Sunday, February 17, 2008

Training manuals and education resources on sustainability

Training Manuals

“Thinking Critically about Environmental Impacts throughout History” is a workshop developed for history and social studies teachers who want to incorporate the scientific and social aspects of using renewable resources into classroom teaching. Through the Ecological Footprint framework, educators learn how to help students understand cumulative environmental impacts.

Redefining Progress developed the Ecological Footprint Teacher’s Manual to make this curriculum available for self-paced training. Both complete sections and individual handouts are available for download.

After a series of training sessions in 2005 and 2006, participating teachers submitted their own lesson plans and sample student work. These resources comprise the Lesson Plans and Sample Student Work.

Ecological Footprint Teacher’s Manual

Click on a link to open a PDF that includes the instructions and handouts for the section.

For Educators

Ecological Footprint Handouts

Click on a link to open a single document from the training manual.

Section 1: Overview

Section 2: Handouts and Transparencies

1- Human Needs

2- Sources and Sinks

3- Land Use Types

4-7 Conventional Potato Diagrams

8- Organic Potato Diagram

NEW: Coffee Diagrams

9- EF Definition

10- EF Quiz Excerpts

11- Condensed Quiz Results

12- Land Use Definition

13- Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources

14- Overshoot Definition

15- Sustainability Definition

16- Population Trends

17- Global Distribution of Income

18- Critical Thinking Graphs

19- Factors Affecting the EF

20- Population and Poverty Cycle

21- Food System A

22- Food System B

23- Modern Agriculture Footprints

24- Food Chart

25- Food System History

26- Changing to a Sustainable Food System

27 and 28- Sustainable Food Policies

Section 3: Connecting the Ecological Footprint to History

29- Connecting the EF to History

31-32 Integration Plan

33- Stipend Requirements

34- Identifying EF Connections to Standards

35- Sample EF Activities

36- Sample Research Activities

37- Lesson Plan Overview

California State History/Social Studies Standards and the Ecological Footprint

Elementary School (K-5)

Middle School (6-8)

High School (10-12)

Section 4: Lesson Plans

Food Footprints through Time

Columbian Exchange

Let Them Eat Cake (

When the Chips Are Down: GUIDELINES

When the Chips Are Down (

Section 5: Reading and Resources

Seeds of Change Article

Boston Globe Article

"Hamburger, French Fries, and a Cola"

Food Timeline

List of Resources


Frequent Debates

Eating Up the Earth

Energy Footprints

What about Population?

Evaluation Forms




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Lesson Plans and Sample Student Work

Learn more about integrating the Ecological Footprint into your classroom from K-12 Educators who have attended the “Thinking Critically about Environmental Impacts throughout History” workshop.

Teachers submitted online evaluation forms after using the Footprint in the curriculum. They offered their integration strategies, what standards they addressed, barriers to integration, student reactions, and success stories.

Click a link to download a PDF file with sample lesson plan or student work.

Sample Lesson Plans

1st Grade

7th and 8th Grade History


Natomas High School teacher Serenity Vontroba restructured her geography unit to focus on the Ecological Footprint and the Impact of Human Societies. She has provided a detailed outline of the unit, sample student work, and her observations on student learning and interest.

  • UNIT OUTLINE- Objectives, Lessons, and Observations
  • Objective 1- Human Progression from Hunter/Gatherer to Industrialized Societies
  • Objective 2- Calculating Personal Ecological Footprints
  • Objective 3- Determining Footprints of Products
  • Objective 4- Population and Consumption Trends
  • Objective 5- Global Inequity
  • Objective 6- Impacts of Globalization

10th Grade History

11th Grade History


AP Environmental Science

Mary Kahl-Redman, Natomas High School, integrated the footprint throughout 8 units in her class. Click here to see the units she taught and the materials she used.

9-12 Environmental Science

Tish Tablan, Excelsior Education Center, created a unit and her own lesson plans to conclude her environmental science class, summing up all their work in an action plan.

Sample Student Work

When the Chips Are Down Posters

Students in an AP Environmental Science class at Piedmont High School learned about the social implications of national Ecological Footprints in Facing the Future's activity, “When the Chips Are Down.”

Ecological Footprint of Transportation- Poster/Research Project

This student from Meg Gorman's Economics class at San Francisco Waldorf School researched the Ecological Footprint of transportation throughout history.

Lesson Plans

Redefining Progress, in partnership with Earth Day Network, has developed single-day environmental education lesson plans for K-12 educators. The lesson plans are designed to integrate easily into science, social studies, math, and/or economics curricula.

Food and You

Designed to incorporate environmental education into general math and science classes for elementary school students (K-5th grade), this lesson encourages students to think about where their food comes from, the food production process, and the byproducts associated with their favorite foods.

Download Lesson Plan

The Trash We Pass

This lesson brings environmental education to middle school (4–7th grade) social studies, math, and science classes by asking students to have fun analyzing garbage and recycling options.

