how much time you have.
  6. Leave 20 minutes of discussion time at the end to talk about what happened (out of character). What were the most compelling arguments made? What did this exercise show you about how climate politics happen in the real world?

Newspaper sections

  • Business
  • Lifestyle and Culture
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Environment
  • Technology
  • International Politics
  • Local News
  • Religion
  • Youth
  • Sports
  • Obituaries
  • Humour

Assignment ideas

  • Individual: Write a short news article from the future reflecting on how the changing climate might have impacted a specific area of human culture. It can be a straightforward news article, or an unusual format like a travelogue, agony aunt column, quiz, restaurant review, or the transcript of a political speech.
  • Group: Write and perform a short news or variety talk-show programme from the future that features celebrity interviews, live-reporting, or advertisement.
  • Individual (advanced): As the Survive the Century team, we sense-checked our temperature pathways using a climate modelling tool called En-Roads (available for free at Use this tool to create a dashboard that simulates the world in 2100 at 1.5°C, and at 3°C. Write up a timeline of political and social choices that might have led to that outcome.