In 2020, a huge amount of effort and ingenuity has gone into creating COVID-safe, online versions of previously in-person experiences. At the Walker Institute, we're embracing technology to make sure that vital training can continue, despite the current restrictions.
As part of this process, we have developed a fully-online version of the CAULDRON game; an interactive training experience that teaches players about the pressures and challenges faced by farmers and other stakeholders when making decisions around food systems.
After extensive testing, this new, online version of the CAULDRON game had its first live session as part of the induction for the FoodBioSystems Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). 30 PhD students from six universities took part in the session, assuming the roles of farmers, climate scientists and negotiators in different countries across the African continent. Players had to make tough decisions on farming strategies, attempting to build up sufficient food stocks while always being at the mercy of the weather, possible climate change impacts and other production shocks, both natural and economic. They then had to form a negotiated agreement, balancing regional needs with their own national interests.
The online version of the game was a great success with some heated gameplay and very lively negotiations! "Thank you so much for working with us today," said Lisa Methven, Director of the FoodBioSystems DTP, "our students loved it as I am sure you could see."
While we sincerely hope that in-person training sessions will become increasingly possible in the near future, the benefits of online training are certainly not limited to the times of COVID. Online experiences allow participants to join sessions from anywhere in the world and we look forward to developing a number of new online training opportunities through the Walker Academy in 2021 and beyond.