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Curricula for Global Sustainability Education

Ignite your students' learning and inspire them to take action in their communities with our hands-on, standards-aligned global sustainability curricula!

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Exploring Global Issues: Social, Economic, and Environmental Interconnections - Educator's Package
Exploring Global Issues: Social, Economic, and Environmental Interconnections - Educator's Package

Purchase a teacher's guide and student text together in this Educator's Package and save $75.50. With 24 solutions-oriented chapters, Exploring Global Issues: Social, Economic, and Environmental Interconnections demonstrates how individual decisions have global impacts and promotes student engagement through hands-on activities, real-world examples, and student-in-action profiles. This teacher-tested resource is correlated to Common Core and national standards, and is designed to support learning in a variety of courses including social studies, human geography, environmental science, and more!

Price $49.50



Table of Contents

Introduction and Table of Contents

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Unit 1: Introduction to Global Issues and Sustainability

Chapter 1. Global Issues

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Global Issues
    • Activity: From Issue to Opportunity
      Students develop criteria for determining what makes an issue global in scope, brainstorm and list global issues, group and prioritize the issues into categories to highlight interconnections, and explore solutions.


  • Day 2
    • Reading: Global Issues and Sustainability
    • Activity: Making Global Connections
      Students demonstrate the interconnectedness of global issues and solutions through a kinesthetic exercise using global issues cards and a ball of yarn.


  • Day 3
    • Reading: Global Issues Today
    • Activity: What’s in the News?
      In this media literacy activity, students use an “iceberg model” to analyze the global patterns and underlying structural causes that drive events in the news.


  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Global lssues
    • Activity: Navigating the Global Issues Net
      Students determine ways to search the Internet effectively and find credible sources.


Chapter 2. Sustainability

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Sustainability
    • Activity: Apples to Apples?
      Students explore the idea of sustainability as a continuum or process by evaluating two seemingly identical apples according to various sustainability criteria.
    • Activity: Drilling Down to Sustainability
      In small groups, students evaluate the sustainability of various resource extraction methods, from coffee farming to coal mining.


  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Sustainability
    • Activity: From Earth Charter to School Community
      “The Earth Charter” is used as a guiding document to envision how sustainability could look within their school community.


  • Day 3
    • Reading: Sustainability Today
    • Activity: From Earth Charter to School Community, continued


  • Day 4 
    • Reading: Sustainability Today
    • Activity: Is It Sustainable?
      Students use a model to evaluate the sustainability of an object or process and to determine ways to make an unsustainable item or process more sustainable.


  • Day 5
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Sustainability
    • Activity: Envisioning Sustainability
      Students work together to brainstorm economic, environmental, and sociocultural characteristics of a sustainable community.

Unit 2: Essential Human Needs

Chapter 3. Food

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  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Food
    • Activity: What Causes Hunger?
      Students will each read about the drought that affected the Horn of Africa in 2011 and identify root causes of famine. In small groups, they will share what they learned about causes and consequences of famine.


  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Food
    • Activity: What to Eat?
      Students brainstorm around the meaning of malnutrition and possible root causes of malnutrition. In pairs, they construct an ideal diet for a day, considering how many calories and which nutrients are important to include in their meals.


  • Day 3
    • Reading: Food Today
    • Activity: What the World Eats
      In a matching exercise, students work to connect countries’ food availability with information about each country’s geographic, economic, and sociopolitical features. Students identify factors that may contribute to food availability or scarcity within a particular country. By examining a map of world hunger, students see for themselves where hunger is most prevalent in the world and discuss possible root causes.


  • Day 4 
    • Reading: Food Today
    • Activity: Food Fight
      Students will research and debate the question of whether a vegetarian lifestyle is advisable, considering both environmental resources and human health.


Chapter 4. Water

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Water
    • Activity: Water Carry
      Simulating the situation in many places around the world, students must complete a schoolwork assignment while carrying water from a distant source to their “home” reservoir. Students then consider solutions to this issue of gathering water. They analyze the connection between these solutions and sustainable development.


  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Water
    • Activity: River to the Sea?
      Students explore the differing ideas of water as a right and water as a commodity. After learning about the Colorado River and its place in the hydrology of the western United States, students brainstorm reasons for why the river no longer reaches the sea. After learning about the various uses of water in the region, they make recommendations for water use in the future.


  • Days 3 & 4
    • Reading: Water Today
    • Activity: A Personal Water Audit
      Students imagine how they would use only 5 gallons of water per day. They then explore their own water footprint by conducting a personal water audit of their direct water use over the next 24-hour period. On day 2, students are introduced to the idea of virtual, or embodied, water and estimate the amount of virtual water they consume.


