WASHINGTON (April 8, 2022) – The American Political Science Association awarded a Research Partnerships on Critical Issues grant to a group of researchers at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) to conduct a comparative assessment of how politicians in eight Western Hemisphere countries are dealing with climate change. The GSPM team’s findings will be built into a policymaking simulation game that will teach players about the difficult trade-offs involved in reconciling short- and long-term goals. The game will feature an empirical model built by the research team to provide game players with realistic estimates of the consequences their pending decisions will have.
“Every national signatory to the Paris Agreement has pledged carbon emission reductions by 2030 and 2050,” Michael Cornfield, GSPM research director and principal investigator of the Improving Bifocal Governance Project, said. “But in the present day, each national government must also mitigate climate-related disasters and assure adequate and affordable energy supplies.”
Funded work on the eight-month project began April 1. Researchers will start developing the model and creating open-ended questions about a country’s political system, government capacity to deal with climate challenges, and potential risks. The team will then interview officials and experts in the study’s focus countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States.
“Our central research question is how do governments that range from very democratic to very authoritarian in structure and culture go about managing both what’s immediate and what’s looming ahead,” Cornfield said. “The answers, based on recent records in the countries under study will teach people how hard this balancing act is to perform, and ideally suggest ways of doing it better nation by nation and on an international level as well.”
“Brazil is at the epicenter of the international debate and concerns about climate management under regimes that flirt with authoritarian practices,” Mauricio Moura, an applied expert on the project research team, said. “The future of South American prosperity heavily relies upon critical decisions to be faced in the near future under a very polarized political environment.”
The research team will apply the interviewees’ responses and existing data to the model and run simulations for each focus country. The simulations will take into account factors and variables unique to each country and weigh the results against national performance metrics from the last decade. A research report will be released shortly after the grant ends in November and public versions of the game will follow.
“For over a decade we have used political management simulation games to underscore the complexity of decision-making,” Mary Crannell, a GSPM adjunct professor and an applied expert on the research team, said. “This grant gives public sector leaders and private sector leaders a valuable learning tool to rehearse decisions in preparation for the turbulent times ahead.”
GSPM full-time faculty members on the research team include Cornfield, Natalia Dinello, Luis Raul Matos, and Roberto Izurieta. GSPM adjunct professors Crannell and Meagan O’Neill and applied experts Moura, Ximena Hartsock, and Christopher C. Hull are also key contributors to the project.
“Dr. Cornfield has assembled an impressive team of expert researchers to do badly needed work on such a timely issue,” Sean Delehanty, associate director of the APSA Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs, said. “I am tremendously excited by this project’s potential to not only enhance political scientists’ understanding of the policymaking process in both democratic and authoritarian countries, but also to create a valuable public resource that will allow governments, corporations, and individuals to explore different responses to some of the most difficult policy dilemmas we are confronted with.”
The Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University is the first and foremost school of applied politics, advocacy, and communications. For more information, visit gspm.gwu.edu. Connect with GSPM on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @GSPMgwu.
Danny Parra – [email protected]