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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Khaldoun AbouAssi (American University) & Tina Nabatchi (Syracuse University)

August 2017


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a role play designed to illuminate the challenges of collaboration for addressing wicked problems. The role play requires actors from six organizations to come together to discuss the possibilities for creating a collaborative governance regime to address the problem of the Garbage Patch. The role play can be used in a broad range of courses, including but not limited to public administration, public policy, political science, conflict resolution, collaboration, and international relations, among others. In terms of collaboration, the role play can be used to help students understand and analyze the system context, drivers of collaboration, the initiation and formation of collaborative governance regimes, and the challenges of developing a shared theory of change. The role play can also be used to help students identify positions and interests, understand the role of values in conflict situations, and develop skills and capacities in conflict analysis and resolution, negotiation, facilitation, and collaboration. In terms of other substantive areas, the role play allows students to experience issues such as international policy making; decision making; personal, organizational, and policy ethics; and leadership and teamwork.