  • Days 5 & 6 
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Water
      Activity: Water, Water Everywhere?
      Students take on perspectives of different stakeholder groups involved in determining how to deal with increasing demands on a waterway. Stakeholder groups are encouraged to form alliances in order to reach consensus on the plan that will be best for everyone involved.


Chapter 5. Air

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Air
    • Activity: Valuing Clean Air
      Students consider the economic benefits of clean air alongside the costs of pollution control. In small groups, students will perform a cost-benefit analysis of implementing congestion pricing to reduce vehicle traffic, bearing in mind monetary costs alongside environmental and social externalities.

  • Days 2 & 3
    • Reading: Background on Air; Air Today: Indoor Air Pollution
    • Activity: What’s Your IAQ
      Students research 1 type of indoor air pollution, later investigating whether this source is present in their home or school. Students will create a public 
      service announcement (in poster form) about the potentially harmful health effects of this particular pollutant and ways we can safeguard ourselves and our family and friends from exposure.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Air Today: Outdoor Air Pollution
    • Activity: Taking Air Pollution to Court
      Students learn about common sources of outdoor air pollutants and their effects on human health through a mock trial, whereby a group of citizens is suing a local steel mill over air pollution concerns. Taking on the roles of plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, and jurors, students will grapple with the difficulty of connecting air pollution to a single source. 

  • Day 5
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Air
    • Activity: Capping Pollution
      In a cap-and-trade exercise, students take on the roles of 
      electric utility companies tasked with making a profit while remaining below a government-mandated cap on air pollutants. The exercise concludes with a discussion of the effects—good, bad, intended, and unintended—of this market-based approach to pollution control.


Chapter 6. Energy

  • Days 1 & 2
    • Reading: Introduction to Energy
    • Activity: Energy Access for All
      Students categorize the different uses of energy into 3 different levels of necessity. Students then receive an energy profile for different youth around the world and identify their most pressing energy needs. After, they will learn about the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative and work together in small groups to create a public service announcement that encourages people and governments around the world to work toward these goals.


  • Days 3 & 4
    • Reading: Background on Energy
    • Activity: A Personal History of Energy
      Students will analyze a graph of crude oil prices from 1861 to 2011 and then suggest factors that could impact the price of oil. Students will conduct an interview outside of class with a member of an older generation to learn how changes in energy prices or availability have personal impacts.


  • Day 5
    • Reading: Energy Today
    • Activity: Power to the People!
      Students identify an activity they do that requires electricity. Working backwards from this activity, they diagram the path this electricity travels as far as they can. Small groups then research a primary energy source used to generate electricity and identify its benefits and trade-offs.


  • Days 6 & 7
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Energy
    • Activity: Powerful Arguments
      Students begin by participating in a sides debate in which each person either agrees or disagrees with a statement about energy use and then supports their opinion with reasoning. Small groups then research the main arguments for and against different energy debates to prepare for a class debate.

Unit 3: Our Collective Impact: Ecological Footprint and Carrying Capacity

Chapter 7. Population

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Population
    • Activity: Dividing the Pie
      A pie or cake is used to represent the world’s resources. As the population of a group of students clustered in the middle of the classroom grows, similar to 
      the pattern of global population growth, each student is able to contemplate how his or her slice of the pie may be shrinking.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Population
    • Activity: Modeling Growth
      Students consider different patterns of population growth by graphing multiple scenarios. Graphing the patterns, students are able to visualize how a 
      population is affected when it exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Population Today
    • Activity: Reading the Pyramids
      Students learn how to read and interpret population pyramids. While investigating age-sex structures of several national populations, students 
      use this skill to determine what might cause different age distributions and what challenges might arise from each age distribution.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Population Today, continued
    • Activity: Room for More?
      Each student uses an online calculator to estimate his or her individual ecological footprint. Students then investigate the interconnections between population size and the collective ecological footprint of a region.

  • Day 5
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Population
    • Activity: Population Connections
      Students are introduced to the relationship between increased life expectancy and reduced fertility rates. Students investigate 10 additional factors that correlate with fertility rates, either positively or negatively, and contemplate which factors could be focused on to slow global population growth.


