Resources for Teaching & Learning about Sustainable Communities

Books for Teachers

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth (edited by Bill Bigelow & Tim Swinehart)A collection of articles, role plays, simulations, stories, poems, and graphics to help breathe life into teaching about the environmental crisis. The book features some of the best articles from Rethinking Schools magazine alongside classroom-friendly readings on climate change, energy, water, food, and pollution–as well as on people who are working to make things better.

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth (edited by Bill Bigelow & Tim Swinehart)

A collection of articles, role plays, simulations, stories, poems, and graphics to help breathe life into teaching about the environmental crisis. The book features some of the best articles from Rethinking Schools magazine alongside classroom-friendly readings on climate change, energy, water, food, and pollution–as well as on people who are working to make things better.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (edited by Paul Hawken)An international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists came together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (edited by Paul Hawken)

An international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists came together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (Robin Wall Kimmerer)Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future (Mary Robinson)Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson's mission to bring together the fight against climate change and the global struggle for human rights has taken her all over the world. It also brought her to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women.

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future (Mary Robinson)

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson's mission to bring together the fight against climate change and the global struggle for human rights has taken her all over the world. It also brought her to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women.

As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock, (Dina Gilio-Whitaker)Through the lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” researcher and activist Gilio-Whitaker explores the history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. This book shares the history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy.

As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock, (Dina Gilio-Whitaker)

Through the lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” researcher and activist Gilio-Whitaker explores the history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. This book shares the history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy.

Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality, Third Edition (Robert D. Bullard)This book provides the major economic, social, and psychological impacts associated with the siting of noxious facilities and their significance in mobilizing the African American community. It explores the barriers to environmental and social justice experienced by African Americans.

Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality, Third Edition (Robert D. Bullard)

This book provides the major economic, social, and psychological impacts associated with the siting of noxious facilities and their significance in mobilizing the African American community. It explores the barriers to environmental and social justice experienced by African Americans.

EcoLiterate: How Educators are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence (Daniel Goleman)Hopeful, eloquent, and bold, Ecoliterate offers inspiring stories, practical guidance, and an exciting new model of education that builds - in vitally important ways - on the success of social and emotional learning by addressing today's most important ecological issues.This book shares stories of pioneering educators, students, and activists engaged in issues related to food, water, oil, and coal in communities from the mountains of Appalachia to a small village in the Arctic; the deserts of New Mexico to the coast of New Orleans; and the streets of Oakland, California to the hills of South Carolina.

EcoLiterate: How Educators are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence (Daniel Goleman)

Hopeful, eloquent, and bold, Ecoliterate offers inspiring stories, practical guidance, and an exciting new model of education that builds - in vitally important ways - on the success of social and emotional learning by addressing today's most important ecological issues.

This book shares stories of pioneering educators, students, and activists engaged in issues related to food, water, oil, and coal in communities from the mountains of Appalachia to a small village in the Arctic; the deserts of New Mexico to the coast of New Orleans; and the streets of Oakland, California to the hills of South Carolina.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (David Wallace-Wells)This book is both a travelogue of the near future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it—the ways that warming promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress. The Uninhabitable Earth is also an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation—today’s.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (David Wallace-Wells)

This book is both a travelogue of the near future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it—the ways that warming promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress. The Uninhabitable Earth is also an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation—today’s.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac)Figueres and Rivett-Carnac—who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015—have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a regenerative world that has net-zero emissions. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac)

Figueres and Rivett-Carnac—who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015—have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a regenerative world that has net-zero emissions. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate  (Naomi Klein)Climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She demonstrates why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (Naomi Klein)

Climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She demonstrates why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

Videos

  • A Brief History of Environmental Justice (ProPublica, 2017, 3:35): Landfills, chemical waste facilities and power plants are more often built in poor and minority communities, which don't have the power or money to advocate for themselves.

  • Becoming an ECO J.E.D.I.: Exploring ways to bridge the gap between environmental education and environmental justice (presentation by Parker McMullen Bushman, 2019, 1:23:38): Ecosystem health and the health of communities and individuals are inextricably linked. It is often low-income and minority populations that carry the impacts of the weightiest environmental problems. Environmental education can provide an opportunity to connect people to nature and can help empower these communities to actively address environmental issues.

  • 24 Hours of Reality: "Earthrise" by Amanda Gorman: Youth Poet Laureate of the United States Amanda Gordon provides an inspiring presentation shared by the Climate Reality Project. "It is a hope that implores us at an uncompromising core to keep rising up for an Earth more than worth fighting for."

  • Environmental Justice: (EcoSense for Living, 2018, 26:48): EcoSense explores the intersection of environmentalism and the social justice movement with representatives from the Partnership for Southern Equity and the NAACP. In Atlanta, meet members of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a group that works hard to build and maintain a clean and healthy environment within its community.

  • Environmental Justice, Explained (Grist, 2016, 3:33): We already know that pollution and climate change negatively affect people’s health and quality of life. But we’re not always clear about which people are most exposed and impacted.

