Since 2017, CIR has designed and hosted our innovative NextGenSim. This annual policy simulation for high school students across northern New Mexico, from Los Alamos to Albuquerque, thrusts students into role-playing stakeholders tasked with achieving consensus on a complex global issue. Now in its fifth year, NextGenSim has served thousands of students. With the ongoing support of PNM, NextGenSim has become one of CIR’s flagship educational programs.


The year is 2000

In the functional South American country of Firenzia, the national energy policy spells out a twenty-something transition to renewable energy.

However, competing energy and environmental priorities have ignited tensions and discord among the country’s stakeholders — and rumor has it, some stakeholders may use arson to get their way.

The Year is 2025

The country’s energy plan is years behind schedule and, to make matters worse, a severe wildfire now threatens Firenzia’s forests. Time is of the essence: how will you save Firenzia? Who is to blame? And importantly…

How will disaster affect Firenzia’s transition to renewable energy?

How does it Work?

Once again from the perspective of a fictional country, NextGenSim 2021 is divided over three time periods, as students weigh the pros and cons of transitioning to renewable energy over the high costs of maintaining the existing energy infrastructure. Students will assume the role of national political figures, energy company officials, and local community leaders over three distinct rounds: the year 2000, 2025, and 2026. At the end of each round, students must reach a consensus on options related to national policy, energy infrastructure, and environmental policies.

Though fictional, the scenario will draw upon various real-world examples related to wildfires, including recent fires in the Brazilian Amazon, Australia, and California. The choices students make at the conclusion of each round will have direct consequences for the next round. 

Past Participating Schools

CIR hosted NextGenSim 2020 at three high schools: Los Alamos High School, Sandia High School, and Santa Fe Preparatory. A total of 275 high school students participated in NextGenSim 2020.

In addition to the three hosting schools, several high schools sent delegations of students to participate. Those high schools included: 

  • Desert Academy
  • East Mountain High School
  • La Cueva High School
  • Los Alamos Middle School
  • Mandela International Magnet School
  • Menaul School
  • Moriarty High School
  • Santa Fe High School
  • The ASK Academy

A total of 275 high school students participated in NextGenSim 2020! There were five additional simulations planned for spring 2020, but cancelled due to Covid-19. 

Available Material


We thank PNM for their generous support of NextGenSim 2021!