Elizabeth Swensen

Elizabeth Swensen

Assistant Professor of Art and Design: Games + Playable Media
University of California, Santa Cruz

Interdisciplinary Research Mentorship in Serious Play

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Elizabeth Swensen is an Assistant Professor at UC Santa Cruz. Her game design research focuses on metacognitive development outcomes and strategy-based learning in games, taking advantage of the medium’s strength in establishing learning through systems-thinking and social interaction. Her artistic work also explores issues of imposed identity and the powerful role language plays in enforcing that identity.

Most recently, in a collaboration with Assistant Professor Nicole Feldl, Feldl and Swensen are working on a game to teach climate change and atmospheric climate feedbacks as a part of work funded by the National Science Foundation for the proposal: “CAREER: The Lapse Rate Feedback and Other Mechanisms of High-Latitude Climate Change.”

On that project, Swensen and Feldl are developing a game with a team of undergraduate and graduate students, illustrating the complex positive and negative feedbacks associated with the current climate crisis. Including narrative and interactive elements, the game uses a physical climate model on the backend of the project which responds to player action and the escalating warming of the planet. The project is targeting middle school and high school students in order to grow understanding of and a sense of agency with regards to climate change.