iCREST Four Pillar Proof of Concept

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Four Pillars PoC

From iCREST's perspective, the foundational knowledge for coping with the challenges facing society and the Earth's life-support system revolves around four major skill sets: environmental and sustainability literacy skills; skills in modeling, simulation and visualization from large data sets; storytelling with narrative skills; and community advocacy skills. To test the viability of this concept as a framework for engaging and empowering youth, iCREST is partnering with the Paradise Creek Nature Park (PCNP) of the Elizabeth River Project (ERP) for a “Pillars Proof-of-Concept (PPoC)&rdou; program to be initiated in the summer and fall of 2019. Under the supervision of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) of Old Dominion University, the PPoC will involve high school students and teachers from selected high schools in the Hampton Roads area. The project is supported by a MARI graduate student with online tools created for the project by Hans-Peter Plag, Director of MARI, the PPoC lead and iCREST Board member. Further support comes from the iCREST Board Members and the ICES Foundation.

  • Environmental and sustainability literacy skills

    iCREST sees these as the capabilities to stay abreast of the interaction between nature and society, building them onto an ethical value basis, analyzing and interpreting relevant evidence while accounting for cognitive biases, and making informed and evidence-based decisions regarding environmental and sustainability issues and trade-offs, fostering a populace capable of safeguarding the planet's life-support system. iCREST wants its participants to have the skills to stay engaged and relevant as circumstances change.

  • Modeling, simulation and visualization

    For iCREST this refers to the use, development and critical assessment of computer-based decision-support tools for Earth sustainability problem solving and systems thinking, drawing in relevant geographic, environmental, social and other data to numerical models and thus grappling with “what-if” questions and “wicked” problem scenarios. Thanks to technology and considerable research, a new generation of intuitive easy-to-use modeling tools easily grasped by kids, such as SageModeler, are available to support this skill set.

  • Storytelling and narrative skills

    iCREST appears to be unique among environmental literacy programs in its focus on storytelling and narrative skills. While students may learn science in school, they almost never learn strategies for effective communication of project results. Methods in use since the days of “Beowulf,” and “The Odyssey,” and now staples of TV and movie screenwriting, recognize how to create engaging story arcs and can be applied to iCREST projects to rescue their reports from the dullness and esoterica too often associated with science communications.

  • Community advocacy skills

    Telling effectively an interesting story is only a start. If key decision makers and influencers are not persuaded to make important changes then little is accomplished. Hence, iCREST's fourth pillar is the ability to communicate and advocate positions concerning a sustainable relationship between humans and the Earth's life-support system with convincing, memorable, and engaging skill, to empower participants to effectively reach peers and significant members of their communities, to counter unsupported arguments of those who would ignore and deny emerging issues, challenges, and possible solutions, and persuade decision makers to make meaningful change.


The iCREST.education initiative of the International Centre for Earth Simulation (ICES) is dedicated to building Earth sustainability and resilience literacy among K-12 age youngsters worldwide, starting with high schoolers in the US. iCREST stands for an “Intergenerational Collaboration for a Remarkable Earth and Sustainable Tomorrows.” The goal is to empower youth to better understand and cope with the planet's increasingly challenged life support system, which they're inheriting. iCREST aims to enable youth to examine sustainability and resilience choices using systems thinking as well as data and models in their own context. Supported with narrative and story-telling skills, they become effective advocates for sensible solutions enabled to communicate with relevant decision makers and influencers. Recognizing that sustainability in every aspect of society emerges from decisions from local to global levels and from the past to the future, iCREST seeks to engage youth in intergenerational and, eventually, international, teams to identify and work to address problems relevant to them. Through its multipronged focus, iCREST aims to enable its youthful participants to contribute to community wellbeing and grow to be wise, civically engaged adults.

iCREST is aiming to provide a web-based system that allows young people to explore collaborative the question “What's the sustainability of my community as indicated by data and model predictions?” This tool will help them tell the story of their findings and advocate for meaningful change. Their focus might range from school, neighborhood or park to larger regions or social entities. Sustainability or resilience issues studied might concern, for example, potable water, land use, ecosystem health, energy sources, transportation, food security, flood and fire management, and social issues.

International Centre for Earth Simulation

iCREST is an initiative of the International Centre for Earth Simulation (ICES) Foundation, a non-profit Swiss organization embracing resilience, sustainability, ecology, and holistic modeling. The Foundation is an independent, non-political and non-commercial Geneva-based entity that was created in 2010 for the purpose of attracting finances to build and operate the Swiss-based ICES, and to build a global network of partner activities to support it. ​

The mission of the Foundation is to integrate the vast pools of knowledge contained within today's multitude of scientific and socio-economic specializations and to develop next generation 'holistic' modeling, simulation and visualizations that accurately depict the medium- and long-term future direction of planet Earth.

The Foundation is a project for the common good that provides enhanced decision support and improved scientific underpinnings to our current and future policy makers, especially with respect to the effects of climate change, extreme weather, geoengineering, resource depletion, fresh water availability, food security, public health & safety, earthquake, tsunami, landslide, volcanic and other hazard reduction and mitigation.

The Foundation has been formed as a Public-Private-Partnership and actively seeks close cooperation between multiple domains of society: government, academia, industry, NGOs, and all public and private enterprise.