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.). Create a webbing game to play with the rest of the group or a class of a pupils of a given age range.

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.

Mapping Method

  1. From different documentary resources, create a mind map highlighting the issues related to aquatic life e.g. where seas have been overfished, coral destroyed, or where seas/rivers have been polluted.
  2. Identify links between areas where there is concern, fishing practices and other possible causes (industry pollution, sewage etc.)
  3. Identify links between these issues, social and economic behaviours, climate change and sea-level rise
  4. Identify possible courses of action to address issues found and sustainably exploit marine resources and address sea-level rise
  5. Prioritize these courses of action.

Use the webbing game to illustrate how natural and human phenomena which cause climate change are interconnected and reliant on each other:
Various pictures showing a variety of consequences of climate change are distributed among the group e.g. sea level increase, desertification, melting glaciers, flooding….
Members discuss together what they know about each and the underlying causes (both human and natural), which are listed and “assigned” within the group.
Group leader then moves randomly amongst the group asking what connections each thing has with other items. A ball of string is then passed between each to show the connections and to gradually build up a web between them.
Group leader then creates a scenario whereby one of them is removed, and then another and the web starts to collapse.
This should lead to input on the interconnectivity, complexity and systemic nature of root causes, deriving from the current development model causing climate change.

Let your students watch the Seeing the Bigger Picture video series. This series includes seven videos and each is not more than 1 minute. Each video ends with a question, so watch one video, then ask the groups to discuss their response to the question posed. Students should take notes on individual or group sheets of paper.

The videos lead the students to conclude that some familiar environmental ‘solutions’ can cause damaging effects on jobs and the economy overall. The activity then goes on to investigate a different sort of economy: a circular economy, which is regenerative by design.

This activity could be completed in one hour, but we recommend taking more time so the class has time to digest the information and properly tackle each question raised.

In groups, students analyse various photos of different settlements. Each group works on a different type of settlement in terms of region, context and time period, identifying the main key characteristics of the settlement and connecting these with the fulfilment of human needs as well as environmental and socioeconomic factors.

Each group presents the findings to the rest of the group. Then all the students discuss the differences and similarities between the various types of settlements over time in different regions and discuss whether the settlements, as systems, satisfy human, environmental and economic needs or not.

Brainstorm factors and indicators for a city or a community to be sustainable. Classify and discuss responses and consider why they are considered to be sustainable. Decide collectively on a set of sustainable indicators for a community/city.

In groups, create a model of a community or city that meets these indicators and then present it to the rest of the group.

Game-example: DisCoord – The Disaster Coordination game

DisCoord is a strategy and role-playing game in which each of the five players embodies a local leader, called Local Chairperson 3 (LC3) in Uganda. Each player manages a Sub-County which is composed of 15 villages. Together the five Sub-Counties form a District, which therefore has to be managed jointly by the 5 players.  As a Sub-County leader, a player must ensure that the population is satisfied or happy with his/her leadership. Since population is growing, floods and landslides frequently occur, and money is in permanent short supply. The players need to discuss and interact with each other as policies need to be proposed and enacted at district level through a majority vote.

The strength of the game lies in its strong connection with the daily reality of farmer communities in Uganda, as well as in its combination of fixed game rules with random features and sufficient flexibility for players to define their own course of action. Players quickly get along with the game rules and can therefore start experimenting different strategies during the game. Different gameplays may lead to very different outcomes at the end of the game. While the game can be played without facilitator by players that are used to board games (and reading game rules), the presence of a facilitator is recommended if the game is being played with policy makers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Small group activity: use ‘placemat’ methodology: Each member writes down his/her favourite items in their room at home. Compared together highlighting similarities.

The group chooses one of the similar items (e.g. laptop, bookshelf, smartphone, pictures).

Group research information about that item e.g. production, transport, trading, labour, added value; and the effects on people (e.g. Who produces, transports and in what circumstances?), planet (e.g. What are the ecological effects?) and economy (e.g. Who benefits? Who loses?).
Group discussion on positive and negative impact of the item. Brainstorm how to turn the negatives into positives and reflect on the effects these changes would have on the personal life of the group members (higher prices, different colours/ shapes; less sophisticated).

Possible further activities

Ask students to identify things that the economy currently needs to grow e.g. fossil fuels, land based resources and minerals. Now set up a webbing game but using these components linked to the economy in the middle. Simulate the tensions created and the strains on the system as the economy grows.

Now ask one group to do the same again and another do the traditional (natural environment) webbing game and then join together to look for links between them.

Again look for tensions and strains on the system as the economy grows.
With the two groups combined, they try to represent a model that avoids these tensions and strains.

The teacher brings the statistics of the 5 countries with the lowest access to water worldwide (in 2018: Eritrea 19%, Papua New Guinea 37%, Uganda 39%, Ethiopia 39%, Dem Rep of the Congo 39%).

Students divide into 5 groups, each group chooses a country and investigates reasons for poor access to water (e.g. in 2018: Eritrea 19%, Papua New Guinea 37%, Uganda 39%, Ethiopia 39%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 39%), taking into account geopolitical factors and scale issues, as well as socio-cultural and economic conditions that can create inequalities. The groups share their findings and discuss commonalities, differences and interdependencies.