A recent op-ed in LiveScience focuses on "EcoChains: Arctic Crisis," a game developed by Barnard environmental science professor Stephanie Pfirman in collaboration with Columbia Prof. Joey Lee. Profs. Pfirman and Lee created this game as a vehicle to teach people about climate change in a way that is as entertaining as it is informational.

In the LiveScience piece, Prof. Pfirman notes that she and Prof. Lee carried out a controlled study in which some people were assigned to play EcoChains, while others were instructed to read an article. In a follow-up study, they found that the people who played the game retained more knowledge about the topic of climate change than those who read the article. The piece also notes that test subjects who played the game reported having more fun and feeling happier than those who read the article.

"It's really hard to teach systems thinking," Prof. Pfirman is quoted as saying in the article. "But because [players are actually taking the actions and they're building the food web themselves, they take away an understanding of the Arctic systems."

Read the full op-ed.

Prof. Pfirman, the Alena Wels Hirschorn ’58 and Martin Hirschorn Professor of Environmental and Applied Sciences, joined Barnard’s faculty in 1993 and serves as co-Chair of the College’s department of environmental science. Her scientific research focuses on the Arctic environment, in particular on the nature and dynamics of Arctic sea ice under changing climate. In 2010, Prof. Pfirman was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences.