Through role play, “Stories from the Climate Crisis” introduces students to 19 individuals around the world—each of whom is affected differently by climate change. For some, climate change threatens to force them to leave their land. For others, it is a business opportunity. In this activity, students meet one another in character and learn about the impact of climate change in their lives—and how each is responding.
Larry Gibson, Mountaintop removal activist, Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
Roman Abramovich, Sibneft Oil Co., Russia
Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement, Kenya
Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister, Tuvalu
Matthew Gilbert, Member of Gwich’in Tribe, Northern Alaska / Northwestern Canada
Chris Loken, Apple grower, Hudson Valley, New York
Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner
Yolanda del Carmen Marín, Coffee plantation worker, Sonsonate, El Salvador
Rafael Hernandez, Immigrant rights activist, The Desert Angels, U.S.-Mexico border
This lesson was originally published in the Rethinking Schools publication, A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis.
A People’s Curriculum for the Earth offers dozens more lessons for teaching about climate change. Find additional resources for the classroom on the environment below.
How does climate change affect individuals from around the world differently? Highly effective and engaging role playing/scavenger hunt style activity from @ZinnEdProject and @RethinkSchools. pic.twitter.com/tRv2aXoNF5
— Brett Benson (@MrBensonSHS) May 13, 2019
More Classroom Stories
I led an entire unit on environmental justice with my elementary class. We discussed a variety of topics related to environmental justice including food deserts, redlining, climate change, pollution, air and water quality, and public transportation.
When discussing climate justice, we did a mini climate conference based on the Zinn Education Project’s The (Young) People’s Climate Conference lesson.
I separated students into three groups to have three mini-conferences. They presented to their classmates one at a time read directly from the character cards provided by the lesson. I created my own “scavenger hunt” sheet so that each student could take notes on other presentations.
As a teacher educator, I use the Climate Change mixer and the Young People’s Conference on Climate Change in order to support my students’ understanding of how colonialism, globalization, and climate change intersect today. The activities help my students, who are pre-service teachers, to connect science to social studies in meaningful ways and to teach in interdisciplinary and critical ways.
We often build on the two lessons by developing a TourBuilder narrative to emphasize narrative and geography, and have also included PBS’s interactive “The Last Generation.” This site provides a face to people like those under discussion in the Climate Change Mixer and also steps us into discussions of climate change displacement and immigration as well as other economic/political consequences that may seem unrelated.
Having access to these resources has been beneficial in a lot of ways and has greatly enhanced our teaching and learning in relation to climate change.
This past winter, I taught a first iteration of a multidisciplinary climate change course, “Climate Change: From Knowledge to Action.” As part of a unit on climate impacts and climate justice, students and I engaged in the Climate Change Mixer activity.
I assigned roles to students the day before the activity and students then took time to do further research on their character and that character’s home place (and how it was being affected by climate change).
During the activity, students got really into their roles and engaged in meaningful conversations with each other. The experience even inspired some students to pursue climate-justice-related topics in their projects later in the term.
I used the Zinn Education Project’s Climate Change Mixer in a problem-solving project with my 8th grade science students, where I had students work in teams to create an essential question around one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Then, they had to propose a solution to address their question. They needed to be able to identify various stakeholders and whose interest was being served by their solution.
Once students had their questions, my school’s librarian and I collaborated to have the students engage in the Climate Change Mixer. The different experiences and perspectives of the individuals represented in the mixer activity really resonated with the students. They were highly engaged during the activity, and were able to identify new insights that they gained from their conversations while in the roles.
When they returned to the sustainability questions, the mixer activity helped students identify who is, and who is not, being considered and impacted in their projects’ solutions.