Students identify one example of disadvantage from (a) a local context and (b) a global/ international context. For each example, investigate the reasons behind this disadvantage and the effects that it has on those people and on others. Explore ways to overcome such disadvantages.

The learners identify different “global food products” that are commonly consumed in their country and produced in different countries in different continents (both in the global north and south). They research how this product is grown, in which places, with what seeds, etc. and the impacts it has in the natural habitats and their local communities; how they “travel” to their local supermarket, etc.

Results are shared and learners discuss the implications in terms of sustainability, both environmental and social (e.g. limits, structural flaws, change needs). Learners discuss in small groups opportunities to contribute to improvements in the chain (both production, distribution and consumption) that could tackle some of these issues and what conditions should change.

Debate impact of unsustainable use of marine resources. Examples:

  1. From a selection of resources, students discuss the following question: “What are the risks associated with the unsustainable use of marine resources?” (Debate opinions considering different stakeholders and perspectives)
  2. From a selection of resources based on a particular issue, students discuss the following question: What measures are needed to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources? (Consensus debate to find a way forward)
  3. From a selection of resources presenting an issue and a solution, students discuss the following question: How could the solution be implemented? (Action-oriented debate to agree steps).

For a class of approximately 30: Split class into 9 groups of 3 (or 2-4 per group to fit numbers).

The first three groups are given the task of investigating What’s so good about…?
Each of the groups receives a different topic: e.g. A. Social Justice; B. Biodiversity; C. Maintaining a Stable Climate.
They are asked to find out: What is this about? Why is it important? Is this desirable? If so, why?

The second three groups are given the task of investigating What’s the problem with…?
Each of the groups receives a different topic: e.g. A. Using cheap labour to make our clothes; B. Eating large quantities of cheap meat; C. Using fossil fuels for our energy needs.
They are asked to find out: Why is this considered to be a bad thing? What impacts is it having on people’s lives/the environment? Why is it happening?

The third three groups are given the task of investigating How can we deal with…?
Each of the groups receives a different topic: e.g. A. Exploitative employment practices; B. The negative impacts of the meat industry; C. Greenhouse gas emissions.
They are asked to find out: How can we deal with this issue? How might we reduce its impact? What alternatives are there for this (in terms of materials and our actions or habits)?

Share: After 30-40 minutes’ group work ask the groups to come together in three teams comprising the Group As, Group Bs and Group Cs. The teams should now listen to each other in order to discover any links that they can between their different pieces of evidence. They should work together to develop a presentation that they can share with the other two teams.

Present: Each team gives a five minute presentation to the rest of the class and takes questions on their given issue.

In groups: investigate access to sustainable and affordable products from a developing world’s perspective. Each group takes a specific country and researches the potential perspective of these different stakeholders. Share your analysis with others and discuss, comparing the different case studies.

Teachers, students and parents, conduct a field study in their community. Students and parents following different directions and using a map of the community, register on the map locations of practices in their community that impact on their quality of life. Returning to school, all the groups work together to compile in a bigger map, schemes, notes and drawings of the things they spotted in their area of investigation as unsustainable, justifying why they want to change them and how (proposals for changes and actions). Then they organise a discussion in the school inviting all the interested parties and community stakeholders. They present the results of their field work and their suggestions and ideas for actions and decide jointly on a long-term course of actions that will help their community become more sustainable.

Game-example: The Human Security Challenge

The Human Security Challenge takes place on a board that symbolizes a virtual world. Six fictional nations invest in security and aim to gain the most power by the end of the last game round. The dynamics are similar to issues that world leaders grapple with: limited resources, crises, conflict and international negotiations. The players face crucial trade-offs between long-term stability and short-term national interests.

The world is becoming increasingly complex and this calls for appropriate tools on how to deal with the world’s commons. The Human Security Challenge aims to provide players with insights into the dynamics at play and to stimulate reflection on collaboration between different players with different interests and perspectives.

The Challenge focuses on hard and soft measures of security and is used as a tool to start the conversation about the different aspects of security. The game is designed in a way that ensures the participants gain an improved understanding of the complexity of security issues and also helps them reflect on how they, as individuals, make decisions and position themselves in relation to each other.

Introduce the idea of how learning from nature can lead to smarter designs and more sustainable solutions. Students, in small groups, explore the school to identify unsustainable behaviour, routines etc. They then brainstorm alternative, sustainable solutions that might include mimicry, circular thinking and/or cradle to cradle.

Students write the challenge and solutions on a big sheet of paper and put it on the wall.

Teams check and critique each other’s work.

If possible, the results are presented to the school management.

NB: the whole process can be adapted to consider home, personal lifestyle, neighbourhood etc…

Useful source: ‘Webster & Johnson, Sense & sustainability’ (TerraPreta 2009); Dutch: Leren van de Natuur (NME Utrecht 2010) especially the suggestions on p154.

Identify a number of case studies of different company initiatives (positive & negative). Small groups take one each and research it, identifying likely positive and negative impacts of initiative on stakeholders and the environment. Share analysis with others and discuss, comparing case studies.

In groups, students research energy consumption data for their town/city and how it’s changed over the past few decades. Then research a case of local energy poverty e.g. neighbourhood, zone or group. Research actors involved e.g. people from different areas, socio-economic status, energy producers, government officials. Students take roles and interact with each other about the use and availability of energy.

Finally, students write, individually and from the perspective of the actor represented, a manifesto about their final position in the debate and a proposal for action that takes into account the complexity of the perspectives showed during the debate.