Education for sustainable development and game theory

Corridoni, Tommaso and Kocher, Urs and Reggiani, Luca (2014) Education for sustainable development and game theory. Perspectives in Science, 2 (1-4). pp. 22-45. ISSN 2213-0209

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A simulation game, based on a case study for Sustainable Development Education (SDE)(Kyburz-Graber et al., 2006; Kyburz-Graber et al., 2010; Wilhelm, 2006), has been adapted and experimented to establish its capability to let the players choose one or more strategies, in the sense of Game Theory (GT) (Von Neumann and Morgenstern, 1953; Osborne and Rubinstein 1994), following cognitive, social and ethical processes typical of the SDE (Kyburz-Graber, 2006). Two didactical experimentations on in-training teachers of primary and secondary school have shown that: (1) players learn to select pure or mixed equilibrium strategies (ES), identifying in particular the Nash equilibrium as minimum risk ES; (2) ES are chosen according to a scientific and ethical evaluation of the case study, involving competences of SDE: using above all mobilitation competences, grounded on ethical values, players are inclined to see the game under a values-oriented vision, identifying it with the case study; using above all analysis competences, linked to their technical-scientific knowledge, players are inclined to see the game under an analysis-oriented vision, in which the game process is apart; (3) during the game, visions evolve or radicalize, in the players or the group, correlated each other by feedbacks linked to peculiar social dynamics triggered by the choice of the ES themselves. An integrated vision, values- and analysis-oriented at the same time, is necessary to achieve a stable and conscious sustainability, so that “winning the game” means to reach SDE objectives too; (4) game structure and rules, in particular the ratio between the numbers of players and pure ES, affect all the processes.

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