Empowering People to Deal with the Effects of Climate Change

Diane Beres, Ripon College
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Initial Publication Date: March 20, 2013


This activity involves viewing three short video segments and then relating the content to the climate change information in their textbook (a general "environmental science" edition) and comparing what they learn about the customs and lifestyle of the focal person in each video to their own.
The videos, produced by OXFAM America, are available to stream from their website and look at situations on three different continents. The runtime in each case is less than ten minutes.
Sahena's story takes place in Bangladesh.
Martina's story takes place in Uganda.
Sharon's story occurs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the USA.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Climate change is affecting people all over the planet now.
People with few material possessions do not necessarily feel deprived.
Individuals can take meaningful action within their community to help mitigate against some of the effects of climate change.
People in this country control a large share of the planet's resources and have made a significant contribution to global warming.
Students need to glean facts from a short video presentation.
Analysis is in the form of comparison, of the three stories and of each story to their own life.
The discussions could be followed up with a writing exercise.
Is it fair that in Uganda food security is affected by the current unpredictability of rainfall? The impacts of climate change are not uniformly distributed across geography.
The big question that students should "take home" is "am I responsible, and if so what should I do about it?"

Context for Use

This classroom activity could be used in a variety of courses where the effects of climate change on people's lives would be an appropriate topic. Some general information about climate change is needed as background, but no particular information about any of the countries is necessary.
A room where web-based content can be projected onto a screen is needed. Class size should be small enough for meaningful discussions (or able to be subdivided into discussion groups).
I find that viewing one segment per day works well. The discussion time can be managed and the activity can be combined with other course business.
The activity also combines well with "water" issues. Too much rain or rain at the wrong time can be as problematic as too little rain.

Description and Teaching Materials

Check the URL's and prescreen the videos. Plan some leading questions to promote discussion, if needed.
Show the videos in class.
Guide the students through discussion the starts with making sure they understood the facts of the story and then moves on to "so what"? Ask questions to elicit contributions.
After two have been watched, compare the two, and then again compare after the third one.

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students' contributions to discussion will demonstrate their comprehension. Additionally, a quiz with some questions testing factual information and one or two giving the opportunity for opinion could be used.

References and Resources

Much other content relevant to climate change, food, water, and community engagement may be found on the OXFAM website.