Download Lesson Plan

For Educators

Have and Have-Not

This lesson incorporates environmental education in middle school (7–9th grade) social studies, geography, math, and economics classes by helping students gain a perspective on different consumption habits in developing and developed countries, and the effect that mass consumption has on the ecological footprint of a country and an individual.

Download Lesson Plan

Sustainable Dining

Designed for lower high school (7–10th grade) economics, home economics, and general education classes, this lesson teaches students about sustainably produced groceries as a valuable and environmentally friendly option for grocery shopping.

Download Lesson Plan

Renewable Energy

In this lesson targeting high school history, science, and math classes, students will analyze the use of energy in their every day lives, and consider the advantages and disadvantages of environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.

Download Lesson Plan

Kid’s Footprint

For more lesson plans, please visit, our adaptation of the Ecological Footprint Quiz for elementary and middle-school students.

Footprint Education

The Ecological Footprint is a powerful tool for introducing the concept of sustainability to students. Redefining Progress has applied the Footprint to a number of resources for educators to help students understand environmental impacts of their lifestyles.

Kid’s Footprint

The Bobbie Bigfoot Quiz is a fun, interactive way to introduce the Ecological Footprint to young people. The site includes lesson plans for science and social studies classes at the elementary and middle-school level.

Lesson Plans

Five simple sustainability lesson plans can be easily integrated into K-12 classrooms.

Training Manual

Access the training manual for “Thinking Critically about Environmental Impacts throughout History,” a workshop for social studies and history teachers.

Ecological Footprint

Online Course

Assessing Energy's Footprint and Carbon Emissions” is a free, university-level web course designed to teach college students and resource management professionals how to calculate the ecological footprint of energy use and the carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

Resources for Sustainability Education

There is a wealth of resources available for educators who want to introduce the concept of sustainability in the classroom. Redefining Progress compiled a list of resources for K-12 sustainability education in conjunction with a survey conducted in 2003. This compilation was made possible by the Packard Foundation.

Bay Area Science Alliance

Single activities and module lessons for all levels on a variety of science topics.

Center for Economic Conversion
Sustainable economics and Genuine Progress Indicator module lessons for grades 9-12.

Centre for Science and Environment in India
Module lessons for all levels on a variety of sustainability topics.

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
Lessons on consumption patterns, sustainable food systems, and sustainable economics for grades 6-12.

Creative Change Educational Solutions (CCES)
Module lessons on sustainable development and ecological economics for grades 7-12.

For Educators


The World Bank's Development Education Program provides module lessons, quizzes, and games on sustainable development for grades 9-12.

Earth Education Partnership Program
Module lessons on sustainable development, population growth, and resource consumption for grades 9-12.

A free kit to teach for Canadian teachers about the Ecological Footprint concept.

Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit

Activities and a sustainability toolkit for all levels.

The Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plans
The U.S. Department of Education’s extensive list of resources for grades K-12.

Environmental Education Center
The Environmental Protection Agency's resource center for lesson plans, award programs, grants, and more.

Environmental Education (EE) Link
Single activities and module lessons for all levels on a wide range of environmental topics.

Facing the Future: People and the Planet
Module lessons on population growth, poverty, resource consumption, and sustainable economics for grades 5-12.

Global Footprints
Sustainability games, quizzes, and classroom activities on global citizenship and the Ecological Footprint for grades K-5.

Global Learning Inc.
Module lessons on sustainability and interrelated concepts of the environment for grades 6-12.

GLOBE Program
Module lessons for grades K-8 on atmosphere, hydrology, soil, land cover/biology, GPS, and seasons.

Green School Guidelines
Antioch New England Institute's resources for incorporating environmental literacy into school-wide educational programs.

Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley
Single activities and module lessons for all levels in science, math, and environmental subjects.

Ollie’s World
Lessons and online games on sustainability principles for grades K-8.

Population Education
A program by Population Connections offering module lessons for grades K-12 on population growth and resource consumption.

Project Learning Tree
Sample module lessons for Pre-K-12 on energy and society, forest ecology and issues, municipal solid waste, risk, and biodiversity.

Project WET (Water Education for Teachers)
Activities and module lessons on sustainability and water for grades K-12.

Project WILD
Wildlife management, biodiversity, and sustainable economics activities and lessons for grades K-12.

Second Nature: Education for Sustainability
Offers workshops and support services to colleges and universities in their efforts to integrate sustainability as a core component of all education and practice.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future:
A Multimedia Teacher Programme
UNESCO provides a broad range of lesson plans on interdisciplinary issues related to sustainability and sustainable development for grades 6-12.

Vermont Community Works
Free lessons on service learning and community-based education for grades K-12.

Vermont Population Alliance
Lessons for grades 4-12 on population, geography, and resource consumption.

Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
An educator's network, conference information, and programs for Wisconsin teachers.

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