Session 1: The problem of stuff
In this session students will look at how a common classroom chair is made. By looking at the whole lifecycle of the chair ‘from cradle to grave’, students will be encouraged to develop their ideas around the sustainability of manufacturing and production. Students are encouraged to connect the wastefulness of the chair manufacture with current economic models of consumption. Is this consumerism the cause of the current ecological, economic and social stress facing the planet?
Session 2: Is ‘less bad’ the same as ‘good’?
Will reducing waste and increasing the efficiency of resource use bring about a more sustainable quality of life, or is this just a case of ‘being a little less bad, and not really being good’? Current legislation encourages this method of behaviour, but is it the most effective approach to take? By considering a number of case studies students will examine the current approach to sustainability and if it is the best process for bringing about a sustainable life for all.
Session 3: Waste equals food
In this session students will consider whether our current approach to sustainability will work in the long term. Possible new ways of thinking are introduced to consider different ways of organising how the stuff, goods and services we consume are made. Practical activities are used to identify that waste can be an essential point of the system, which is all part of a cycle. Students will get the opportunity to compare the characteristics of living and human systems, and consider what the impact would be of organising human systems along the same principles as living systems.
Session 4: Is low carbon enough?
In this session a carbon cycle model is used to explore new perspectives on carbon issues and climate change. By reviewing this cycle students will look at climate change issues from the perspective of carbon as food within a closed loop system, where we are producing too much food while reducing the ability to store carbon. Using group activities students will look at ways of capturing and storing this excess food.
Session 5: Design as if you give a damn
Is it possible to make things using the living systems, closed loop or cyclical approach? The activities in this session show how this could be possible and a case study shows how products can be made through organising biological ingredients on a cycle. Students will also consider how the closed loop approach can be encouraged by looking at the impact of leasing products and services instead of buying them.
Session 6: Getting around
This session begins by looking at how our world is structured around being very mobile and how this mobility may make our lifestyles more expensive. Students are asked to consider their travel to school and how their mobility may be restructured using a more closed loop approach. This session also includes a case study on Vauban in Germany, a suburb that has been designed with different approaches to mobility in mind.
Session 7: Food after oil
Consider the relationship between oil and food and how closely their prices are related. Students will look at the ingredients of an American breakfast and by using analysis and data discover that our current food supply is reliant on oil through transport, oil-based pesticides and fertilisers. This session also includes the case study of a farm where the farmer takes a more closed loop approach to food production.
Session 8: But energy isn’t in short supply – is it?
We are consistently told that our water and energy resources are in short supply. This session is designed to encourage students to look at where we get our energy from, how we think about energy and issues to do with waste. Students will also consider whether energy is in fact in short supply and also create plans to deliver sustainable energy to a community.
Session 9: Money and debt drive everything
The economic crisis of 2008 has made everyone look more carefully at how the financial systems of the world work. Few realise that the nature of our economic system, which requires constant growth, almost guarantees that our world will be unsustainable. Students will look at the nature of money and a case study examining how we can better organise our financial system to ensure that money builds a sustainable society.
Session 10: Who controls my drinking water?
This session considers the issues surrounding access to clean drinking water. Students are encouraged to think about the advantages and disadvantages of technology and consider what incentives and barriers there may be to adopting water technology more widely. Students will consider issues of control and the increasing commercialisation of water supplies. They will discuss if sustainable solutions require better technologies as well as local community control.
Session 11: Things happen
To live in a sustainable world, radical changes will have to be made. This session will help students to understand that change is normal and that fast change is possible given the right set of conditions. By looking at different case studies students will come to the conclusion that positive changes are possible and a positive mindset is an important tool in bringing about sustainability.
Session 12: Systems thinking
This final session will consider how change will come about and will revisit some of the issues around personal behaviour versus systemic change. Students are helped to understand the dynamic nature of systems, and that the most radical changes take place when systems change. The message of this session is a positive one and students are encouraged to challenge the mantra that the ‘world is in your hands’.
Inspiring Sustainability through Geography includes practical exercises, relevant and engaging case studies, group activities and additional resources on CD-ROM.