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Classroom Activities for Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences

This collection of teaching materials allows for the sharing of ideas and activities within the community of geoscience teachers. Do you have a favorite teaching activity you'd like to share? Please help us expand this collection by contributing your own teaching materials.

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Recognizing the Impact of Dominant Culture Privilege part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
This sequence of five assignments, starting with the study of texts, has students taking a look at the concept of dominant culture privilege and then moving them out into their own world to analyze what they're seeing there.

Extending "The Land Ethic" and The Golden Rule to the Whole Biotic Community part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
A component of an Introduction to Ethics course involving research and reporting on a specific sustainability issue. The class presentation will help the student think about extending Leopold's "Land Ethic" and "The Golden Rule" to the whole biotic community.

Ethics, Gender, and Climate Change part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
The purpose of the assignment is twofold: first, to expose students to what is sometimes called a "feminist" or "care" perspective in ethics. The second is for students to apply these abstract ideas in ethics to the very real and complex issues relating to climate change in environmental ethics.

We're Screwed! part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
This course is designed to address the interlocked problems of unwillingness to confront the dimensions of the environmental crisis and the feelings of helplessness and despair that often accompany perceiving the gravity of the situation.

Human Rights and the Environment part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
Selecting one environmental situation students will learn about some basic human rights norms and then analyze that environmental situation in terms of those human rights norms.

Community Questions, Global Answers, and the Ethics of Environmental Responsibility part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
This submission is both a course and an activity using the bioregion as a resource for environmental ethics. The first part of the course is devoted to questions (fact gathering) related to the bioregion. The second part is reflecting and focused on global answers.

Slight of Hand: Egoism and the Tragedy of the Commons part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
Students are introduced to a theory in the Normative Ethics of Behavior (NEB) known as Hedonic Ethical Egoism. They will learn to present and explain the "Invisible Hand Argument for Hedonic Ethical Egoism" shown to depend on the following assumption: that the community as a whole is better off if everyone acts selfishly. This assumption is false as the "Tragedy of the Commons" will show.

Virtues and Climate Change part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
Students create an essay to respond to the question: "What virtues does our society need to foster in people in order for us to be able to respond appropriately to climate change?"

Old Sticks in the Mud: Hazards of Lahars from Mount Rainier Volcano part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
Volcanic debris flows (lahars) flow long distances, bury and aggrade river valleys, and cause long-term stream disturbances and dramatic landscape changes. Students will evaluate the nature, scale, and history of ...

Race and Space part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
This assignment exposes students to racial inequalities in their own communities and helps them to identify the impact of racial segregation on quality of life. The big ideas in this assignment are racial inequality, residential segregation, and environmental justice.