Chapter 8. Consumption

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Consumption
    • Activity: Watch Where You Step
      Students create a web diagram to illustrate impacts associated with everyday items. This activity builds on the concept of “ecological footprint” 
      to consider the mark that consumption leaves on the environment, along with impacts on people and societies. Students then develop ideas to reduce the ecological footprint and associated impacts related to an everyday item.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Consumption
    • Activity: The Cost of Production
      Students consider where most of our imported material goods are assembled and the environmental and social impacts of production. In small 
      groups, students develop policies that a company might use in working with foreign manufacturers, considering pros and cons of each policy.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Consumption Today
    • Activity: Why Buy?
      Students begin by considering the purpose of advertising. Each student critically analyzes an advertisement that appeals to him or her, weighing advertising techniques against personal consumption values/ideals. Students discuss whether additional 
      information should be included in product advertisements and how advertising links to consumption choices.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Consumption Today
    • Activity: Cashmere Connections
      Students use information from an engaging video to learn about how environmental concerns, economic forces, and social behaviors are connected to the cashmere clothing industry. They then construct a “connection circle” to identify relationships among variables in the system of cashmere production and consumption.


Chapter 9. Climate Change

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Climate Change
    • Activity: Changes All Around
      In small groups, students examine the climate of 6 distinct locations. Students will then predict what might happen to the climate of a particular region 
      as Earth continues to warm and share these predictions with the rest of the class.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Climate Change
    • Activity: Determining Trends
      In small groups, students will learn about different environmental and societal changes that have occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Each 
      group will share trends they discern from their assigned variable with the rest of the class. The class will then work together to see how all of the variables might be related to one another and how each of them could relate to climate change.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Climate Change Today
    • Activity: It All Adds Up
      Students gather information about their personal energy use to calculate their carbon footprint using an online carbon calculator. Each student will compare 
      their personal result with the carbon footprint of an average person living in the United States as well as other countries around the world. To close, students will discover ways to reduce their carbon emissions.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Climate Change
    • Activity: So Many Solutions!
      Students consider the costs and benefits of a variety of responses to climate change to determine which solutions might be the most sustainable.


Chapter 10. Biodiversity

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Biodiversity
    • Activity: What Is Nature Worth?
      Working in small groups, students brainstorm the services different ecosystems provide and critically analyze how ecosystem services support 
      environmental, social, or economic systems. Students then explore the idea of determining an economic value for ecosystem services.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Biodiversity
    • Activity: Seeking Refuge
      Students are presented with 4 different conservation efforts that currently exist in the United States. After determining the pros and cons of each approach, students must decide which is the best use of conservation funding and articulate their 

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Biodiversity Today
    • Activity: Endangered Species Investigation
      Students individually research an endangered species to learn about activities that threaten the survival of the species and what actions have been taken to reverse the species’ decline. As a class, students make conclusions about the human activities that have the greatest impact on endangered species. Students then work to develop their own policies that address the decline in biodiversity.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Biodiversity
    • Activity: Designing Community-based Conservation Programs
      Students experience the process of community-based conservation firsthand as they work in small groups to develop solutions that support both human and wildlife communities. In a jigsaw activity, students develop conservation strategies designed to meet different goals, ultimately collaborating to come up with solutions that achieve multiple goals.


Chapter 11. Oceans

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Oceans
    • Activity: Bounty of the Oceans
      Students explore the variety of and interconnections between marine species. In small groups, students research one marine species. As a class, 
      students work together to create a visual representation of each species’ use of the oceans and the relationships between this small sample of marine life.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Oceans
    • Activity: Van to the Ocean Floor
      Students learn about the use of underwater remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to explore the oceans as well as uncover a unique ecosystem that scientists are just beginning to learn about themselves, deep-water corals. Students use data and images collected from Lophelia II, an expedition undertaken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to perform their own scientific exploration from a classroom setting.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Oceans Today
    • Activity: Nonpoint Source Pollution
      Students learn to distinguish point source pollutants from nonpoint source pollutants. They discover how nutrient pollution is affecting the oceans. Students then develop research questions and strategies for addressing the problem of low dissolved oxygen in one region, the Puget Sound.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Oceans
    • Activity: Who Cares about Marine Protected Areas?
      Students take on perspectives of different stakeholder groups involved in the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) along the coast of their city. Stakeholder groups are encouraged to form alliances, contemplate compromise, and seek consensus. Their efforts will, hopefully, result in a final proposal for an MPA along their coastline, potentially with sections portioned off for specific uses and a list of regulations to be applied to the MPA.

