Building Empathy with Spent

Building Empathy with Spent

This is an adapted version of the online game Spent, created by Games 4 Sustainability, for students to play as a group, to build a sense of the challenges facing people living in poverty.

Activity title: Spent Game

Author(s): Harriett Jernigan

Course: PWR 1, PWR 2, or both

Activity length and schedule: There are 30 days in the activity and 30-40 minutes for the collective reflection.

Activity goals: Help students reflect on their associations with the word “poverty” and build understanding and empathy regarding the challenges people face living in poverty.

Activity details:

  • First, do Schema building: what do people associate with the term “poverty?” How easy do you think it is to get out of poverty in America? 
  • Next, place people in pairs or small groups. Have them do the online activity and track their reactions on days 1, 14, 21, and the end of the month. (There’s 30 “days” in the activity)
  • Then have students do a collective reflection in which they respond in writing to the following prompt: How did your understanding of poverty change over the course of the activity? What do you have more empathy for now? 

You will need at least 30-40 minutes for the activity. So instructors will want to decide how they will link the activity to their own themes and content, particularly when shaping the questions for schema building and reflection afterwards.