What would life without oil be like?  Whether caused by global crisis, natural disaster, or disruptions in access and distribution, life without oil is one of the most important considerations facing man in the 21st century.

First year students at Unity College will gain intimate knowledge of what life without oil means in practice.  A course taken by all first year students entitled The Unity Experience, will begin a six week experiential exploration of life without oil.  The program for the first year students is entitled SpOILed.

A web page with dramatic video that references Hurricane Sandy is online at https://sites.google.com/a/unity.edu/spoiled/.

The end of cheap, abundant petroleum products may be a crisis that today’s college students will face during their lifetimes.

First year students at Unity College will explore what this would mean for their lives by imagining that it has already come to pass.  A course taken by all first year students, entitled The Unity Experience, will begin a six-week alternate reality game in which students make real changes in their lives in response to this simulated crisis.

On Tuesday, October 30, Unity students who are participating will gather in Tozier Gymnasium on the campus of Unity College, 90 Quaker Hill Road, Unity, to begin their odyssey of learning what life without oil means for them.

“Too often, sustainability issues that we lecture about in classrooms seem far away to students,” explained Sarah Cunningham, Assistant Professor.  “They can’t engage with the problem because they don’t see how they can affect it or how it affects them.  We hope that this game will make the issue of resource depletion personal and immediate for our students by relating it to decisions that they make every day.”

Cunningham sees the game as a chance to practice resilience and adaptation in response to crisis, and to learn to work together and plan to solve problems.

She feels these are the kinds of skills that Unity will serve Unity students no matter what the world they live in 20 or 50 years from now is like.

“By making this a game, we also want to add some fun and mystery to what might otherwise be a depressing issue to think about,” Cunningham said.  “Instead of simply reading about how much worse the world will be in the future, students can take immediate action and see how those actions help their community through the feedback of game points.  In the end, we hope that this exercise raises the issue of what really makes a “good life”– Is happiness simply making more money than your parents, or can fulfillment be found in lots of places we don’t usually look?”

The SpOILed web site is online at https://sites.google.com/a/unity.edu/spoiled/.

Unity College is a small private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Monday, October 29, 2012