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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 18 | November 15, 2001

Sustainable quest makes public debut

Web, Science World sites for public participation

by Michelle Cook staff writer

Will you recycle this copy of UBC Reports after you've finished reading it, or toss it into the garbage bin? We know that many of the choices we make today will have an impact on our world in the years to come, but would we change the way we do things now if we could peer into the future and see the effects of our choices on society?

On Nov. 28, members of the community will have the chance to help answer that question when the Faculty of Graduate Studies' Sustainable Development Research Institute (SDRI) launches the public participation phase of its Georgia Basin Futures Project (GBFP) at Vancouver's Science World.

Now at its halfway mark, the five-year project is exploring ways of achieving long-term sustainability in the region with the help of a computer-based envisioning tool called QUEST.

With the look and appeal of a computer game, QUEST gets users to enter their individual preferences on housing, transportation, food and energy sources, and other lifestyle choices. It then generates scenarios to show the environmental, social and economic consequences of these decisions.

"QUEST gives people context for the choices they make," says John Robinson, head of the GBFP team. "Over the next two and a half years, our goal is to get tens of thousands of adults and students to play it to provide us with their vision of the region, and a rich picture of the things people care about and what they want and don't want in their future."

Researchers will then have a database, Robinson explains, to determine ways to achieve those scenarios, and give senior decision- makers the information they need to set priorities and policy direction. The analysis will also include a look at whether computer games are an effective way to get people thinking about sustainable development, and change their views and behaviour.

QUEST has been in development since 1994, but the Internet-based game making its debut Nov. 28 is the most comprehensive version yet, with multiple levels of play and hundreds of possible choices.

Anyone with access to the Web can play by visiting the GBFP Web site at www.basinfutures.net. The Georgia Basin Futures Project is funded by a $2.5 million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant, and $3.5 million in cash and contributions from SDRI's community partners including Environment Canada, the Shell Foundation, Science World, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, BC Hydro, the David Suzuki Foundation, the provincial government, and the Vancouver Sun.

More information

Call SDRI at 604-822-8198 or visit www.basinfutures.net.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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