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Humans and the Environment

Secondary

Description

Students consider the ethics of human relationships with the environment. Specifically, they consider how practices such as the genetic modification of plants and animals involve a range of ethical positions towards non-human life.

Students work in groups to critique the approach to the environment of a number of selected organizations in terms of the organization's view of the relationship between human and the environment, the interests represented by the organization, and the power of the group to shape social policy. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The lesson is intended to help students become more practised in drilling down so as to identify the assumptions/values that shape the policies and practices of a given organization. 

Strengths

The strengths of the lesson include the following

  • the topic-biotechnology- is and will continue to be a source of considerable debate and discussion in society
  • helping students recognize that a certain set of assumptions/perspectives/values shape our position and that of others on a given issue is important 
  • the case study approach to teaching students how to identify underlying assumptions is effective

Weaknesses

The weaknesses of the lesson include the following

  • the absence of an introductory discussion about assumptions using examples that are relevant to students
  • the choice of organizations and websites that were selected as case studies for student investigation

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The lesson may be used in the following curriculum areas

  • science courses that include attention to the the links among science, technology, society, and the environment
  • science units such as genetics that include attention to biotechnology
  • social studies units that have students discuss probable and preferred futures
  • ethical or religious studies that include reference to the relation between humans and the environment
  • geography courses that include units on human interaction with the environment and resource management

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Genes are the foundation for the diversity of living things
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Philosophy
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Philosophy 12: Examining questions in philosophy allows people to question their assumptions and better understand their own beliefs
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
    • Grade 11
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Scientific & Technological Skills & Attitudes
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Resources, Energy, and Environment
      • Science
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        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
      • Social Studies
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        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Advanced Environmental Science 120:Introduction to the human sphere
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 9
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment
    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography:Resources and Commodities
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
      • Science
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        • Science (Applied): Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems and Human Activity
    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11(College Prep.) Genetics
      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Geography
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        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12 (Univ. Prep.): Biochemistry
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ/College Prep.) Community Action
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Univ./College Prep.) Biotechnology
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 9
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Decisions and Perspectives
    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science 701A: Decisions and Perspectives
        • Science 421A: Decisions and Perspectives
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 11
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Genes are the foundation for the diversity of living things
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Philosophy
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Philosophy 12: Examining questions in philosophy allows people to question their assumptions and better understand their own beliefs
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.

Themes Addressed

  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The lesson is not content driven but process driven. The lesson is intended to help students assess organizations in terms of their approach to the environment, the interests they represent, their perspective on genetic modification, and the responsibilities they assign to humans in their relationships with the environment, particularly in relation to GMOs.  

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

In assessing the various organization's position on genetic modification, students are asked to investigate, discusss and report on a number of questions related to the environmental, economic, and social mind set of each of the organizations.     

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

One of the aims of the lesson is to have students recognize the assumptions, mind set, or world view of a given organization and to recognize how that perspective may shape the position and policies of the organization with respect to the relationship between humans and the environment. 

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

The primary interest of the lesson plan is to enhance the student's ability to look behind an organization in order to identify the fundamental assumptions that guide that organization. The emphasis is on building those intellectual skills that will help students better judge the merits of a given organization in deciding whether to advocate for or take action on behalf of that organization.   

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

In examining the assumptions that selected organizations make about the relation between human and the environment students are identifying the values that guide those organizations. The subsequent class discussion provides an opportunity for the students to clarify their own values on on this critical issue. 

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

The lesson is concerned with how humans might use the power that science and technology has provided in modifying the natural world.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The students are asked to consider the ethics of human relations with the environment by considering how our ethical position to non-human life may influence our view of the genetic modification of plants and animals.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

The debate surrounding the application of biotechnology is both global and local and we are all affected by the practices and policies adopted by organizations and legislators. While this lesson plan outline is generic in its approach to the issue, teachers may choose from any number of local or specifically relevant examples to illustrate the debate.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The lesson is intended to have students begin to consider the type of future offered by biotechnology and what might be their preferred future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are asked to evaluate a number of organizations with respect to their position on the ethics of human relationships with the environment. A number of questions are provided to guide that evaluation along with appropriate resources. The conclusions reached are those of the students. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Poor/Not considered

The issue of the proper application of biotechnology is part of the larger topic of Science, Technology and the Environment found in most Science courses. This particular lesson plan helps students strengthen their language arts skills by having them assess the position of selected organizations on the issue of genetic modification by analyzing their particular websites. The lesson also has relevance for those social studies units that have students discuss probable and preferred futures.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Students are asked to assess selected organizations in terms of their assumptions about human relations with the environment. A number of open questions are provided to guide their inquiry and the website of each of the organizations is provided. The conclusions they reach are based on their own assessment and are shared with others in the class. 

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Students work in groups to assess the organization assigned. While the process involved in the assessment is undifferentiated, students may divide the work load according to their paricular strengths and interests.The sharing of the information gathered may also allow for different skill sets.  

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The debate surrounding the application of biotechnology is both current and relevant and one which the students should begin to consider. The lesson helps students to better participate in that debate by having them aquire the skills that will help them recognize the values/assumptions that are the basis for the positions taken by others in the debate.     

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students are arranged in groups and each group is assigned an organization that they are required to investigate in terms of its assumptions about human relations with the environment. It is left to each group to determine the division of tasks involved in the research and reporting.   

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Teachers may capture formative information about student understanding of the issue addressed as they share their research and conclusions with their classmates.  

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

The lesson is organized so that students work in groups to research and report on selected organizations. Students understanding of the larger issue of our relation with the environment will be enhanced by hearing the variety of perspectives presented as a result of the research of their classmates and from participating in the discussion that may follow.   

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The lesson adopts the case study approach in having students investigate the issue addressed. Students explore the values that shape our relationship with the environment by having them identify the assumptions that are the basis for the activities of a number of organizations that have an interest in the environment.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The lesson is structured so that students are asked to consider the larger question of our relation with the environment, provided with a set of guiding questions, and directed to relevant web resources to carry out their inquiry. Such structure is not necessarily an impediment to learning and teachers and student have a degree of autonomy in pursuing the complexity of the issue once raised. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.