COVID-19 Safety Information

Bulletin News

College Tries an Extreme Learning Adventure


Extreme weather related to climate change has become a frequent and pressing issue in today’s news. The resulting flooding is likely to affect communities like Cortland in the years to come.

Will you know how to help your community when the waters rise?

A new, hands-on event on how to respond to major flooding is coming to SUNY Cortland on Thursday, Feb. 28. The Institute for Civic Engagement will hold an extreme weather simulation from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Corey Union’s Exhibition Lounge.

The interactive simulation is free and open to all students, faculty, staff and members of the greater Cortland community.  It is primarily aimed at educating SUNY Cortland students of every major on how to handle an extreme situation like a flood.

In this simulation, participants must figure out a way to save the people of fictional River City and minimize damage by working together with the members of their team. River City is split into multiple neighborhoods called Clearwater, Waterview, Meadowland, Lakeshore, Riverside and Downtown. Team members must trade and utilize resources to help protect the citizens from the impending flood while also dealing with the obstacles that are presented.

“There are no right or wrong answers, only results,” said Kathie Arnold of Truxton, N.Y., a community participant who co-owns and operates Twin Oaks Organic Dairy farm, located about nine miles northeast of SUNY Cortland. “You have to interact with your community members and trade resource cards to complete your task chart in order to save your town from the flood. Depending on what resources you keep and what you trade leads to the result of how effectively that you help the city.”

The format for the simulation was created by LabX, a partner of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alyssa Porter, 13, attends Homer Jr. High School. Arnold is Porter’s mentor and together they went to the Institute for Civic Engagement’s deliberative dialogue about climate change on Oct. 25. The energetic Porter discovered LabX’s hands-on simulation and pitched it to the Institute as a way to continue the discussion of climate change.

“We were talking about how global warming and climate change are affecting us, so I thought why not do a simulation to show kids my age how it affects us, so we learn it at a younger age and so it affects our generation longer,” Porter said. “Then maybe we can make an impact at our age now and older.”

John Suarez, the College’s service learning coordinator and director of the Institute, and Matthew Brubaker, campus energy manager, helped create this event. They also collaborated with Ryann Hudson, a junior political science major from Northport, N.Y., and Kerry Donnelly, a sophomore communication studies major from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The College has held similar events, including a poverty simulation in which attendees took on roles of people living with few resources and were forced to find ways to make ends meet. The Institute has also held many deliberative dialogues where groups of people come together to discuss social issues in a civil and informed way to help further address the problems.

“One of the lessons is just how complex that a situation like this is and how a student can determine for themselves how their own field of study relates to something like this,” Suarez said.

To register for this event, email John Suarez. Attendance will be capped at 42 people.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Skyeler Paparteys