La Follette organizes climate change event for area high school students

Photo of students engaging in a climate simulation.
Climate policy simulation with students in the Escalera Youth Program of Centro Hispano at Madison West High School on April 26

Future climate leaders engaged in climate change simulations with the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) at Madison West High School on April 26 and 28.

WEI Research and Education Coordinator Scott Williams (MPA ’10) and Outreach Coordinator Allison Bender guided the students, who are part of Centro Hispano of Dane County’s Escalera program, through the En-ROADS (Energy-Rapid Overview and Decision-Support) Climate Change Solutions Simulator.

The students were then divided into influential stakeholder groups, such as the business sector and climate activists, and worked together to evaluate and negotiate strategies to limit future global warming in a mock U.N. Summit.

“[The simulation activity] provided a great opportunity for students to play around with the different scenarios and practice compromise and collaboration skills. Some students commented, ‘This is so easy; why can’t we do this in real life,’ which provided an opportunity to share information about the policy-making process,” says Lupe Salmeron, Madison West High School Escalera coordinator.

The simulations built upon the La Follette School’s October 2021 Policy Forum, which focused on climate policy. Nearly 300 policymakers, practitioners, community leaders, and researchers gathered at the Forum to discuss policy strategies around climate change.

The UW–Madison Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies funded the climate simulations event, which was organized by the La Follette School and WEI.

“For some students, this was their first opportunity to talk in depth about climate change and the possible effects of policies we could put in place right now,” says Bender. “The students also carefully considered the equity implications of certain policies; if we implement this, who bears the cost and what are the co-benefits?”