Free Previews & Table of Contents
The introductory pages and table of contents of Understanding Sustainability.
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.
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: Who You Callin’ Bigfoot?
Students determine ways to increase the sustainability of their lifestyles. Each student changes 1 aspect of his or her daily life for 1 week to reduce his or her Ecological Footprint. Students present their results to the class at the end of the project.
Unit 5: 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.
Unit 6: 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.
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: Every Drop Counts!
Through a series of water related lessons, including a water trivia game and a short demonstration, students learn how much of the earth’s water is available for human and other species’ needs.
Unit 9: Deep Space 3000
This collaborative activity will help students envision and create a sustainable environment through the design of a “closed system” spaceship that will be in outer space for 3,000 years, and then bring healthy and happy future generations back to Earth.
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.
Reading 3: Energy and Sustainability
Students learn about the differences between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and their impacts on the environment.
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.
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
- Energy resources
- Population growth
- Carrying capacity
- Renewable and nonrenewable resources
- Sustainability Systems
- Water resources
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.
To complement Understanding Sustainability, this section contains background information and additional resources to help educators and students learn more about global issues and sustainability.