Minecraft Map Makes Sustainability Tangible for Students

Minecraft’s Sustainable City

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

As a way to “see” into the future using Microsoft’s annual sustainability report as a guide, the developers of the popular game Minecraft designed an entire interactive city based on it. The Minecraft sustainable city map teaches players how to create environmentally friendly urban areas in the real world. It features six lessons that are “designed to give students a sense of stewardship for the planet,” according to a press release.  These lessons include sustainable food production, water treatment, forestry, and recycling. Through this city model, students can see the way farms, grocery stores, waste facilities, and recycling plants will ideally work together in the future.

Why this Matters:  If you can see it, then you can make it so.  The fact that this interactive sustainable city is on Minecraft’s educational platform means it is being seen by millions of students who can only interact with classrooms virtually. Microsoft has stated that over 35 million students and educators are licensed to use the platform.  As Mojang, the game developer put it in a press release: “These lessons are designed to show sustainable processes at work in our daily lives and illustrate how some of the goals and themes in Microsoft’s Annual Sustainability Report might show up in a Minecraft world.”

Illustrating Microsoft’s Sustainability Goals

This virtual sustainable city is a great way for students to get a tangible sense of what a sustainable future can look like. The lessons allow students to explore questions like “Where does outflow go once it goes down a drain,” by jumping into a kitchen sink and following the pipes, or lifting a pothole and exploring the sewers.

Though there is no mention of Microsoft in the city, Mojang’s Minecraft map was meant to represent Microsoft’s annual sustainability goals. Microsoft released some results from its “10-year strategy to become carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste, and develop a planetary computing platform.”

According to this report, Microsoft has secured 1 million metric tons of carbon removal through forest and soil conservation projects, and invested 700 times more in water replenishment projects, fully funding 20 projects that will bring the company closer to water positivity. The company also diverted 60,000 metric tons of waste from landfills, while also partnering with conservation groups to protect endangered ecosystems.

That said, Microsoft has yet to approach its goal of becoming carbon and water negative by 2030, and has continued to license its software to oil companies, which undermines its attempts to become more environmentally friendly. Still, this Minecraft project is a great educational tool for students and teachers looking to imagine how society can coexist with nature more sustainably.

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