Unit 4: Human Health, Security, & Well-being

Chapter 12. Quality of Life

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Quality of Life
    • Activity: Livin’ the Good Life
      Students develop indicators to measure quality of life and conduct a survey of peers and adults to obtain data for their indicators. They analyze the 
      survey data using spreadsheet software and produce charts to demonstrate their results. Students compare their own performance as measured by the quality of life indicators against averages determined by the survey results.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Quality of Life
    • Activity: Defining Happiness
      Students individually decide what types of things positively contribute to their quality of life. They compare their ideas about quality of life to national 
      statistics related to how Americans spend their time and determine how Americans could restructure their time to improve quality of life.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Quality of Life Today
    • Activity: What’s Your Rank?
      Students are divided into groups to research regions around the world. Based on the United Nations Human Development Index Indicators and rankings, students will analyze statistics for 5 countries within their assigned region. They will then consider regional differences in rankings and possible roots causes of these differences.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Quality of Life
    • Activity: In the Pursuit of Happiness
      Students will interpret the Declaration of Independence and a number of different quotes from historical figures related to happiness. They will then write a personal essay that speaks to their philosophy on the pursuit of happiness.

Chapter 13. Governance

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Governance
    • Activity: Three Faces of Governance
      Students create a national energy policy via cooperation and negotiation among the three faces of governance: the state (government), civic organizations, and the private sector. In groups representing each of these areas, students work to accomplish their individual policy goals while negotiating and forming coalitions with other groups to strengthen their overall energy policy. Policy proposals are presented, and one plan is selected to become a national energy policy.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Governance
    • Activity: Uncursing Resources?
      After reading about the “resource curse” in the accompanying text, students consider two case studies of oil-rich countries: Norway and Angola. They then form groups and discuss whether or not these countries are “cursed” by their own natural resource wealth. Students analyze what has led the countries to where they are today.

  • Days 3-4
    • Reading: Governance Today
    • Activity: Governance in the Classroom
      Students examine the connections between governance and outcomes by changing a rule in their classroom for one week and monitoring the outcome. After experiencing the modified rules, they reflect on how the rule change was made and whether it affected the classroom in the way they thought it would.

  • Day 5
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Governance
    • Activity: The Tip of the Iceberg
      Students research an uprising or revolution, selecting from a list prepared by the teacher. After finding several news articles, students use an “iceberg model” to analyze the patterns and underlying governance structures that underlay the event.

Chapter 14. Health

  • Days 1 & 2
    • Reading: Introduction to Health
    • Activity: Changing Minds
      Students examine personal habits in an effort to improve health. Using the example of handwashing, they take on the role of public health planners 
      and design a blueprint for changing the habits of their school. Students discuss the challenges that people face trying to change habits related to health and the sources of their own health habits, such as upbringing, choices, and environment.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Background on Health
    • Activity: Rural vs. Urban Health
      Students consider the health concerns of communities in urban and rural settings, specifically after a migration from a rural to urban setting, which often occurs during the industrialization of a nation. Ultimately, students begin to place health within a social, economic, and geographic context.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Background on Health continued
    • Activity: Pandemic!
      Students are introduced to the history of global pandemics and evaluate the possible public health responses to a flu pandemic today. Based on the World Health Organization’s handling of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, students design a response to a rapidly spreading, deadly flu. This activity gives perspective on one of the biggest accomplishments of modern public health, the ability to mitigate the effects of pandemic disease, as well as revealing the limitations of the modern global health system.

Chapter 15. Conflict

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Peace and Conflict
    • Activity: Conflict Watch
      Students watch a world news report from any major television channel. They take note of a conflict mentioned, the bias in which it is presented, and research other media sources to get all sides of the story. They then present the information they learned to their classmates.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Peace and Conflict
    • Activity: To Fight or Not to Fight?
      Students examine a variety of interstate and intrastate conflicts through a role-playing activity. They learn to identify root causes of conflict, how to separate positions from interests in a conflict, and experience mediating a conflict.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Peace and Conflict Today
    • Activity: Increasing the Peace
      Students read several scenarios related to different types of conflicts. They critically analyze what types of actions would escalate the conflict and what types of actions would resolve the conflict.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Peace and Conflict
    • Activity: Peaceful Solutions, Day 1
      Student take on the role of peace diplomats who offer specific ideas for developing greater security and stability within a given country.

  • Day 5
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Peace and Conflict
    • Activity: Peaceful Solutions, Day 2
      Student take on the role of peace diplomats who offer specific ideas for developing greater security and stability.

