Global Consensus Is a Dream, but Twitter Is Real: Simulating a Sustainable Development Goals Summit Through Interdisciplinary Classroom Politics and Negotiation by Social Media

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Rio+20 saw commitment from the international community to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to shape the global efforts towards sustainable development. As part of an interdisciplinary curriculum innovation module at the University of Southampton, students take part in a ‘SDGs Summit’. Interdisciplinary student groups represent nation ‘blocs’ attempting to reach consensus on six priority SDGs, from a starting set of sixteen, through personal and social media negotiation. The exercise requires students to inhabit the perspectives of different ‘blocs’, challenging them to extend their understanding and application of sustainable development beyond their own discipline. This paper shares best practice on this innovative vehicle for teaching students the complexities surrounding international political negotiation and agreement where the outcomes will have differing social, economic and environmental consequences for the ‘blocs’, depending on their economic prosperity, natural resources, states of development, and political ideologies. The paper also explores how the summit incorporates the challenges around inequality of access and influence on the global negotiating platform. The adaptation of existing simulation and negotiation pedagogies to address current global political concerns and the use of Twitter in the classroom is considered to be a suitable approach to address the complex interdisciplinary subject area of sustainable development. Although initially focused at ESD practitioners, the interdisciplinary, social media and international focus of the SDGs Summit renders this approach relevant for pedagogical innovators and students across the globe.


Education Sustainable development Curriculum Sustainable development goals Simulation Gaming Twitter 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Centre for Innovation in Technologies and EducationUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Maritime and Technology FacultySouthampton Solent UniversitySouthamptonUK
  5. 5.Centre for Learning and TeachingUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  6. 6.Southampton Education SchoolUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  7. 7.Environment and Sustainability InstituteUniversity of ExeterCornwallUK

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