Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fire in the Forest?

Fire in the Forest is a role play simulation designed to stimulate a fresh and wider understanding of the global significance of the Amazon and the urgent need to address its problems.

Who is the intended audience?

Fire in the Forest can be played with participants at various levels of maturity and familiarity with the issues involved. The simulation is designed for the following groups:

  • middle and high school through all college and university settings
  • government agencies
  • corporations
  • religious organizations
  • citizen groups

In secondary schools, mixed student and adult participation, as a community event, can be most successful.

What materials are included?

Fire in the Forest curriculum unit provides everything you need to run the simulation, including the following.

  • 40 role booklet pdf files which can be either printed on paper or viewed digitally (via browsers online or PDF readers on computers, laptops, and mobile devices.) These booklets describe the background of a character, initial position on issues, and instructions for all three sessions.
  • A 100+ page facilitator’s manual which includes instructions and all additional digital files needed to prepare for and run the simulation, whether in person or remotely.
What themes and skills are integrated?

Themes and skills of Fire in the Forest include:

  • Protection of the natural environment, particularly the biodiversity and land of the Amazon rainforest
  • Protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, their land, culture, livelihood and way of life
  • Equitable allocation of natural resources, land management, social justice, economic opportunity and the alleviation of poverty
  • Governance, maintenance of law and order, furtherance of national goals and objectives and resolution of disputes among parties with conflicting agendas
  • Debt relief for developing nations
  • Conflict resolution, the recognition of the validity of different points of view, and the will and skills to resolve them
  • Negotiating skills in the context of both large and small meetings
  • Media skills
What relevant subject areas are included?

If the Fire in the Forest is held in a corporate or university setting with well-developed departmental structures, the following is a partial list of relevant subjects. In addition, the facilitator should check to see if the institution has certification or graduation requirements such as, e.g. global learning, sustainability or global education which could academically benefit students involved in the role-play.

  • Environmental Studies
  • Land Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Negotiation
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Economics
  • Forestry
  • International Law
  • International Finance
  • Social Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Philosophy
  • Government
  • Education
  • Indigenous Studies
  • International Trade and Business
How much time is required?

In its most basic form, Fire in the Forest can be presented in as little as three hours. There are four distinct periods:

  • Role Play Session One
  • Role Play Session Two
  • Role Play Session Three
  • Debriefing, Discussion, and Evaluation

Each session can be completed in 40–50 minutes. How you choose to deploy the simulation depends on your circumstances. Implementing the simulation through a series of instructional periods, as a unit within a larger course, or in its entirety via a workshop setting are all worthwhile.

While Fire in the Forest can be run in a single session, there are many reasons why stretching the activity over a week or more is educationally advantageous, if you have the opportunity to do so. Longer times between simulation sessions reduce stress on the participants and also gives more time for preparation and also for discussion and coordination between the members of each negotiating team.

How many participants are needed?

While Fire in the Forest can accommodate 40 players, a minimum of 16 participants are required. Smaller groups can operate with a reduced number of players, known as essential roles, without compromising the learning objectives of the experience. Another option is to join with another class.

Can I run the simulation with small classes?

Yes. To run Fire in the Forest with a single class, check the instructions for the "essential role list" to see if you can staff all the positions. If not, consider co-listing the course with another department. Co-listing brings the advantages of more students and a wider field of faculty expertise to draw upon for background preparation and advisement.

How long will it take to prepare my students?

The amount of time required to prepare your students for Fire in the Forest depends on the course you are teaching and the level of awareness of your class. There are many issues and disciplines involved. Some obvious major areas are environmental protection, sustainable resource use, indigenous rights and culture, poverty and the role of government policy in addressing all of these areas. As the facilitator, it is up to you to choose which aspects you wish to emphasize and to generate enthusiasm in your students.

If you are running the non-workshop format, it would be best to schedule the Fire in the Forest near the end of your course. Then you will have plenty of time for preliminary assignments and to hold discussions that will prepare students for the role play.

What technical resources are required?

Fire in the Forest can be deployed in a variety of ways depending on different settings, schedules, and technological resources available. This allows a flexible approach to meet any educational challenge and to adapt the simulation as needed.

  • The interactive pdf materials are readily printed and/or distributed, and can be used on any digital device.
  • The vital communications and teamwork processes can take place in person or remotely by phone, texting, chat, and/or live video streaming.
  • For larger schools, learning management systems such as Blackboard or Canvas can be used to coordinate messaging.
Running the Simulation
If I need advice, can I call a "hot line"?

Yes, there are e-mails and phone numbers available to set up appointments for both the workshop and college/university course level versions of the simulation.

What are players likely to get out of the experience?

Besides familiarization with a complex and globally significant environmental issue, there are many other valuable skills they can gain by participating in Fire in the Forest. A few examples are:

  • being able to understand and accept points of view different from one's own
  • negotiating skills in searching for common ground in an issue with many stakeholders
  • understanding the importance of individual actions in a wider community context

This question is discussed in detail in the introduction. An evaluation form is included and should be used after the debriefing. This helps the players to formulate and write down their experiences.

Can I change the simulation roles or teams?

No. The teams and roles in Fire in the Forest are fixed. They represent vital points of view and levels of experience, designed to fit as closely as possible the reality of the actual situations. That said, there are certain roles deemed essential to maintaining the structural integrity of the simulation. These roles are clearly indicated in the facilitator's manual. Other non-essential roles can be eliminated if you lack sufficient participants.

If your organization is interested in a simulation to meet your specific goals, the design team is available to construct a simulation to meet your needs.

What about disruptive students or cliques?

Fire in the Forest is serious undertaking, requiring a lot of self-control for students. And yes, we all have to deal with disruptive, attention-seeking students and cliques that inhabit our classrooms.

Quite simply, it is a matter of redirecting these energies into the roles of the simulation. One of your most important tasks is finding a way to matching the roles with their best portrayers. Also, the choices for team leaders, e.g. government representatives and settlers, need to have the skills to inspire the team members to work together. We have never had a simulation fail because of internal dissention among the players.

In the facilitator's manual you will find our collective expertise for assigning players to roles and teams. One of the dynamic ways of choosing roles is to have a "role auction" where you literally auction off the roles like an auctioneer.

What outcome should I expect for my group?

Whatever outcome is reached!

There are no right answers here. The outcome of a Fire in the Forest simulation run emerges from the unique mix of skills participants bring to the negotiations. It is tempting to want to script a happy ending where everyone is satisfied, but this result may not occur. If the participants can seek common ground on some of the issues and begin to build some bridges of understanding, that would be a step in the right direction.

Under no circumstance should the facilitator intervene to shape the sessions. The facilitator is neutral and will have to advise each team according to its position in the simulation, even if they view that position as unfavorable to their own feelings and values. In other words, the results at the end of the simulation will provide a lot of material for additional discussions both on a personal and team level.

During the debriefing and discussions that follow the simulation, all the players can reflect on whatever outcome was reached and the reasons that led up to it. This is the time to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of the teams' and individual players' approaches and explore what alternative outcomes might have been possible.

Purchasing the Simulation
How much does it cost?

Single user licenses of Fire in the Forest can be purchased by teachers and facilitators for $99. Discounts of 10 – 30% are available for multiple-user site licenses. (See shopping cart for more details.) Please contact us for licenses greater than 10 users.

Can I use the simulation more than once?

Yes, once you have purchased Fire in the Forest, it is yours to use as often as you wish.