In small groups or pairs, ask the students to research a current refugee crisis. Investigate the reasons behind this forced migration (e.g. war, economic decline, environmental disaster, persecution). Explore the background to these push factors, i.e. why is there… (war, economic decline, etc.). Identify key moments in this story where opportunities were missed to avoid the crisis under investigation and consider alternative actions that might have been helpful at those moments. Given the current situation, visualise a situation in which this crisis is resolved. Suggest the steps that could be taken to reach that point.

The teacher brings maps of the global production networks (GPN) of electronic devices (e.g. mobile phones). The learners are split in groups to discuss particular nodes of the GPN. They are asked to research the impact on biodiversity and natural resources of each part of the chain (e.g. conflict, deforestation in Amazonia, etc.) and to explore the causes and consequences. The group’s results are shared and discussed. An alternative map of socio-environmental conflicts and erosion of biodiversity is built.

Learners are given global (or local) production networks maps of fair electronic devices (e.g. fair phone). The learners are split into groups to discuss particular nodes of the GPN. They research what is the impact on biodiversity and natural resources of each part of the chain. The group’s results are shared and discussed. Finally, the class is split again into two groups to discuss the two potential futures and their likely impacts (benefits and risks).

Scenario method

Students are asked to think in groups about different scenarios to limit overfishing.

  1. First, they conduct research to identify the main issues related to overfishing (factors) and to find solutions. 
  2. In a second step, students place the identified factors on a 2-axes graph (important – important – uninfluenced / predictable – unpredictable), the idea being to identify key factors (three or four at most) on which to make contrasting assumptions (Gaudin, 2013, p. 99). 
  3. Third, students write three or four scenarios that they think are relevant, such as: 
    • Competitiveness, confidence in science
    • Social and environmental wellbeing
    • Trend scenario.

Future visioning

In pairs: consider two scenarios, 30 years in the future: one in which the negative effects of climate change have increased and one where mitigation of those effects has started. List the main causes for the improvement of climate change.
In small groups, composed by 3-4 pairs, put together the main elements identified, and delineate a new common positive scenario. Then, reflect together which steps need to be taken in the next 5 years to get to that vision.
Reflect together on the difficulty to have a clear long term vision when so many unpredictable factors are involved.

Futures workshop

Describe the current state of practice, reflecting on a global perspective but also on your personal lifestyle habits, by drawing a picture of the state of art. Then think about a potential future scenario in 50 years from now. What do you want to see differently? What can remain? Why?
Share your thoughts with your classmates.

Teacher asks students to “travel in time” and imagine a sustainable version of their community or city in 2050. Students are asked to explain and justify their answers.

Students work in groups and use air photos or Google Earth systems to create a model of their community or city as it is nowadays.

Then they share ideas about the things that they like/dislike, whether they think that their city is sustainable or not, and discuss what they want to change in their model for their city/community to become more sustainable. They amend their model and transform it accordingly. Finally, each group presents its model to the rest of the class, describing which current features and characteristics of their city they consider unsustainable, explaining the changes that have to be made to transform their city into a sustainable one.

Game-example: The World’s Future

The game is an interactive role-playing simulation game which enables players to face the great challenges of our time: How can we use limited resources to achieve the goals? Is it possible to meet competing needs without trade-offs? Can food production provide for all without negative effects on essential natural ecosystems? How can we increase our efforts in climate change mitigation, while at the same time generating enough energy for all? And what role do we – consumers, producers, governments and NGOs – play in the implementation of the goals?

Learners can shape the future of this micro-world and improve the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants. Dive into the role of a consumer, an energy or food producer, a federal government or an organization of civil society and strive for the global goals together.

Students explore the ‘smartcitiesworld’ website, looking for innovations that meet a need for their school or personal life and are ecologically an improvement. Examples from the site: ‘modular construction, home-sharing platforms and rental tools could be the answer to housing challenges’; ‘the public must be fully engaged in the UK’s net-zero transition’.

Discuss and/or research in personal life and/or school: ‘how do I deal with home-, car- or tool- etc. sharing? How can I improve my behaviour on that? How can I diminish my energy consumption, even try to get it net-zero? What are possibilities in my school when it comes to sharing car, bike, tools etc.? How can the school support students housing by setting up modular apartment constructions? Is my school net-zero? Can we diminish energy consumption?

Questions like that lead to action plans – and action plans lead to action!
If the ‘smartcitiesworld’ website does not give enough clues to work with, students can look for other sites (Het Groene Brein, Green Deals etc.).

The results of the research, raised questions, action plans and (hopefully and eventually) actions are evaluated. It is important to include as many stakeholders as possible in the process!

In pairs: considering a society they are familiar with, draw a simple picture representing their view of it 100 years ago, 50 years ago and today. Draw another to show how they picture it 50 years from now. On the future picture, write down pros and cons of this vision. Now draw another picture of 50 years from now that tries to avoid any of the cons – what does it look like? What steps need to be taken to get to that vision? Pairs then share their work and thoughts with others.

Students are divided into three groups to work on different scenarios and reveal their implications. One group works with the business as usual scenario (energy production and consumption follow the same trends as today). Another group works with a scenario based on the spread of solar energy in which consumption remains the same as today, while the third group works with a scenario in which energy consumption is considerably reduced. The three groups present findings and discuss together what would be the best scenario and route to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid the 2ºC temperature increase by 2100.