Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Promoting Environmental Sustainability

Type
WebQuest

Description

Research a variety of environmental concerns and investigate their local and global relevance. Through several Peace Corps Volunteers' stories, students will see examples of communities around the world are working to address environmental issues. Students will conduct research on environmental issues in their own communities and suggest actions for addressing local environmental priorities.

Introduction

The survival of all living things and the wellbeing of all communities depends on the conservation of our natural environment. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals call for worldwide efforts to ensure environmental sustainability.

Issues such as deforestation, habitat and biodiversity loss, overuse of natural resources, air and water pollution, and global climate change all pose challenges for communities across the globe. Understanding environmental problems, their causes, and their solutions is critical a sustainable global future.

Task

You will investigate major global environmental concerns and see examples of how Peace Corps Volunteers are working with communities across the globe to address these issues. You will also learn how youth in Costa Rica conducted community surveys to identify, analyze, and address issues of local concern.

Following a similar process, you will conduct research on environmental issues in your community. Working with a team, you will collaboratively develop a report with suggested actions for addressing local environmental priorities.

Print the information collection worksheet and use it to record information as you work through the WebQuest.

Evaluation

Your work will be evaluated according to the chart on the extension tab below.

Materials & Procedures

Procedures

  1. Global environmental sustainability priorities

    Read the introductions to the United Nations Environmental Program’s six priorities:

    1. Climate change
    2. Disasters and conflicts
    3. Ecosystems management
    4. Environmental governance
    5. Hazardous substances
    6. Resource efficiency

    • In your own words, write a brief (no more than 1-2 sentences) description of each issue.
    • How do these issues compare and contrast with the issues the Environmental Protection Agency identifies as important environmental concerns in the United States?
    • Based on what you already know, which priorites do you think are most important for the world to address? Why do you think so? 

  2. How can communities address global environmental concerns?

    Below are the stories of several Peace Corps Volunteers who are working with communities on environmental issues.

    For each issue, consider how it relates to your own community. Then view the Peace Corps Volunteer story for a specific example of how a community worked to address the issue.

    Issue: Species Conservation

    Find an endangered species that lives in your state using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Program’s website. Search for the species on the NatureServe website and read about its conservation status.

    What are some possible reasons the species is endangered?

    View the slide show Tracking Turtles in the Western Pacific.

    Which actions the community used could help protect endangered species where you live?

    Issue: Waste Production and Disposal

    Review the Environmental Protection Agency's statistics on municipal waste production in the United States.

    What trends do you notice in the amount and types of waste Americans generate each year?

    View Bottle Construction ‘How-to’ to learn how communities in Guatemala are creatively reusing waste materials.

    What are some ways you could reuse waste materials in your community?  Visit the EPA's What You Can Do page for ideas.

    Issue: Climate Change and Energy Use

    Renewable energies like solar, wind, and hydropower can provide alternatives to burning fossil fuels, which scientists largely agree contribute to global climate change. Look at the climate change map.

    What are the effects nearest to where you live?

    View the slide show from Costa Rica, Sustained by the Sun.

    How do you think communities can benefit from renewable energy projects in the short-term and the long-term?

  3. Identifying issues of community concern

    View the slide show below to learn how youth in Costa Rica identified environmental issues to address in their communities.

    Alliance of Environmental Leaders by Brittany Johnson, Costa Rica (2008-2011)

    • What were some of the main issues the youth identified in Costa Rica? Do we experience any of these issues in the United States?
    • Why do you think there were regional differences in terms of the most pressing issues they identified? What kinds of regional differences would you expect in the United States?
  4. Community survey

    Working with a partner or small team, conduct some preliminary research to identify an environmental issue in your community. Your information sources can include local news sources, local government websites, personal interviews of community members, and personal observations.

    Once your team has selected an issue, conduct further in-depth research and create a one-page fact sheet describing the problem to community members and recommending at least five actions to help address it.

    Compile all of the fact sheets your class creates to provide an overview of key environmental issues affecting your community. If possible, come up with a way to publicize your findings or take action using some of the recommendations identified.

  5. Conclusion

    Reflect on your experience by writing about or discussing:

    • How do human activities affect the environment, and how does environmental change affect human activities?
    • What are the world’s most pressing environmental issues and why?
    • How can you help address environmental concerns locally and globally?

Extensions

  Beginning
1
Developing
2
Qualified
3
Exemplary
4
Score
 
Students identify and describe major local and global environmental concerns Environmental concerns not clearly identified or described Few environmental concerns clearly identified and described. Variety of environmental concerns identified and described. Variety of environmental concerns identified and described in depth.  
Students compare and contrast environmental issues in other communities with environmental issues in their own communities No evidence that student considered similarities and differences in community issues  Some evidence that student considered similarities and differences in community issues  Clear evidence that student considered similarities and differences in community issues  Clear evidence that student considered similarities and differences in community issues; similiarities and differences are well articulated.  
Students conduct community research using multiple sources Student research does not take sufficient advantage of available information resources Student research takes some advantage of available information resources Student research takes  advantage of multiple available information resources Student takes advantage of multiple available information resources and locates unique sources of information  
Students develop recommendations for environmental action in their own community Recommendations for action not clearly developed Few recommendations for action are clearly developed. A variety of recommendations for action are clearly developed. A variety of creative and feasible recommendations for action are clearly developed.  
World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.