S&T Office Tokyo, Embassy of Switzerland / Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Swiss workshop on sustainability sparks enthusiasm among Japanese students

The “Sarnetz – Simulation-Game Energia 2020” introduced by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) was unveiled in Japan for the first time as an online experience where students could learn about Swiss efforts and commitment towards sustainability. The workshop attended by professors and students from six universities throughout Japan created positive resonance and may lead to the Swiss case study being taught at Japanese universities.

I have learned which concrete measures are necessary for carbon neutrality.

“I have learned which concrete measures are necessary for carbon neutrality,” a 3rd year undergraduate student of Osaka University commented after joining the workshop on sustainability. Although she has previously gained theoretical knowledge about various technologies and actions fostering CO2 reduction, she was not aware how these were applied in real life, and concluded: “As we could play this game on the basis of an actual village, we have understood how these measures function in a city.” And a fellow student wrote: “I would like to participate again if there is such an opportunity.”

The two students attended one of six workshops titled “An entire CO2 Neutral Region?” which were organized for Japanese undergraduate students by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) and the Science & Technology Office Tokyo, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan between September 21 and October 1, 2021. A total of 62 undergraduate students enrolled at Sophia University, the University of Tsukuba, Kansai University, Osaka University, Tohoku University and Hiroshima University were part of this experience.

In each event, two teams competed in a real case simulation to turn the Swiss mountain village Zernez into a carbon-free region on a digital board game. While every participant took a role representing the municipal council, the inhabitants or the energy supplier of Zernez, the students mapped out strategies in groups. Different measures had to be implemented to completely reduce the CO2 emissions and to increase the locally produced renewable energy in the village by applying various sustainable energy systems at the lowest possible cost. Prof. Dr. Uwe Schulz, Officer International Relations at School of Engineering and Architecture at HSLU, analyzed each group’s solutions, and provided feedback together with a Japanese professor at the end.

After the workshops, HSLU also received positive feedback from the Japanese professors who invited their students. “This board game was very attractive and it seems the students wanted to continue playing,” Prof. Mamiko Fujiyama of Tohoku University stated. It was exciting for her to watch how “the students have found some challenging strategies in a short time.” Like Prof. Fujiyama, other participating universities are currently considering to integrate the digital board game into their curriculum in a collaboration with HSLU.

The workshops are based on the project Zernez Energia 2020 led by an interdisciplinary research team of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) together with private partners. Prof. Schulz of HSLU transformed this real case simulation into an educational tool in order to raise awareness of the important topic of sustainability and sustainable energy systems. He has been hosting workshops around the physical board game since 2016 in Switzerland as well as during the exhibition Astana Expo in Kazakhstan in 2017.

The events in Japan took place for the first time in a purely virtual setting, and will continue for students and visitors of the House of Switzerland at the Expo 2020 Dubai, U.A.E. Prof. Dr. Richard Wetzel of HSLU (School of Computer Science and Information Technology) is the head of project “Digitization of energy board game Zernez” who developed the digital version of the board game together with his team from the Immersive Realities Research Lab.

S&T Office Tokyo, Embassy of Switzerland / Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts