The Rotunda as seen from the east colonnade

Strategize Environmental Issues: The UVA Bay Game

Date & Time

August 22, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


The Bay Game is a large-scale participatory simulation based on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This hands-on simulation allows players to assume the roles of stakeholders, such as farmers, developers, watermen, and local policymakers, to name a few. In these roles, you will make decisions about your community’s livelihood or regulatory authority, and will see the ripple effect of your decisions on your personal finances, the regional economy, and watershed health.  This simulation exercise brings together people with opposing views of and interests in the economy and environmental sustainability.

Welcome remarks from VCU Rice Rivers Center Director and VCU faculty Greg Garman. The Bay Game’s founders and other faculty will be on hand to share the history of this project, lead group discussions and guide us throughout the day. Come take part in this innovative learning experience!

No previous computer game experience is necessary. Ages 14 and older are welcome for this One-Day UVA program – it is a great opportunity for various generations to learn together and have a great time.

This program takes place at the lovely Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Rivers Center. It is located on 494 acres along the historic James River, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg, Virginia, in the heart of diverse aquatic and terrestrial habitats.


Gerry Learmonth

Research Professor at the University of Virginia

Learmonth’s work involves the modeling and simulation of large, global environmental, economic, and social challenges.  These comprehensive, data-driven simulation models may be linked with role-playing interfaces to create serious games for collaborative learning.  Current efforts include the design and development of the Pearl River Delta Air Quality Game in collaboration with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; a Mass Casualty Incident Planning Game with the UVA Medical Center; and a simulation model to assess the efficacy of policies to address the opioid crisis.   Previous efforts include the Global Food Security Game; a prototype Louisiana Coastal Resilience Game; the Global Sustainable Supply Chain Game; and the UVA Bay Game®.

Learmonth will leave the Batten School and transition to the UVA Data Science Institute in the Fall.   He also holds a secondary appointment in the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences and is a Fellow of the Center for Global Health.  He holds a courtesy appoint in the UVA Department of Systems and Information Engineering where he taught for twelve years.   Prior to UVA, he held faculty appointments at the George Washington University, Boston College, and Dartmouth College.

David Smith

Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Environmental Sciences, Arts & Sciences

Areas of interest include the physiology and ecology of planktonic communities, including predator-prey relationships, trophic interactions at intermediate levels within the food chain, planktonic larval recruitment processes, and the dynamics of gelatinous macrozooplankton.

Recent activity has also focused on the oxygen/nutrient dynamics within Chesapeake Bay, nekton dynamics in tidal freshwater and barrier island environments, as well as innovative ways to transfer scientific information to policy and decision makers.

Greg Garman, Ph.D.

Director, VCU Rice Rivers Center

As director at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, Greg Garman, Ph.D., champions the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.”

“The best science is collaborative science,” said Garman.

Established in 2000, the VCU Rice Rivers Center is an environmental research and education center positioned on 494 acres along the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. “From day one, the primary mission has been to use this amazing location to enhance society’s ability to manage large river systems more effectively,” said Garman, who joined the VCU faculty in 1986 and supported the acquisition and growth of the center.

On his role as director, “I do what I can to expand and promote the research mission,” he said, “ranging from trying to find money to buy new equipment to helping with fundraising to making sure we have the appropriate infrastructure.”

All of that effort ensures the center attracts world-class scientists from other institutions and agencies, who work alongside VCU researchers and graduate students on cutting-edge environmental research to advance the science essential to the search for sustainable balance between the natural environment and human activity. They study everything from watersheds and wetlands to migratory birds and fisheries.

“It’s research that matters,” Garman explained, “because it can be translated into more effective environmental policies.”

A geology major turned fish ecologist, Garman is personally interested in how fish communities interact with their environment, notably the exploited populations including Atlantic sturgeon and American shad that have been fished into decline but have commercial value or angling appeal.

His work appeals to management agencies that have the authority to determine how much effort can be exerted on the stock by setting catch quotas and harvest limits. “The agencies are trying to balance loss from harvest to the population of fish,” Garman said.

He and his graduate students provide them with the biological side of the human-fish interaction. “We might describe individual numbers, size distribution, age of reproduction, how long fish live, how fish move around,” he said.

In a nutshell, the research gives agencies a basis for management and policy decisions.

“You can’t manage what you don’t understand,” Garman said. “My research helps restore and recover those aquatic systems so they can be a resource again.”

About the Bay Game

The UVA Bay Game is a large-scale participatory simulation based on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Game allows players to take the roles of stakeholders, such as farmers, developer, watermen, and local policy-makers, make decisions about their livelihoods or regulatory authority; and see the impacts of their decisions on their own personal finances, the regional economy, and watershed health. It is an adaptable educational and learning tool for raising awareness about watershed stewardship anywhere in the world; a tool for exploring and testing policy choices; and a tool for evaluating new products and services.

The UVA Bay Game has been hailed by federal and state agency, NGO, and corporate and education leaders as “the first of its kind.”

“Unique in its scale, participation, and expertise. Never before have we seen a university-wide, university-supported collaboration of this scale. . . . The UVA Bay Game establishes the intellectual infrastructure that pushes collaboration and understanding between fields forward.” Arizona State University Center for Policy Informatics.

“The UVA Bay Game is simply the best watershed management tool that exists. . . . It is adaptive learning that ultimately allows students to succeed at the game and that will ultimately allow resource managers to succeed in restoring the Bay.” Howard Ernst, professor of political science, US Naval Academy and author of three notable books on the challenges of protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

The UVA Bay Game now serves as a platform for education, research, and policy applications that bridge the virtual and real worlds for watershed conservation.

UVA Bay Game development is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, in partnership with Azure Worldwide, a strategic environmental design, development, and marketing company co-founded by environmentalist and social entrepreneur Philippe Cousteau and UVA environmental sciences alumnus, Andrew Snowhite.

Visit the UVA Bay Game website.

Event Details

Parking is free and available on site, and the venue is fully accessible.

Morning coffee and lunch will be provided.

Laptops will be used to play the game.

If you prefer to bring your own laptop, please check the box on the registration form. Personal laptops simply need a web browser; no specific software is required.

Basic laptops will be provided for those who prefer to borrow.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellation Policy

Participants may cancel their registration for this One-Day UVA program by emailing Cecelia Magargee at   Cecelia will send an email notification confirming your cancellation.

Refund Policy

If Lifetime Learning (via Cecelia) receives a cancellation email before midnight on July 9, 2018, you will receive a refund of 50% of your registration fee.

If Lifetime Learning (via Cecelia) receives a cancellation email after midnight on July 9, 2018, no refund will be issued.