1 University of Thessaly (GREECE)
2 Latvian Academy of Culture (LATVIA)
3 Tallinn University (ESTONIA)
4 Virtual Campus (PORTUGAL)
5 University of Vigo (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Page: 8652 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.1717
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
The responsible management of natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals, forests, and biodiversity has a direct impact on the preservation of the natural environment and the quality of life of present and future generations. It creates a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. It leads to the well-being of people and communities, the preservation of jobs, and the protection of biodiversity. Sustainable natural resource management is of high priority in the 21st century as it can contribute to the avoidance of land degradation, the avoidance of desertification, the mitigation of climate change, and more. It is included in UN sustainability goals, along with goals such as sustainable cities and communities, responsible production and consumption, climate action, life in land, and life under water.

Achieving sustainable natural resource management starts with awareness-raising and education. Society is faced with climate change, the rise of temperatures, and the destruction of habitats with direct consequences on biodiversity presentation as well as the long-term health of natural ecosystems. In this context it is imperative to develop educational initiatives that prepare the young generation to become responsible, active adults in relation environmental sustainability in all aspects of life in the industry and communities. Raising a young generation that adopts responsible natural resources management requires the development of scientific and technical knowledge on the function of ecosystems and the life supporting effects of those. It further requires critical and analytical thinking, innovative mindsets for designing environmentally sound solutions, and ability to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams. While digital tools do exist for contributing to natural resources management more can be done for enriching environmental education through digital technologies.

This work presents an experiential learning intervention based on digital learning games for building the capacity of students to adopt responsible behaviour on natural resources management and to design solutions for environmental sustainability in everyday and professional activities. The proposed learning intervention builds awareness on the importance of sustainable natural resources management for the well-being of communities and plant and animal species, develops theoretical knowledge and practical skills that empower students to become active citizens designing environmentally sustainable solutions, and promotes soft skills that foster innovative mindsets that help students become the problem-solvers of tomorrow towards sustainable practices in the industry and society.

The proposed game enables students to experiment with scenarios inspired by real-life. Students are encouraged to undertake the role of stewards of natural ecosystems in a manner that would not be possible in an off-line physical laboratory. They are challenged to design solutions that maintain the balance of environment preservation, economic activity, and quality of life. The game introduces clear learning objectives, interesting roles, rich actions that students may undertake to design environmentally sustainable solutions, and feedback that helps reinforce knowledge.

The work is implemented in the context of project Nature, which is funded by the Erasmus+ program and is implemented from 2021 to 2023.
Serious games, sustainability, natural resources management.