The Social Rules Project at Harvey Mudd College

Newswise – Paul Steinberg, professor of political science and environmental policy at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., Pursued an unconventional approach to creatively push environmental education, scholarship and awareness into de interesting new directions. His research and teaching focus on global environmental policies, with particular emphasis on biodiversity conservation and environmental policies in developing countries. “At the broadest level,” he says, “I’m interested in how different societies around the world are responding to environmental issues.

His latest initiative has resulted in new online learning resources for high school teachers, advanced students and college students.

Steinberg, who holds the Malcolm Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society at Harvey Mudd, has written a new book, Who rules the Earth? How social rules shape our planet and our lives, published by Oxford University Press on March 6. The book is part of something much larger: The Social Rules Project, an interactive multimedia initiative and online teaching and learning tool, developed by Steinberg and created with the help of students. , which explores the institutional dimensions of environmental problems. Steinberg traveled to New Orleans in February to receive the Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching in International Studies Award 2015 for her work on The Social Rules Project: the https://www.hmc.edu/about-hmc/2015/02/23/steinberg-receives-gerner-award-innovative-teaching/

“The Social Rules Project is the result of the efforts of 100 students from Claremont Colleges and the California Institute of the Arts who have created an animated short, a video game on the institutional dimensions of tropical conservation and a website with a variety of other free educational resources, ”says Steinberg. “Artists, computer programmers, environmental studies students, musicians and many more have dedicated countless hours to making this material available. He says the goal of the project is to raise awareness about the institutional foundations of environmental problems and what it will take to solve them.

“From national policies to engineering design standards, social rules are the constraints that make coordinated human activity possible,” says Steinberg. “The Social Rules Project is an educational initiative by Harvey Mudd College that reveals how social rules, or ‘institutions’, shape our planet and our lives. According to Steinberg, few concepts are more central to political science than institutions – the enduring “rules of the game” that underpin society. “As might be expected,” he says, “institutional analysis plays a prominent role in teaching and research in the field of environmental policy, exploring how institutions shape the perspectives of sustainable and equitable approaches to the governance of energy, natural resources, pollution and the economy. development. “

However, the concept of “institutions” is quite difficult for students and the general public to understand, notes Steinberg. “Unlike usual environmental science topics, you can’t place a ruler in a child’s hand for inspection, show it to a group of tourists on safari, or mix it up in a test tube,” he says. he. “The rules we live by are invisible to our most powerful satellites and microscopes, but have a profound impact on the relationship between people and the planet. Teachers have few resources at their disposal to demystify the concept.

To address this shortcoming, over the past four years he has focused on developing and leading the Social Rules Project, involving over 100 students from six Southern California colleges in the creation of multimedia materials. describing what institutions are and why they are important. for durability.

The result is an animated film, video game, social media website, interactive “institutional landscapes” and a Facebook discussion group. All materials are available free online; they are designed to help make the concept of institutions, or ‘social rules’, accessible to a wide range of students, teachers and advanced secondary school students, especially those enrolled in social science courses and of Environmental Sciences, to undergraduate students. and Ph.D. students in fields such as environmental studies, public policy, political science, sociology, anthropology, history and economics.

Animated film – Who rules the Earth? This short film tells the story of a young Latin woman who is determined to uncover the forces that harm the environment in her community. She quickly discovers how the rules affect everything from the use of pesticides to the preservation of the wilderness and the right to free speech. The film premiered at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January 2014 and is currently on tour as part of that festival. Who rules the Earth? received the award for best student film at the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival in July 2014.

Video game – Law of the jungle. Law of the Jungle is part of a genre known as “serious games,” which use the popular video game platform for educational purposes. This ambitious role-playing game (with more than 10,000 lines of code) was developed over a period of three years by ten computer and visual arts students from Claremont Colleges.

The Social Rules Project website was created by five Harvey Mudd undergraduates working over a three-year period. “The goal is to provide a single, continuously updated online location for our multimedia educational tools so that instructors can easily access and direct these resources to these resources,” notes Steinberg.

Facebook page and group. Although online education is often touted as a way of bridging geography, Steinberg says he’s drawn to its benefits in extending the time dimension of education: building communities of learners who persist beyond the unique classroom experience. “In January 2014, I gathered a team of six students to tell me about Facebook, with the aim of launching a page and a discussion group presenting research and actions on the institutional dimensions of sustainability”, he said. “I then invited all of my current and former students to join, and we now have about 400 members at both sites, including a dozen professors.”

Steinberg Faculty webpage: https://www.hmc.edu/hsa/hsa-faculty/paul-steinberg/ More information on his new book: http://bit.ly/1vTXpL8

A link to the social rules project: http://www.paulsteinberg.org/the-social-rules-project/ and the Guide for educators of the project: http://www.rulechangers.org/

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About Marjorie C. Hudson

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