Case Studies: What Would You Do?

Divide learners into small groups to debate and discuss environmental dilemmas and possible plans of action.

Objective

To develop values and beliefs related to the environment and to consider possible environmental actions

Materials

Copies of dilemmas for each group

Time

30-45 minutes

Procedure

Before the session begins, compose a series of environmental dilemmas appropriate to your community. An example from Peace Corps/Armenia is below. Once the kids have gathered, divide the participants into teams; give each a copy of the environmental dilemmas and proposed solutions you have composed. Each team must decide which solution they think is best. After discussion time, each team will tell what they chose and why.

You can use this activity to reinforce “right” answers that you have gone over previously, or you can choose dilemmas that are deliberately ambiguous in order to stimulate enthusiastic debate and development of personal values.

Examples That Feature Different Alternatives

Example 1. One day you are walking through a park with a good friend, who is eating food out of a plastic bag. When your friend is finished eating, they drop the bag on the ground. You ask your friend to pick it up, but they refuse, with the reasoning that this is a public area and therefore it is not important to care about it.

In this situation, what would you do?

a) Again ask your friend to pick up the trash.
b) Pick up the trash yourself.
c) Use this as an educational opportunity to tell your friend about the problems that littering causes in the environment.
d) Do nothing.
e) Something else (be specific).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is littering a problem in your community? If yes, how?
  2. How does littering affect your personal environment?
  3. What problems does littering create for others (including animals) in your community?
  4. What can you or other members of your community do about this problem?

Example 2. You live near a wooded area where you like to watch wildlife and enjoy the shade from the many tall trees. One day you discover that your neighbors are planning to cut down all the trees. You ask them nicely not to cut down the trees so the trees can serve both as shade and as homes for different types of animals. They laugh at you and say no.

In this situation, what would you do?

a) Plead with them again to preserve the area for wildlife, etc.
b) Move to a different place.
c) Replace the trees cut down with baby trees.
d) Use this as an educational opportunity to tell them about the importance of trees in the environment.
e) Do nothing.
f) Something else (be specific).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is the cutting down of trees a problem in your community? If yes, how?
  2. How does cutting down trees affect your personal environment?
  3. What problems does cutting down trees create for other members (including animals) of your community?
  4. What can you or other members of your community do about this problem?

Example 3. You are a builder/mason. You have recently been given a grant by an international organization to renovate a large city building. As part of the renovation, you are required to dispose of construction debris in an environmentally safe manner. However, there is no money specifically for this. 

In this situation, what would you do?

a) Rent a truck and ship the construction debris to the official city landfill 15 km away.
b) Take the debris to an unofficial, but commonly used, dumping site on the river 1 kmaway.
c) Leave the debris piled near the renovated building.
d) Something else (be specific).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is waste disposal a problem in your community? If yes, how?
  2. How does waste disposal affect your personal environment?
  3. What problems does waste disposal create for other members (including animals) of your community?
  4. What can you or other members of your community do about this problem?

Examples That Focus on Solid Waste and Do Not Present Alternative Actions

  1. You know that there is a waste problem now and that the problem is growing. You want to start recycling, but your parents don’t seem to have much interest. What do you do?
  2. At the end of an outdoor party, your friends start throwing bottles into the river even though there is a garbage can nearby. The bottles break and pieces of glass are scattered down below. You know this makes the river unsafe and ugly. They are throwing more bottles. What do you do?
  3. Your friend just bought some candy. You eat the candy, and your friend tries to throw the wrapper into a garbage can and misses. You both laugh, and your friend starts walking away. What do you do?
  4. You go to visit some of your family on the other side of town. You notice that your uncle dumps his garbage on the side of his hill where it goes down onto the street. You see kids walking by the mess and notice that the water flows down the street, carrying this garbage. What do you do?
  5. Your family has a large garden. You have always fertilized with cow manure, but you need more for the garden. You’ve talked about composting with your family, but they continue to throw the kitchen scraps down the drain or in the garbage. What do you do?
  6. You are becoming aware that litter is ugly and dangerous. But when you pick garbage up and throw it in the can, sometimes people laugh at you. What do you do?
  7. You walk down the street and notice some kids in front of you who stop and pick up some litter and throw it away. You think this is wonderful. What do you do?
  8. You find an empty can and some plastic bottles on the street. You bring them home to reuse as something else. You use them as planters, and they look good. Your mother compliments you and is very happy. What do you do?
  9. You want to start a cleanup crew. You meet once a month to clean a specific area around the town. People notice the difference and like it. You know you need more people to continue the project. What do you do?
  10. You notice an abundance of litter and think that some of these things can be reused for something else. But you can’t think of all the ideas and don’t know how to use some of your ideas. What do you do?

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Follow up by discussing the responses the students give. If the answers are negative, try to talk about them. What can we do to change behavior and make cleaning up the environment more acceptable?
  2. Students could also do a survey of their community to assess the community’s opinion on pollution, and find an idea for a class environmental activity.

This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Armenia.

Related Lessons

View All
Read More
Read More
Read More