Either individually or in small groups students identify a social justice issue or ‘cause’ (possibly one discussed earlier, see Attentiveness). Investigate as many ways as possible to promote, support, engage with or fight for this cause, e.g. campaigning (How?), writing (Who to? Why?), voting (What level of representation?), pressure groups (Which ones?) and other political structures.

The teacher commissions to groups of learners different strategic plans to introduce the preservation of biodiversity in their own school (e.g. school gardening, food provision, use of paper and communications, etc.). The learners investigate how these issues are currently dealt with in their school, what can be improved or changed and present a plan of action to be discussed in the classroom and then with the school board

  1. The students receive a set of pictures representing the beauty of life under water. In groups they discuss what they like about it.
  2. Each group then receives a picture representing one problem related to life under water (e.g. overfishing, plastic pollution, modification of water temperatures and thus marine ecosystems, oil spill, nitrate pollution, etc.). The students discuss what the problem is and a) how it impacts on them and their feelings, b) who/what it might impact (including non-human beings).
  3. The groups receive a set of measures that are undertaken to solve some problems related to life below water (all groups have the same set, e.g. water treatment plants, organic agriculture, environmental protection laws and officers, tax incentives, beach clean-ups). Amongst the set of suggested solutions, students in groups choose the ones that could help improve the situation represented on their picture and think of other solutions if possible.
  4. In plenary, the solutions are then classified (e.g. technical/governance/social/economic and/or individual/collective). The interaction between different kinds of solutions is discussed.

Select a situation known to the group and decide on the core problem. What are the effects of this problem? What are the other problems which contribute to the core problem? (NB Avoid writing down a lack of solutions as problems, rather state the problem itself that needs to be solved, e.g. rather than writing “Lack of awareness on effects of dumping”, say, “Townspeople dump waste in street.”) Build up the ‘tree’ from the core problem in the middle with causes below and effects above:

Add more cards to extend the tree as the discussion develops. Draw a line around a certain part of the tree in order to define a manageable project.

Rules of engagement:

This technique enables all stakeholders to participate in a sophisticated discussion of causes and effects.

NB To turn this into a hierarchy of project objectives, simply turn each card around and write a positive version of the ‘problem’ that was written there.

School project. Set up a development partnership with another school from the Global South. Exchange with other students from the partner school and create a project where you develop new strategies and practices of sustainable production and consumption.

Teacher and students choose an issue about their city and community that they consider unsustainable, e.g. waste management, or lack of green space in the community, or transportation systems’ problems… and organise a debate in the school, inviting local authorities and other stakeholders for the discussion. Based on the various views and opinions that the interested parties express, decide on specific actions that can be adopted to tackle the problem and set a step by step plan for their implementation as well as the responsibilities that each group of stakeholders will take.

Game-example: Gifts of Culture

Gifts of Culture is a board game role-playing simulation of a diverse cultural community. Players become the representatives of various groups living in the flood-prone valley. Though they represent various views and ideals, they all have the same goal – for their group to have a better life. How will they achieve that with the constant threat of flood looming above their heads?

Each of the actions players can undertake has its advantages and disadvantages. Information sharing and collaboration can greatly improve their outcomes, however, diverse cultural backgrounds make it very difficult.

The Gift of Culture allows players to experience how cultural differences can lead to troubles but at the same time they can also be helpful. Play and use the “gift of culture” to improve community flood resilience.

Players understand different ways how cultural factors affect disaster preparedness and ability to cope.

Players improve collaboration and information sharing skills, especially in regards of collaboration between organizations and individuals representing diverse cultural backgrounds leading to improved disaster resilience

Players increase their understanding of disaster risk for heterogeneous cultural backgrounds.

Students search the internet for ‘Green StartUps’ with innovations that can be useful for the school (or personal life). Example: SmartSkin (a coating that changes windows into solar panels and still can be looked through).

Small groups, choose an item to work on. They discuss this item with the school’s facility manager and try to communicate with the owner of the StartUp to talk about the start up process: how, why, when, what will the future be, expected cost etc.

Students then report back to the facility manager with a strong emphasis on the ecological gain and start calculations: what would it cost to implement the innovation? The final report is sent to the facility manager; or, even better: presented to them.

Group activity. Set up work context scenario, e.g. a café. 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 increase sales, increase profits, become more environmentally friendly. Groups share experiences and outcomes. 

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.