Chapter 16. Human Rights

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Human Rights
    • Activity: Current Events and Human Rights
      Students explore a number of current events related to human rights issues. After researching and responding to specific questions about a specific current event, they will present information back to their peers about the issue, the rights that were violated, and what solutions have been offered.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Human Rights
    • Activity: Defending Civil Rights
      Students examine a variety of historic civil rights court cases in the United States. Students will analyze these cases in pairs and create compelling opening statements to present to their peers to advocate for the rights these court cases sought to protect. The activity will culminate in creating a timeline of these cases to see how far the Civil Rights Movement has come in the United States.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Human Rights Today
    • Activity: The Power to Change
      Students brainstorm different types of human rights. After reviewing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they are provided a specific article from the Declaration. In groups, they create 2 skits: one that presents how an individual or group is not allowed to exercise a particular right and one that presents an individual or group able to exercise this right because of a personal or structural solution. Students will act out these skits to their classmates.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Human Rights
    • Activity: Creating Our Future
      Students consider what they can personally do to create solutions to human rights issues. Students will identify what human rights issues they want to work on. Using an action-planning model, they visualize solutions to this specific issue, identify objectives, develop a plan, and implement their vision through action and service learning.

Chapter 17. Gender

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Gender
    • Activity: Gender in Media
      Students begin by acknowledging some individual beliefs they have related to gender. They then analyze an advertisement that portrays different genders and consider stereotypes and impacts of media on society. They generate ideas about how the ad could be modified so that it does not promote stereotypes about gender.​​

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Gender
    • Activity: Women’s Movements Around the World
      Students research different women’s rights movements around the world. In small groups, they learn about a specific women’s movement and share this information with their classmates. The class then identifies different types of gender-related issues and analyzes impacts of these issues on sustainability.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Gender Today
    • Activity: Everyone Does Better When Women Do Better
      Students enact the roles of citizens and government representatives from various countries at a “town meeting” forum. Citizens address their local government representative with concerns about the status of women and girls in their country and potential solutions. With input from the citizens, the leaders prioritize the concerns voiced at the meeting and decide on the most effective way to take action and improve the situation in each of the countries.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Gender
    • Activity: Closing the Gender Gap
      Students analyze what the typical girl in a developing country will experience from birth until adulthood. They will then brainstorm points of 
      intervention in order to consider ways to reform the cycle of gender inequality that persists today. They will work in pairs to determine ways to change the course of this girl’s life and examine possible unintended consequences of these interventions.

Chapter 18. Human Migration

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Human Migration
    • Activity: What’s in the News?
      In this media literacy activity, students read the news and use an iceberg model to analyze the global patterns and underlying structural causes that drive migration patterns.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Human Migration
    • Activity: Seeking Asylum
      Through a simulation, students experience the difficult choice 
      and struggles facing refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) when they are forced to leave their homes. Students learn about the root causes of refugee and IDP crises, and the options and obstacles each group faces.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Human Migration Today
    • Activity: Policy Analysis
      Students analyze a time line of U.S. Policy on Immigration and Naturalization, observing trends and patterns during the last 200 years. After reviewing 
      this information, they suggest immigration policies based on projections for the next several decades.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Human Migration
    • Activity: To Move or Not to Move?
      Students analyze different scenarios and in groups, recommend whether an individual should migrate from a specific country or not based on a variety of factors. In addition to the scenario they receive, students will research information to make an informed decision on this migration. Groups will present their recommendations to the class.

Unit 5: The Global Economy: Economics & Development

Chapter 19. Economics

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Economics
    • Activity: The Costs of Education
      After researching information provided to them, students analyze the economic costs of dropping out of school. After gathering this information, students will individually write argumentative essays on the long-term economic consequences of dropping out and pose solutions that would encourage more students to graduate.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Economics
    • Activity: What’s Up with the GDP?
      In this economics simulation, students graph changes in the personal incomes of different community residents and in the community’s 
      proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP) following an oil spill. The lesson explores the effect of an environmental disaster on the GDP, and the accuracy of GDP as a measurement of a community’s overall health.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Economics Today
    • Activity: Pondering Economic Policies
      Students take on roles of different world leaders tasked with reviewing real-world economic policies before deciding whether to move forward with them or not. After drawing their own conclusions, they learn about the real results of these economic policies.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Economics
    • Activity: The Choice Is Yours
      Students take a closer look into the benefits and consequences of purchasing certain kinds of food. They determine which food is the best choice based on information they are provided and share their reasoning with the class.