  • Hip-Hop Environmental Activism: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (TEDxYouth@MileHigh, 2014, 13:36): What is the power of combining hip-hop and environmental activism? In this energetic performance, hip hop artist and 13-year-old indigenous rights activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez performs original works with powerful messages.

  • Isha Clarke - A New Era of the Climate Justice Movement (Bioneers, 2019, 7:22): Sixteen-year-old Isha Clarke is a senior at Oakland High School and activist for Youth vs. Apocalypse. This is her presentation made at the annual Bioneers conference in October 2019.

  • Van Jones: Towards a Green Alliance: Birthing a New Politics (Bioneers, 2015/2007, 33:23): Van Jones urges us to carry our spiritual, cultural and economic movements into the electoral arena to transform politics and forge a green "New Deal" coalition so that kids who are now prison fodder will help create a zero-pollution economy, harvest the sun and heal the land instead.

  • Winona LaDuke: Seeds of Our Ancestors, Seeds of Life (TedxTC, 2012, 16:36): As Program Director of Honor the Earth, LaDuke works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. In her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, where she works to protect Indigen

Websites

  • CalEnviroScreen: CalEnviroScreen is a mapping tool that helps identify California communities that are most affected by many sources of pollution, and where people are often especially vulnerable to pollution’s effects. CalEnviroScreen uses environmental, health, and socioeconomic information to produce scores for every census tract in the state.

  • California Hub for Environmental Literacy and Action (CHELA): Created by the California Geographic Alliance, this site is a tool to help young people in California understand, assess, and take action on issues related to the protection of the natural environment, the impacts and sustainability of human activities, and matters of environmental justice. Educators and students from any part of the state or in any kind of instructional setting are welcome to use CHELA.

  • Center for Regional Change (UC Davis): The CRC is a catalyst for innovative, collaborative, and action-oriented research. It brings together faculty and students from different disciplines and builds bridges between university, policy, advocacy, business, philanthropy, and other sectors. The CRC's goal is to support the building of healthy, equitable, prosperous, and sustainable regions in California and beyond.

  • Climate Justice: Climate justice “insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart,” said Mary Robinson in an interview. Read more at the UN SDG website here.

  • Earth Guardians: We inspire and train diverse youth to be effective leaders in the environmental, climate and social justice movements. Through the power of art, music, storytelling, civic engagement, and legal action, we’re creating impactful solutions to some of the most critical issues we face as a global community.

  • Environmental Health Coalition: Environmental Health Coalition is dedicated to achieving environmental and social justice. We believe that justice is accomplished by empowered communities acting together to make social change. We organize and advocate to protect public health and the environment threatened by toxic pollution. EHC supports broad efforts that create a just society and fosters a healthy and sustainable quality of life.

  • Groundwork USA: The mission of the Groundwork USA network is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being.

  • Literacy for Environmental Justice: LEJ promotes ecological health, environmental stewardship, and community development in Southeast San Francisco by creating urban greening, eco-literacy, community stewardship and workforce development opportunities that directly engage and support local residents in securing a healthier future.

  • Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice: The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world.

  • Peoples Climate Movement: The Peoples Climate Movement uses two key strategies to demand bold action on climate change: mass mobilization and movement alignment. By mobilizing massive numbers of people on the ground; finding alignment with partners under the banner of climate, jobs, and justice; and lifting up our core priorities of economic and racial justice, we build the power required to win real and lasting climate policy on the federal, state, and local level.

  • Sunrise Movement: Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.

  • This Changes Everything: Based on Naomi Klein’s book, this site provides information about the book, documentary, Leap Manifesto, Leap, and Beautiful Solutions.

  • 350: We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

Articles

Podcasts

  • Dr. Robert Bullard: The Father of Environmental Justice (Climate One, 1/2/20)

    Often described as the father of environmental justice, Dr. Robert Bullard has written several seminal books on the subject and is known for his work highlighting pollution on minority communities and speaking up against environmental racism in the 1970-1980s.

  • Earth Talk: Poetry & Planet

    Poetry is of the world and of the spirit. Poetry & Planet appears bi-monthly (six times a year) on EarthTalk.org and features the best contemporary poetry about this marvelous ecosphere we are all part of and the threats it faces. The podcast is produced by Ethan Goffman.

  • Fired Up on Climate Change in California Schools (EdSource, 9/27/19)

    Featuring Ten Strands CEO Karen Cowe and Oakland high school student and activist Isha Clarke.

  • Future Imperfect (CGEP)

    This podcast is dedicated to exploring how climate change will affect individuals and communities across California. You’ll learn about the predictions in California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment and how those predicted changes could play out in your day-to-day future and what you can do to work toward a good climate future, rather than a catastrophe. All the episodes are tied together by three important concepts: climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change, and climate justice.

  • Living Downstream (NPR)

    Living Downstream explores environmental justice in communities from California to Indonesia and is hosted by NCPM News Director Steve Mencher. The podcast features some of the most experienced environmental reporters in the public radio system, as well as a handful of talented newcomers.

  • The Environmental Justice Landscape (In this Climate, 4/3/20)

    In this bonus episode, IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs professor David Konisky helps us understand the modern environmental justice movement in the context of its history.

