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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: 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 3: Systems Are Dynamic
Students experience the dynamic, interconnected, and self-organizing nature of systems through an exercise in which they move around an open space trying to keep an equal distance between themselves and 2 other people.
Unit 4: 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.
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 6: Get The Word Out
During this 2-day activity, students compile known facts and student-designed solutions ideas 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 7: Toil For Oil
In this oil extraction simulation, students experience the increasing difficulty of extracting a limited, nonrenewable resource over several years. Students consider and discuss renewable energy sources.
Unit 8: School Sustainability Audit
On Day 1, students perform a sustainability audit of their school in 4 groups (Energy, Water, Waste, and Transportation). On Day 2, each group writes a news article and presents their audit results and recommendations to the class.
Reading 1: Ecological Footprint
Students learn how each person’s lifestyle and resource consumption choices affect their ecological footprint.
Reading 2: Sustainability
Students learn how the three major components of sustainability (environment, society, and economy) are interconnected.
Students learn about pollution and marine debris and how humans can impact ocean health.
Reading 4: Sustainable Solutions - We Can Do It
Students learn about the steps that they can take to work toward a locally and globally sustainable future.
Reading 5: Energy and Sustainability
Students learn about different renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and their corresponding ecological footprints.
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:
- Ecological Footprint
- Marine debris
- Population growth
- Carrying capacity
- Renewable and nonrenewable resources
- Tragedy of the Commons
Student Skills Developed:
- Critical thinking
- Outreach to school community
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.
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, please contact us.
To complement Understanding Sustainability, this section contains background information and additional resources to help educators and students learn more about global issues and sustainability.