Social Studies can help students consider global warming and the impact of GHG emissions with a focus on the cultural, economic, and political influences on our thinking, decisions, and actions.
The following are a few example questions that might help initiate or deepen student discussion and exploration –
- The collapse of some ancient civilizations has been attributed to practices that conflicted with their ecological setting. What lessons do the past have for us as we consider current practices in relation to global warming?
- Example: the demise of the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent due, in part, to agriculture
- How do governmental agencies address global warming and other environmental concerns?
- How do corporate boardrooms address global warming and other environmental concerns?
- How can we as citizens participate more effectively in shaping government policies and decisions on environmental concerns and sustainable practices?
- How well does the mainstream or commercial media do in providing meaningful coverage of global warming and climate change?
- How does the extent and depth of media coverage on climate compare to coverage on entertainment and sports?
- What are the meanings and usage of labels such as “Tree-Hugger,” “Climate Denier,” “Social Justice,” “Inconvenient Truth,” “ Conservative,” “Liberal,” and “People Power”?
- If the sea level rises by just 1 meter, how many people will be displaced in the U.S.? How many will be displaced in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands?
- What will be the impacts if the sea-level rise is 10 meters, as some current projections indicate is possible?
- Practices that have short-term economic value but are not ecologically sustainable, may lead ultimately to the collapse of complex societies like our own.
- An informed citizenry is be needed to move government and corporate policies and decisions towards sustainability, perhaps generating alternative approaches.
Additional Resources for Social Studies
- Citizen Climate Curriculum for Grades 9-12 Climate Generation website. Emphasizes civic engagement and understanding the critical and complex climate solutions being discussed on the national and international stage, including equity in climate change international negotiations.
- Climate Adaptation – State of Practice in U.S. Communities. Kresge Foundation, November 2016.
- Climate Change and Your Community Two short video clips from PBS.
- Climate Change Education Stanford University, School of Earth, Energy, & Environmental Sciences website. Curriculum for middle school and high school.
- Climate Change Lesson Plans for Educators US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lessons & activities tied to learning goals.
- Cross-Curricular Math, English, and Science Lesson Open Educational Resources website.
- Global Warming: Natural & Man-Made Causes, Conservation & Debate Social Studies for Kids website.
- Rethinking Schools. Quarterly magazine committed to a strong public education system and social justice – features teachers describing real classroom experiences, including teaching on climate, environmental health, and climate justice.
- How to Teach High-School Students to Spot Fake News. Slate.com, 2016.
- Let’s Talk About Climate Change Climate Change Live website. Educator’s Toolkit, lesson plans, and common misconceptions.
- Making Room for Climate Change in Social Studies Education Climate Generation website. Using climate change and the COP process to support the C3 Framework for social studies.
Also see Economics & Business, Government, History, Resources That Apply to Many Subject Areas, and Teacher-Recommended Readings for Students.