Analysis of the Global Climate Change Controversy: A Problem-Based Learning Activity
In this problem-based learning activity, students investigate positions held by various stakeholders regarding global climate change (GCC). Students work in teams to identify and evaluate: the interest of a stakeholder in GCC, the position held by the stakeholder, the rationale/evidence used to support the position, and the response of the stakeholder to GCC in light of their stated position. After completing the research phase of the activity, teams share their findings with classmates via short presentations. Students then have the opportunity to critique the positions (and rationale) of the various stakeholders and to form and provide rationale for their own positions.
This activity provides students with the opportunity to view the topic of global climate change through the lenses of various stakeholders. Students will be better equipped to effectively communicate with individuals that represent different sectors. Furthermore, students will have opportunity to assess quality of claims and logic of proposed actions in relation to available GCC data.
- Engages students in civil discourse/ communications that lead to more effective decisions
- Encourages students to view the topic of GCC from a variety of perspectives
- Advances student literacy around sustainability issues
- Encourages self-reflection and personal development of their voice for solving societal challenges
Higher-order thinking skills developed by this activity include critical thinking and evaluation of data/claims.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
It is useful to begin the activity with a discussion about: 1) the value of being aware of the positions and underlying rationale of various stakeholders surrounding a controversial topic and 2) the importance of conducting research and reporting findings in an unbiased manner (see teaching notes for additional information). Following the discussion, divide students into teams of 3-5 and assign each team a stakeholder group to research. Students should refer to the "Part 1 – Research" section of the attached document to guide their online research. As teams are conducting their research, circulate through the room to answer questions and inquire about student progress, interesting findings, etc. After completing their research, teams will prepare a short presentation to share with their classmates. Encourage students to ask questions during team presentations. Students can use the table found in the attached document to record and organize the findings of each team. The instructor can use the attached grading rubric to assess the presentations if desired. After the presentations, students (as teams or as a whole class) will address the question presented in "Part II – Sharing Your Findings" of the attached document. As students consider this question in light of the research presented by their classmates, they will recognize the overwhelming consensus that exists about global climate change. "Part III – Personal Reflection" can be completed outside of class. Highlight the instructions for this section; students should not only discuss their personal opinion, but should also discuss their rationale and include an assessment of several stakeholder perspectives presented in class. Instructors can use the attached grading rubric for assessment of the reflections.
Analysis of the GCC Controversy student handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Jul25 13)Instructor Guide for GCC Controversy Activity (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Jul25 13)