School of Continuing and Professional Studies Faculty Publications

Role-Play Simulations as a Transformative Methodology in Environmental Education

Joseph Chen, DePaul University
Akilah Martin, DePaul University


Knowledge-based environmental education has been consistently found to be limited in its effectiveness due to its small and indirect role in promoting sustainable behavior, while focusing on the impact of social context has been found to be more conceptually relevant. Transformative learning theory is positioned to be foundational to environmental education based on its increasing focus on promoting social activism through personal transformations. We suggest four criteria in the development of an effective transformative environmental education methodology. Methodologies should (1) focus on change and not just knowledge attainment, (2) reveal behaviors in a real-world context, (3) highlight internal and external influences on environmental behavior, and (4) include a problem-solving approach that demands a solution. Role-play simulations addresses these criteria and can influence the perspective change necessary to promote sustainable behavior. We provide one example of this methodology and discuss its potential merits in fostering transformative learning in adult environmental education.