Urban Science

In Urban Science (the precursor to Land Science), students play the role of urban planning interns tasked with redeveloping a pedestrian mall in Madison, Wisconsin.

To accomplish this task, students receive a city budget plan and letters from community groups that want a say in the redevelopment process. Using a geographic information system model of the region, student teams can explore the effects of changes on various indicators. For example, they can see how a change in zoning to accommodate a large retail store will increase jobs but will also increase waste and traffic.

Using these resources, students must propose a redevelopment plan that is within the city’s budget and satisfies the community groups, many of whom have conflicting demands. This requires students to make compromises and justify their decisions, as no one plan can meet all requests. They then write a final proposal, in which they attempt to convince the community groups and the mayor of Madison that their redevelopment plan will address the city’s needs.

You can learn more about Urban Science in How Computer Games Help Children Learn.

Further Reading

Nash, P., Bagley, E.A., & Shaffer, D.W. (2012). Playing for public interest: Epistemic games as civic engagement activities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Vancouver, BC.

Nash, P. & Shaffer, D.W. (2012). Epistemic youth development: Educational games as youth development activities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Vancouver, BC.

Bagley, E. & Shaffer, D.W. (2011). Promoting civic thinking through epistemic game play. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Discoveries in gaming and computer-mediated simulations: New interdisciplinary applications, (pp. 111-127). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Bagley, E. (2010). The epistemography of an urban and regional planning practicum: Appropriation in the face of resistance. WCER Working Paper 2010-8. Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bagley, E. & Shaffer, D.W. (2009). When people get in the way: Promoting civic thinking through epistemic game play. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations 1(1): 36-52.

Beckett, K. & Shaffer, D.W. (2005). Augmented by reality: The pedagogical praxis of urban planning as a pathway to ecological thinking. Journal of Educational Computing Research 33(1): 31-52.

GAPS is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.