  • Think 100%: The Coolest Show on Climate Change (Hip Hop Caucus)

    There are over 50 episodes about justice, solutions, and realness. "It isn’t depressing. It is about the beauty of our world and the grit of fighting for our existence." "Featuring stories from communities facing deadly impacts from pollution and climate change, and conversations with celebrities, artists, activists, youth leaders, Congressional Members, issue experts, and more, the show will break down barriers between issues within the movement for justice and a sustainable planet for all.”

Curriculum

  • Analyzing Environmental Justice (Learning for Justice): This lesson helps students understand how pollution disproportionately affects people who are poor and members of racial and ethnic minorities as well as use a map to locate environmental injustice.

  • Climate Champions Curriculum: Explore phenomena, understand the science, engage with solutions, and integrate Indigenous knowledge with units created by Climate Champions Teacher Leaders. These units for secondary science align with NGSS, center student learning, use 5E pedagogy (Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate, Elaborate), include strategies for English learners, integrate standards and practices for math and language arts, and can be adapted for other disciplines.

  • Earth Guardians Lesson Plans: Our Lesson Plans, complemented by artist Shepard Fairey's painting of Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, were created through a partnership with Amplifier. Amplifier is a design lab dedicated to amplifying the voices of social change movements through art and community engagement, bringing We the Future into classrooms across the United States.

  • Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) K-12 Curriculum: The K-12 EEI Curriculum uses the environment as a context to help students learn science and history-social science. It is a model to demonstrate how to integrate environmental literacy into instruction. Teachers may access all of the EEI Curriculum online for free, and until the end of this school year students may access form-fillable workbooks and other materials.

  • Eight Ways to Teach Climate Change in Almost Any Classroom (NPR): This reporter shares what was heard from teachers and education organizations who are introducing the topic of climate change in subjects from social studies to math to English language arts, and at every grade level, from preschool on up.

  • Learners to Leaders: Environmental Justice Literacy Curriculum (Groundwork USA)

  • Learning to Give: Links to resources, materials, and lesson plans across subject areas and K–12 grade bands

  • Roots of Success Environmental Literacy & Work Readiness Curriculum

    Social Justice Books -- A Teaching for Change Project: Environment/Climate Justice

  • Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference (Richard Beach, Jeff Share & Allen Webb; NCTE & Zinn Education Project)

  • U.S. Green Building Council Environmental Justice Curriculum

  • Introduction to Scientific Sketching (California Academy of Sciences): In this lesson, students learn how to sketch like scientists. You can teach it even if you think you can't draw!

  • Project Wild: Project WILD's mission is to provide wildlife-based conservation and environmental education that fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources. All curriculum materials are backed by sound educational practices and theory, and represent the work of many professionals within the fields of education and natural resource management from across the country.

Children’s Books

CGEP has created a list featuring globally themed children’s books aligned to the Environmental Principles and Concepts. Look for the titles that have learning activities in our Global Book Bags resources or lesson plans in our K-12 Global Education Resources at CGEPresources.org.

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay (Susan Hood)

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay (Susan Hood)

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth (Mary McKenna Siddels)

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth (Mary McKenna Siddels)

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle (Claire A. Nivola)

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle (Claire A. Nivola)

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World (Laurie Lawlor)

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World (Laurie Lawlor)

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa (Jeannette Winter)

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa (Jeannette Winter)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (William Kamkwamba)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (William Kamkwamba)

The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon: A Story about Friendship and Loving Our Earth (Land Wilson)

The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon: A Story about Friendship and Loving Our Earth (Land Wilson)

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya (Donna Jo Napoli)

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya (Donna Jo Napoli)

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps (Jeanettte Winter)

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps (Jeanettte Winter)

We Are Water Protectors (Carole Lindstrom)

We Are Water Protectors (Carole Lindstrom)

Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies (Deborah Hopkinson)

Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies (Deborah Hopkinson)

Greta and the Giants: Inspired by Greta Thunberg's Stand to Save the World (Zoe Tucker)

Greta and the Giants: Inspired by Greta Thunberg's Stand to Save the World (Zoe Tucker)

Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet (Jeanette Winter)

Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet (Jeanette Winter)

The Water Princess (Susan Verde)

The Water Princess (Susan Verde)

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock (Aslan Tudor)

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock (Aslan Tudor)

Young Adult Literature

Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet (edited by Julia Dunlap & Susan Cohen)

Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet (edited by Julia Dunlap & Susan Cohen)

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines (Paul Fleischman)

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines (Paul Fleischman)

How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other (Naomi Klein)

How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other (Naomi Klein)

Kids Who Are Changing the World: A Book From the GoodPlanet Foundation (Ann Jankeliowitch)

Kids Who Are Changing the World: A Book From the GoodPlanet Foundation (Ann Jankeliowitch)

Silent Spring (Rachel Carson)

Silent Spring (Rachel Carson)

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis (edited by Lucy Diavolo)

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis (edited by Lucy Diavolo)

We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet (Xiuhtezcatl Martinez)

We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet (Xiuhtezcatl Martinez)

One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet (Anuradha Rao)

One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet (Anuradha Rao)

World Without Fish (by Mark Kurlansky)

World Without Fish (by Mark Kurlansky)