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Emerson College’s Engagement Lab launches Climate Smart Boston

Media contact: Carole McFall, 617-824-8415,

(March 29, 2016) BOSTON, MA—An online game developed by Emerson College’s Engagement Lab, in collaboration with the City of Boston’s Greenovate Boston, World Wildlife Fund, and The Boston Harbor Association is seeking community feedback on climate preparedness in Greater Boston. The game, titled Climate Smart Boston, uses the Engagement Lab’s signature game platform Community PlanIt to engage residents in climate-related topics. Climate Smart Boston will run online through April 15, 2016. The sign-up page is live at

By answering the game’s “challenge” questions and communicating with other players, residents of Greater Boston will be providing valuable input into the planning process as City officials seek to make sure all Boston neighborhoods are physically, socially, and economically resilient, especially in the face of climate change. A summary report of key findings from player input will be publicly available in late May 2016. The combined commitment of the Engagement Lab and all of its partners is to provide open-source access to data that emerges from the work, to be used by anyone in the civic, academic, or digital activist community.

Christina Wilson, project lead for Community PlanIt at Emerson’s Engagement Lab, which launched Climate Smart Boston on Friday, March 25, says the Community PlanIt platform broadens the diversity of community input on complex social issues. “People who might not typically attend a town hall meeting, especially youth, might be more inclined to share their opinions online and actively participate in the discussion about how the City should plan to address the impacts of climate change. Through gameplay, they’re given a voice in the planning and decision-making processes that can positively impact their communities,” said Wilson.

City of Boston officials want to make sure the distinct needs of all neighborhoods across a range of areas—including climate and resilience challenges—are well understood to help inform their planning process for Imagine Boston 2030, a citywide vision for Boston. Beyond the planning phase, through Greenovate Boston, the City seeks to engage all Bostonians in helping meet climate and sustainability goals.

World Wildlife Fund, which is funding Climate Smart Boston, selected Boston as the pilot city for the initiative. “Boston is a leading city in addressing climate change,” said Kevin Taylor, senior specialist for local engagement at World Wildlife Fund, which plans to implement the game platform in other cities to assess climate change preparedness in communities across the nation. “We were familiar with Emerson’s Engagement Lab game platform and thought it would be an innovative and effective way to engage people around climate change, so there’s been great synergy in the partnership with the Lab and the City of Boston to pilot Climate Smart Boston,” said Taylor.

While providing input on climate related topics, participants of Climate Smart Boston will also be competing for $1,500 in funding for local community projects. New participants to the game can join at any time during the three weeks the game is online. Each week will focus on a different area:

  • March 25 – April 1: Climate and Our World
  • April 1 – April 8: Climate and Our City
  • April 8 – April 15: Climate and Ourselves

“Community PlanIt is a new opportunity to engage in the City’s climate preparedness planning efforts by sharing your experiences and providing feedback on your priorities,” said the City of Boston’s Climate Preparedness Program Manager Mia Goldwasser. “The City is developing a long-term vision to guide comprehensive planning, and working to better understand the climate change impacts it may face. This game is a new way to engage in those processes, and an added bonus is that your engagement also helps to fund local community projects.” 

On Saturday, May 14, The Boston Harbor Association, which has hosted several in-person community events as part of the the overall public input gathering process that includes Climate Smart Boston, will host a live finale event (location to be announced). Preliminary outcomes from the game will be shared and top players recognized and awarded. Participants can also find out which local school or organization’s “causes” received the most “coins” from game participants and will be awarded funding for a project that will be implemented in the coming months. The top three player-proposed projects in the game will each receive $500 in prize money.

“The City of Boston is engaged right now in the challenge of protecting our people and places from climate change-related flooding and extreme weather,” said Julie Wormser, executive director of The Boston Harbor Association. “Community PlanIt: Climate Smart Boston is a great way to engage more people in this important conversation.”

About the Engagement Lab                                                                                                                    

The Engagement Lab is an applied research lab at Emerson College, focusing on the development and study of games, technology, and new media to enhance civic life. The Lab works directly with its partner communities to design and facilitate civic engagement processes, augment stakeholder deliberation, and broaden the diversity of participants in local decision-making. For more information, visit the website.

About Greenovate Boston

Greenovate Boston is a community-driven movement to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, as outlined in the City’s Climate Action Plan. By laying out the necessary steps to reduce the causes of and to prepare for climate change, the Climate Action Plan gives Greenovate Boston a framework for building a greener, healthier, and more prosperous city. We’re making progress on climate action through our initiatives, made possible through programs and partnerships. Find out more about our work at

About World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) develops tools to assess climate vulnerability and build capacity among our partners to develop climate-smart approaches to conservation. For example, we have developed a trait-based climate vulnerability assessment to update action plans for WWF priority species, and in Asia’s High Mountains, we’re working to improve watershed management and enhance the resilience of local communities to the impacts of climate change. Visit our website,

About Emerson College                                                                                                               
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. The College has an active network of 32,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit

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