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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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Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Alaska Social Studies, Grades 9-12 - Lesson Plan PDF
Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Alaska Social Studies, Grades 9-12 - Lesson Plan PDF

Teacher Lesson Plan PDF
Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Alaska Social Studies is a flexible two-week curriculum unit for Alaska science and social studies educators to teach sustainability issues. This unit features hands-on activities that explore sustainability concerns specific to Alaska ecosystems including marine debris, fishing practices, and oil drilling.

ISBN 0971100586
Price $4.99



Free Previews & Table of Contents

Table of Contents and Introduction

Download the Introduction and Table of ContentsThis download contains the table of contents and introduction.

Unit 1: Fishing For The Future

Through a fishing simulation, students model several consecutive seasons of a fishery and explore how technology, population growth, and sustainable practices impact fish catch and fisheries management. As the students progress through the fishing seasons, they will likely overfish their oceans and will have to migrate to other oceans to meet their basic needs.

Unit 2: Fish-Finding Mission

Students engage in a fact-finding mission to discover information about global fisheries and aquaculture trends. During this online scavenger hunt, they will also consider specific ways to promote the sustainability of ocean resources.

Unit 3: Debris? Oh Me!

Through a simulation activity, students experience some of the challenges and impacts of marine debris and devise solutions for marine debris removal and prevention.

Unit 4: Get The Word Out

During this 2-day activity, students compile known facts and student-designed solutions in a brochure about marine debris prevention and removal. This brochure can be distributed to students, teachers, and parents to get the word out about the impact of marine debris and solutions.

Unit 5: Watch Where You Step

Students identify the components of an Ecological Footprint by creating a web diagram of all the resources they use in their everyday lives and the mark or “footprint” this consumption leaves on the environment. The activity emphasizes the interconnectedness of lifestyle, population, and environmental impacts, and focuses on solutions to reduce Ecological Footprints.

Unit 6: Resolving to Change

Download unit 6: Resolving to ChangeStudents research and discuss marine debris impacts and solutions, write a resolution addressing management of marine debris, and present their resolutions at a mock city council meeting.

Unit 7: Is It Sustainable?

Students define and discuss sustainability and its 3 key components: the economy, the environment, and society. Students brainstorm, analyze, and write about the sustainability of a variety of actions taken by individuals, businesses, and governments, using a Venn diagram to help organize the process.


Reading 1: Understanding Sustainability & Environmental Resources

Students learn how the three major components of sustainability (environment, society, and economy) are interconnected.

Reading 2: Economic Indicators of Progress

Students consider how the well-being or quality of life of people around the world are tied to environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability.

Reading 3: The Ocean Planet

Students learn about pollution and marine debris and how humans can impact ocean health.

Reading 4: Human Impacts on the Planet

Students learn how each person’s lifestyle and resource consumption choices affect their ecological footprint.

Reading 5: Sustainable Solutions

Download reading 5: Sustainable SolutionsStudents learn about the steps that they can take to work toward a locally and globally sustainable future.

Resource Details 

Why Use Understanding Sustainability?

The purpose of this unit is to teach important sustainability concepts and their interconnections, including natural resources, human population growth, and resource consumption. Lessons link to relevant and easy-to-implement action projects, including a sustainability audit in which students investigate and make recommendations about their school’s energy, water, trash, and transportation use. Students develop critical thinking and collaboration skills while applying sustainability concepts in their local and global communities.

Issues Covered/Key Concepts:
  • Carrying capacity
  • Ecological Footprint
  • Fisheries
  • Interconnections
  • Marine debris
  • Personal and structural solutions
  • Policy
  • Population growth
  • Renewable and nonrenewable resources
  • Sustainability
  • Technology
  • Tragedy of the Commons
Student Skills Developed:
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Outreach to school community


How to Use Understanding Sustainability

Understanding Sustainability can be used as a short unit on global issues or as an engaging contextual framework within which core subjects are taught. Understanding Sustainability is often compatible with existing curriculum requirements and topics and extends students’ learning through an interdisciplinary approach to issues.

State Standards

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.

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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.

Toshiba America Foundation

Eligibility: Public and non-profit private schools

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Applications for grades K-5 accepted once a year on October 1st; applications for less than $5,000 for grades 6-12 accepted on a rolling basis; applications for more than $5,000 for grades 6-12 due August 2, 2010.

Toshiba America Foundation (TAF) grants fund the projects ideas and materials teachers need to innovate in their math and science classrooms. TAF is interested in funding projects designed by teachers or small teams of teachers for use in their own schools.

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.

Professional Development

Facing the Future offers the following workshop to help you learn more about Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Alaska Social Studies, Grades 9-12:

Understanding Sustainability: 2-Week Unit for High School Social Studies

Engage your students in an examination of what it means to be a sustainable community, democracy, and civilization. This workshop provides a tour of Understanding Sustainability which includes concepts such as resource consumption, governance, and civic engagement. This unit of study is appropriate for Contemporary World Problems, World History, Civics, Geography, and Global Issues classes; it includes eight stand-alone, activity-based lessons, student readings, assignments, assessments, and action project ideas. Your students will gain skills in critical thinking, historical analysis, mapping, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Additional Professional Development Opportunities


To learn more about our upcoming workshops, webinars, and conferences, please visit our Workshop Calendar. If you are interested in having Facing the Future present at your next event, pleasee contact us.

Supplementary Materials

To complement Understanding Sustainability, 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