Teaching Activities (Free)

The Climate Crisis Trial: A Role Play on the Roots of Global Warming

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
Who — or what — is to blame for the terrible effects of the climate crisis? This trial role play helps students understand the complicated factors involved.

Time Periods: 20th Century, 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice

Climate Crisis activity photograph from Rethinking Schools

Our response to the climate crisis depends on who or what we think is causing it. This trial role play helps students understand how complicated it is to assess “guilt.” It’s an engaging activity in which students defend entities charged with causing the climate crisis, as they point the finger at others. Ultimately, it asks them to consider how different factors are linked together, and, depending on their assessment of blame, to propose what justice looks like. The climate crisis is no laughing matter, but this activity provides a lively and playful way to explore the issues. Continue reading and download lesson.

Materials needed:
1. Construction paper for making name placards, one for each of the six groups.
2. Colored markers.
3. Copies of the indictments. Members of each group get copies of their own indictment—for example, all those in the U.S. Government group receive the U.S. Government indictment. Sometimes students like to see the indictments of other groups, and this can lead to a more fully argued trial, so you may want extra copies of indictments for all the groups.


Lesson originally published by Rethinking Schools | Zinn Education ProjectThis lesson was originally published by Rethinking Schools in A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.


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