Chapter 20. Poverty & Development

Day 1

  • Reading: Introduction to Poverty
  • Activity: Take a Step for Equity
    Students are randomly assigned an economic class, and then hear poverty and wealth statistics describing their economic class as they step forward in a line. Ultimately, a distance is created between the wealthiest and the poorest, illustrating the economic gap between the rich and poor. Students then brainstorm and discuss ways to alleviate poverty and hunger.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Poverty
    • Activity: Shop Till You Drop
      Students experience how resources are distributed and used by different people based on access to wealth. Students discuss and work toward personal and structural solutions to address the environmental impacts of resource consumption, and to help alleviate poverty.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Poverty Today
    • Activity: What’s Debt Got to Do with It?
      Students model the impact of debt on the social and economic health of developing countries. Working in “very poor country” groups, students choose how to allocate limited funds to different sectors of their country’s economy. The groups take on loans to help their country develop and experience what happens when their funds are diverted to debt repayment and away from investment.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Poverty
    • Activity: Microcredit for Sustainable Development
      Students research a developing country and then apply for a $100 microcredit grant to start a small business, as if they were a person living in that country. A business plan and an illustrated poster are presented to a “sustainable development panel of experts” (students) who determine whether or not the business plan is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

Chapter 21. Globalization

  • Days 1 and 2
    • Reading: Introduction to Globalization
    • Activity: Globalizing My World
      As an introductory activity, students spend a day analyzing how trade has impacted their daily lives. As they spend time analyzing products, food, and media they consume, they can start to identify potential trends and patterns that connect directly to globalization.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Background on Globalization
    • Activity: Do You Want Fries with That?
      Students take on perspectives of different stakeholder groups involved in determining whether or not a fast-food chain should be allowed within a community located in France. Stakeholder groups share their point of view to a panel who will ultimately decide whether a fast-food chain should be allowed within this given community.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Globalization Today
    • Activity: To Trade or Not to Trade
      Students are introduced to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its stated goals. In small groups, they will research either the pros or cons of NAFTA from the point of view of the United States, Mexico, or Canada. After researching this information, the pro and con groups for each country will join together to share and listen to both sides of the argument. As a country group, they will decide whether NAFTA has overall been a worthwhile effort to improve their country’s economy. If not, they will analyze what provisions need to be met to meet is original goals. Each country group will present their position to the entire class.

Unit 6: Creating Sustainable Communities

Chapter 22. Community Development

  • Days 1–3
    • Reading: Introduction to Community Development
    • Activity: Social Capital Youth Summit
      Students are placed into groups based on common interests. Each group then works together to find what about their common interest draws them all to it, before planning and hosting a mini-event sharing their interest with the rest of the class. Through this process, students build social capital both within groups (bonding capital) and between groups (bridging capital), then discuss how these sorts of relationships could help them work together to address common problems.

  • Days 4 & 5
    • Reading: Background on Community Development
    • Activity: Putting Our Community on the Map
      In groups, students create representational maps of their school and the surrounding community to conceptualize and understand 
      interrelations among neighborhood resources, the environment, community, and sustainability. Students then brainstorm specific ways to make the school’s neighborhood more sustainable through improvements to the physical environment and revise their maps to reflect these enhancements. A homework assignment asks students to assess the availability of important resources near their homes. In an extension activity, students present their ideas to community stakeholders.

  • Day 6
    • Reading: Community Development Today
    • Activity: Fixing Up the Neighborhood
      In groups, students consider common challenges to community well-being. After identifying underlying problems, considering solutions, and 
      determining available resources, they determine solutions to put their hypothetical community on a course to sustained well-being. Students will consider both positive and negative repercussions for their proposed community development schemes.

Chapter 23. Sustainable Design

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Sustainable Design
    • Activity: A Sense of Place
      Students visit 1 of their favorite places and make observations. In small groups, students will share with classmates, and look for patterns in their observations. Together, the group will name the 3 characteristics it feels are most important for a place to possess, and relate these characteristics to sustainable design.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Sustainable Design
    • Activity: Green Products Consultants
      As a class, students generate a list of products used to construct the built environment. In pairs, students assume the role of a Life Cycle Assessment expert and perform a Life Cycle Assessment for 2 different versions of a product. In pairs, students present their results to an “architectural firm” in a written report and to the class with a verbal report.

  • Days 3 and 4
    • Reading: Sustainable Design Today
    • Activity: Nature Knows Best
      Students will observe something in nature and identify characteristics that could be used as a model for design. They will then design a sustainable material, product, or place. Students will showcase their designs and be able to explain what makes them sustainable.

