Students should understand the complex natural and human processes involved in the earth's climate system. They should explore questions related to social and personal responsibility, impact of local and global actions, implications for ecological diversity, and potential effects of climate change and mitigation strategies on economic growth and sustainability for developing nations.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Groups of students will be expected to learn about climate change from multiple perspectives, including from among the following:
- Economic investors in industrialized and developing nations
- International policy makers, including representatives from governmental agencies and non governmental agencies
- Human rights groups, including representatives from health organizations and environmental protection groups
- Political action committees
- Elected officials
(1) The class will be divided into 4-6 groups. All students are to read from the listing of suggested online resources provided. In addition, each group will be given a specific perspective to become "experts" on for the International Council. Each group is expected to become expert representatives of their group's position, yet remain open-minded about the worth of what each other group has to contribute to the discussion. (worth 25 pts)
(2) Each group will prepare a detailed, yet concise written summary of their position [ecologists, economic investors in industrialized and developing nations, international policy makers, (including representatives from governmental agencies and NGOs), and human rights groups, (including representatives from health organizations and environmental protection groups)]. Your group's summary should be typed, 2 - 3 pages, and can be used during the International Council. (worth 20 pts)
(3) During the international meeting, each group will present, according to the protocol, their summary information, as well as prepared responses to Question Sets A & B. These prepared responses should be typed, and represent in-depth thinking of all group members. (worth 30 pts)
(4) Following the International Council, each student will be asked to respond to open-ended questions about the instructional value of the process of structured academic controversy, as well as a personal reflection on the broader issues.
Town Council agenda (Microsoft Word 26kB Nov3 08) with question sets
Teaching Notes and Tips
Also see: Communicating Global Climate Change: Using Debate to Engage Integrative Learning. This series of video clips from MERLOT/ELIXR demonstrates the use of debate as a strategy for engaging student with the issues surrounding climate change. Project materials, timelines and PowerPoint slides are also included.
Students are expected to prepare their comments ahead of time, so those can be assessed with criteria that would be used with an essay or research report. Student or team performances during the International Council can be assessed from the standpoint of effective communication, presentation style, respect and listening to other perspectives, or quality and organization of information. For help with developing rubrics, go to Rubistar.
1. What roles do natural processes have in producing climate change? What is the likelihood that climate change is more the result of natural cycles than of human activities?
2. What roles do humans and various types of human activity play in the processes of climate change?
3. What direct effects does climate change have on ecological diversity? What are the indirect effects on ecological diversity?
4. Should economic progress be restrained to minimize greenhouse gas emissions? What are the economic drawbacks of not requiring reduced global emissions?
5. Should economic or technological progress in developing nations be limited to minimize the emission of additional greenhouse gases? What responsibilities do industrialized nations have in making emissions cuts?
6. What is the trade-off between economic development and ecological stability? Can economic progress occur without adversely affecting natural environmental conditions?
More importantly, use of the structured academic controversy format can change student beliefs and attitudes.
Student beliefs and self-knowledge can be assessed through a short written response about the instructional value of the process of structured academic controversy, as well as a personal reflection on the broader issues. Student understanding of the complexity of climate change can be assessed through an essay exam in which students expand on one or more of the guiding questions used in the activity.