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International Environmental Politics


Students analyze five major environmental issues. Activities, based on selected lectures from a Stanford University course on International Environmental Politics, encourage students to think critically about environmental problems, to consider multiple viewpoints on proposed policies to improve the environment, and to identify the policies that will be most effective in accomplishing the desired goal. Students also learn how their personal decisions can affect the state of the environment.
Curriculum Link: Author: Gregory Francis, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)

Expected Student Outcomes/Objectives

Students will:
• critically evaluate policy measures;
• list several ways that governments and international organizations can work together to address environmental problems of a global scale;
• use counterfactual arguments to make informed causation judgments;
• generate a list of measures to promote compliance and judge the effectiveness of each measure; and
• understand the importance of personal behavior changes in affecting environmental change.

Description of Activities

Context-Setting: Students define the "natural environment" and draft a list of environmental problems. They are introduced to causal analysis and the use of counterfactual argumentation then gain practice in employing counterfactual arguments by examining a range of theories on why frog mutations are increasing across the United States.
Lesson One, Environment and Security, investigates the relationship between environmental scarcity and national security. Students first compare personal security with national security, then consider how warfare harms the environment. Students learn about the debate on environmental security, then "test" the arguments of two scholars by examining South Africa under apartheid and comparing six case studies.
In Lesson Two, Population, students consider how population growth affects the environment. They s learn a formula that attempts to quantify the impact that population has on the environment. They generate a list of factors that determine the number of children that couples choose to have, then learn about China's restrictive family planning policy. They use a framework for evaluating policies to assess China's family planning policy. Students then consider which of China's approaches to reducing population growth are acceptable to them and formulate possible policies for controlling population growth. Finally, students ask whether their country should institute a population policy, and if so, what such a policy should be.
Lesson Three, Sustainable Development, examines: How can improvement in quality of life be achieved without creating environmental harm? Students consider how they measure "progress" and improvements in their own quality of life. They look at the resources used in their daily lives and compare them with those of previous generations. Through the case study of China's Three Gorges Dam, students then attempt to reconcile economic development with environmental concerns in a broader context. Finally, students use an "Ecological Footprint Calculator" to estimate of the amount of land required to sustain their lifestyle and possible ways to reduce their resource use. Two optional activities allow students to track the waste they generate in a week and to identify ways to reduce their families' utility usage.
Lesson Four, Free Trade and the Environment, tackles how free trade impacts the environment. Students record where some of their personal items originated and reflect on the environmental costs of transnational production. Next, they complete a causality chart that traces the ways in which increasing free trade may affect the environment. Students are introduced to compliance mechanisms, find articles on how specific free trade areas have dealt with environmental disputes and create posters that summarize their case study and the compliance techniques used. Finally, students work in groups to draft environmental protection provisions to a fictional free trade agreement.
Lesson Five, Climate Change, Students simulate international climate change negotiations. In groups, students read a background piece on the history of these negotiations before assuming the roles of delegates of nine countries in two rounds of climate change negotiations. Students use policy evaluation skills and knowledge of compliance theory. Then the class votes on the text of a new climate change treaty. Two optional simulations are provided to introduce this unit.

Culminating Activity and/or Assessment

The Epilogue provides a context for students to tie together what they have learned in the module by researching and suggesting a solution for an environmental problem in their school or community. This activity allows students to put their knowledge to action in a personal, meaningful way and provides a means for assessment.

Instructional Materials Needed

VCR or Computers for use with exerpts of Stanford lectures. Realplayer plug-in (free) if using CD-ROM

Instructional Materials Provided

Complete curriculum instructions, handouts, additional resources, and VHS tapes or CD-ROMs (PC or Mac) with lectures.

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Additional criteria

Cost: $54.95

Curriculum type: Unit

Academic subject areas: Laboratory Science; Interdisciplinary; History/Social Sciences

States' Career Clusters: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math; Manufacturing; Government & Public Administration; Finance; Business Management & Administration

California Industry sector(s): Manufacturing and Product Development; Business and Finance

Duration: 22 classroom hours

Grade Targets: 11, 12, Post high school

Level of Expertise for CTE: Capstone/Advanced

Targeted Support Material: Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

Standards Addressed: Detailed documentation of alignment with Common Core, NGSS, C3 or CTE Standards provided

Source: Organization/Publisher-developed

Organization/Publisher: Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education

Curriculum Link:

Reviewer Comments

This is an excellent foundation for an integrated senior project for Green, Government, Finance and Business Academies. It looks at environmental issues within a global context, and provides excellent science-social studies connections. One could imagine adding English or Math to the project easily.

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