  • Days 5 and 6
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Sustainable Design
    • Activity: (re)Designing a Better World
      In small groups, students will define revitalization, resiliency, and restoration and consider why these concepts are used in the design world. The class views a video documenting 1 architect’s effort to build a community center for a community affected by a tsunami. Students will use the story to learn the steps of the design process. Students will then demonstrate their understanding of the design process by identifying the steps in another real-world example.

Chapter 24. Taking Action

  • Day 1
    • Reading: Introduction to Taking Action
    • Activity: Bio-poem
      Students create a concept map that illustrates their strengths, interests, and the factors that have encouraged these strengths and gifts. Students then create a bio-poem that describes who they are and the future they desire.

  • Day 2
    • Reading: Background on Taking Action
    • Activity: The Fight to Help Haiti
      Students discover what makes for effective action by investigating the work of 4 disaster relief organizations in Haiti after the country experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010. In small groups, students examine the accomplishments and limitations of 1 of these organizations. As a class, students will present their findings as well as brainstorm how they would choose to run a disaster relief organization based upon lessons learned in Haiti.

  • Day 3
    • Reading: Taking Action Today
    • Activity: Thirty Days for Change
      Students identify a personal action or habit they can create to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. The class will then participate in a 30-day Sustainability Challenge in which they will try to make this personal action a habit. Each week of the challenge, students will meet with group members for encouragement and accountability.

  • Day 4
    • Reading: Pathways to Progress: Taking Action
    • Activity: Creating Our Future
      How do we create a just and humane world for ourselves and for future generations? Students identify and plan what they want their future to look 
      like. Using an action planning model, students visualize their desired future, identify objectives, develop a plan to address local and global issues, and implement their vision through action and service learning.

Preview Videos

See what the developers of Exploring Global Issues have to say about the book. This video describes the EGI student text and corresponding teacher's guide; a foundational text for social studies and science courses alike.


Have you ever thought about how a teenager in Vietnam could be linked to the pair of jeans you wear? You are connected to the world in countless ways. Where did tomatoes for the ketchup in your school cafeteria come from? Where were the cars in your school parking lot manufactured? In which country was the computer code for your cellphone written? You might be thinking, "Why should I care?"

In a world where two people 7,000 miles apart can connect with just a click of the mouse, knowledge of different cultures and customs can prove useful. In a world where we rely more and more on goods and services from other countries, knowledge of international trade and economics is essential. In a world where the air you breathe can be affected by a factory outside your nation's borders, knowledge of wind cycles and international enforcement of environmental standards can be crucial to creating solutions to issues that impact us all.

Everyone benefits from an understanding of global issues. It is the nature of the world in which we live that connections—whether social, economic, or environmental—now occur on a global scale. Global issues, such as poverty, climate change, conflict, and population growth are interrelated and affect the lives of all people around the world. The good news is while these issues can be challenging, they have interconnected solutions that we can develop to create long-lasting, positive change. By thinking of global solutions to global issues, we can begin to create a truly sustainable world.

Exploring Global Issues: Social, Economic, and Environmental Interconnections provides you the opportunity to learn about 24 topics related to global issues and sustainable ways to address these issues. You will learn about the background of the topic, examine how it impacts the world today, draw personal and community connections, and devise solutions to address the issue. Each chapter features young people who are doing work related to the topic. Each chapter also features case studies that present issues in context. For example, the chapter on air includes a case study of pollution in Mexico City. These case studies allow you to see an issue in real life and perhaps from a perspective that you had not considered before. They also provide you with the opportunity to connect your personal experiences and knowledge about an issue with a different part of the world.

As you learn about these topics, you will also participate in activities related to each chapter. These resources are designed to:

  • enhance your ability to think critically
  • improve your problem-solving abilities
  • expand your global perspective
  • increase your knowledge of global issues and sustainable solutions

This text will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills to understand what's happening in the world around you and prepare you to be an engaged citizen capable of creating change locally and globally.

State Standards

Educator Quotes

 The Exploring Global Issues textbook is the ultimate one-stop shop for all things global. Whether you’re looking to teach an entire course on sustainability or the environment, for example, or you want to add engaging curriculum to core classes like social studies or science, this book is the one to get the job done. Students in my Global Issues classes agree: they’ve called the book 'informative, topical, engaging, thought-provoking, and user-friendly.' 

- Jason Sinclair Long, Social Studies Department, Placer High School, CA


 Exploring Global Issues is unique in that it thoughtfully examines global issues that might otherwise fall “between the cracks” of the average high school curriculum. It also objectively guides students to a genuine understanding of these issues, encouraging them to form their own well-supported opinions along the way. 

