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