Students are presented with – or select – a current conflict situation (this could be local or international). They should research the background to the conflict, how it came about and look for different perspectives or positions in relation to the issue using contrasting sources (e.g. newspapers, social media, journal articles, political statements).They should make a presentation (e.g. poster, slides, article) that highlights the different views in relation to the conflict and explains their own conclusions.

Learners in groups are asked to enter in the Environmental Justice Atlas and look for socio-environmental conflicts around biodiversity. They are asked to choose one and gather the information and arguments of each side of the conflict (i.e. company extracting natural resource, government, local community and activist, foreign NGOs, etc.). Each member of the group takes the role of an actor and analyses the arguments of this actor, building a SWOT (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities; Threats) analysis grid. The groups present their analysis to the class.

Inquiry method

  1. Collect a variety of documents that relate to (un)sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources from different perspectives.
  2. Make a poster that presents some ideas on the issue separating fact from opinion and assumption.

Prepare materials showing different issues that we need to be aware of, e.g. Potential research bias/agenda due to funding source/ organisational links Different focus depending on media source e.g. tabloid newspaper, serious newspaper, report.Information changes over time as a result of emerging research/developing ideasInfluence that framing can have, i.e. that the way things are presented can potentially guide thinking.
Give each small group a set of materials that focuses on one of the above issues. Ask each group to study their materials to see what they notice.
Whole group – report back what they have noticed.
Plenary discuss the need to be alert and to evaluate sources.

Group activity. Set up production/ consumption related scenario, e.g. a supermarket. Students adopt different roles e.g. manager, older person, pregnant woman, environmentalist, vegan, meat eater. Role-play team meetings based on resolving different issues, e.g. how to change consumer habits, increase profits, become more environmentally friendly. Groups share experiences and outcomes.

Scenario: Local authorities decide to turn a free space in a densely populated community (suffering from urbanization and a lack of green) into a trade centre instead of a community park. A role-play is organised based on this scenario. Different roles are identified as well as conflicting interests and opinions. Students are divided into groups with each group representing one role. The groups collect information in order to build arguments supporting their position. Act out the role-play and explore the issues from different perspectives. At the end of the play, show the problems and issues through a web or concept map so as to indicate their systemic and complex character. The role-play ends with specific decisions that are reviewed and discussed according to their impact on the community.

Game-example: Cantor’s World

At a juncture in human history when we are faced with an environmental crisis, it is critical to understand what impact development has on the environment. Indicators such as GDP and HDI that are used to measure a country’s development do not take into account the environment. To address this gap, in 2012, a trio of organizations under the UN umbrella released a report that spoke about an ‘Inclusive Wealth Index’ (IWI). The IWI is a way to acknowledge and articulate the interconnectedness of the economy, environment, and human wellbeing. The game Cantor’s World has been designed for students and policy makers to learn how the IWI complements other indices. In the game players can experiment with different policy choices and experience first hand the tug-of-war between short-term results and long-term sustainability. The game is designed for Masters’ students of economics, public policy, and sustainability studies, and will be played in universities worldwide. The game was developed by Fields of View in collaboration with UNESCO-MGIEP.

There are many learning benefits to the game. First of all, players are taking policy decisions and understanding their impacts on the three capitals (IWI) and the SDGs – 4 (Quality education), 10 (Reduced inequalities) and 13 (Climate action). During the game, participants experience how policy decisions of different temporal scales impact sustainability. They realize the nature of the relationship between Produced capital and Human capital, and also conflict between individual country-wise objectives and global objectives for achieving SDGs, in particular, SDGs 4, 10 and 13.
Through their own actions in the game, players experience trade-offs, resources, and constraints of policy operationalization and its impact on the productivity and sustainability.

In groups, students analyse different advertisements with different messages e.g. car advertisements with women up front, swiss chocolate; Groups discuss the advertisement from the following viewpoints:

The group then ‘fact checks’ to find a more objective way of displaying the article, including pros and cons of its use. The results are presented and then the group reflect on the process.

Possible further activities: Find out how shop-windows and/or TV-internet adverts use social, political, economic, cultural and/or ecological images.

Useful text: Critical thinking about consumerism and consumer focused industry (from Tilbury, Wortman: Engaging people in sustainability, chapter 3, critical thinking and reflection. IUCN, UK, 2004).

In small groups identify a selection of 5 job roles, products and services that have emerged in recent years. Produce a presentation that shows the extent to which one of these innovations addresses environmental and/or social concerns and suggest improvements.

Divide the learners into two groups. Each group researches green economy benefits and challenges. Then the teacher organises a debate in which one group advocates for the transition towards a green economy while the other advocates for the contrary. Since groups do not have a pre-assigned position, they both should be aware of the pros and cons of a green economy and be able to understand and question the other’s arguments.