 - Rick Malmstrom, Social Studies Teacher, The Ellis School, PA

 Exploring Global Issues is an excellent way to teach about complex, modern issues with great supporting resources that save a lot of time when trying to imagine how to delve into the many facets of modern global and ecological issues. The curriculum is flexible, adaptive and user friendly, but does not compromise on the depth and detail of the issue even though it is extremely accessible to students. 

 - Bridgette McGoldrick, History Teacher, The Annie Wright School, WA

Curriculum Funding Toolkit

Use this toolkit to help find funds to purchase Facing the Future curriculum for your classroom. The funding opportunities listed below have been screened by Facing the Future staff to ensure that they are easy to apply to and that funds from these sources can be used to purchase our curriculum.

Learn more about:

Do you know of other funding opportunities that would enable educators to purchase Facing the Future curriculum? Contact us to help spread the word.



Current Funding Opportunities


Eligibility: Teachers, Schools, Districts

Amount: Varies  |  Deadline:  Open

Adopt-A-Classroom partners donors with teachers so you can have funds to purchase critical resources and materials for your classroom. By registering, your classroom will be posted on the Adopt-A-Classroom website available for donors to select. When adopted, you will have full discretion to purchase items that meet your unique classroom needs. FAQs


Eligibility: K–12 public schools

Amount: Varies  Deadline: Open

Teachers can post a project or curriculum they would like to fund. Donors can make an online donation for any amount toward the cost of the project or curriculum. When the item is fully funded, DonorsChoose purchases the item and sends it and a thank you kit to the teacher.

The Lawrence Foundation

Eligibility: U.S.-based IRS 501(c)(3) qualified charitable or public schools and libraries

Amount: Varies  Deadline: April 30 and October 31

The foundation is focused on making grants to support education, health, human services, and other causes, with the opportunity to support other diverse areas on an occasional basis.

Learn and Serve America

Eligibility: Local Educational Agencies, public or private schools, nonprofits, and higher education institutions

Amount: Varies by state  |  Deadline: Varies by state

Do you have an idea for a service-learning project that will impact your community? Learn and Serve America provides grant support annually (primarily through intermediaries) to diverse partnerships to develop and sustain service-learning projects. Generally, grants are for a period of three years, renewable annually contingent upon performance and the availability of funds.

Note: Funds are allocated to each State by a formula that considers each State’s school-age population and Title I allotment. Grants are awarded on a non-competitive basis to States through State Education Agencies (SEAs) that then provide sub-grants to Local Educational Agencies, public or private schools, nonprofits, and higher education institutions that implement programs.

Examples of State Learn and Serve Programs: FL, NY, TX, IL,CA, WA

Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) reminds our country of its obligations to children and provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students.

Student Achievement Grants - NEA Foundation

Eligibility: Applicants must be practicing U.S public school teachers in grades PreK–12, public school education support professionals, or faculty and staff at public higher education institutions

Amount: $5,000   |  Deadline: Open

The NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants aim to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen their knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.

Verizon Foundation

Eligibility: Schools and 501(c)3 organizations

Amount: Grants average between $5,000 and $10,000  |   Deadline: January 1 and October 31

The Verizon Foundation seeks to improve literacy, knowledge, and readiness for the twenty-first century. Its four core areas are education, literacy, Internet safety, and domestic violence.  Eligible organizations seeking grants from the Verizon Foundation must be prepared to track and report program outcomes and specific results that demonstrate measurable human impact. In the grant application, organizations must indicate what outcomes are targeted through programming and what results, as specified on the grant application, the organization will measure.

About Federal Funding

Federal funds tend to be large grant awards and most often are open to schools, districts, or state governments. Individual teachers are not typically awarded small grants through Federal Grant Programs. You can search all federal funding opportunities at or Department of Education funding opportunities at their Discretionary Grant Application Packages page.

Information About Programs

Use the Guide to Education Programs to learn about federally funded programs. Below are direct links to specific programs for which funding opportunities may arise or may be available through your state:


Grants Forecasting
The grants forecast can help you identify grant competitions within some of these programs that may open soon.


Tips and Resources



Don’t let a lack of funds keep you from using our curriculum resources. If you teach at a Title I school or have a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, please contact us.

Supplementary Materials

To complement Exploring Global Issues, this section contains background information and additional resources to help educators and students learn more about global issues and sustainability.

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About Us

We equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future through hands-on curricula and professional learning.

Facing the Future is an
independent program of WWU