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  • Civic Education for Sustainability

  • UNIT 3: ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY-- Topic 1: Biodiversity and Conservation


    The aim of this unit is to consider the importance of biodiversity and to discuss the role of humans in protecting the non-human world.

    The main focus shall be on considering what is meant by biodiversity and the impact that this has had and may have on the planet. The role of humans as ‘responsible stewards’ will be considered from ecological, humanistic and spiritual contexts.

    This unit aims to problematize what the role of humans might be, indeed, if they should have one at all, in ‘protecting’ the planet. There is also a consideration of where the values and attitudes towards biodiversity and its conservation emerge from and how these can be engaged with to encourage sustainable behaviours.


    1. Understanding the relationships between humans and environment from a spiritual, cultural and social perspective

    2. Understanding global and local challenges of the environment and their inter-relationship

    3. Understanding basic concepts of ecology and environmental issues

    4. Enhancing the awareness and the implications of human activity on the environment


    It is expected that students will gain an appreciation of the current paucity and continual decline of biodiversity and the immediate impact that has. Students will be able to come to an understanding of what may motivate humans to respond to the planet and biodiversity in the way they do. Potential reasons for behaviours such as ‘stewardship’ or ‘capitalist exploitation’ may provide insight into human/non-human interactions.


    1.       To acquire and  apply knowledge relating to sustainability in the community

    2.       To enable students to integrate traditional and innovative knowledge in developing attitudes towards sustainability from different perspectives (political, social, ecological, cultural, economic, legal, etc.).

    3.    To acquire a sensitivity towards different opinions regarding sustainability issues.

    4.    Applying the interactive relationships between local and global sustainability issues.


    Activity #1:Small group discussion (face to face/blog/on-line discussion) after ‘provocative question’ provided by teacher. (for example ‘Rats are pests – why don’t we exterminate them?)

    Read Living Planet p6-9. Watch the two videos.

    Removing elephants 

     Answer: ‘Why is biodiversity important?

    Activity #2: Think about and plan a short presentation on the implications of human interference on biodiversity. Use one of the following scenarios ..‘Which species to remove and which species to keep and which species to eat.’

    Your presentation should last 10 minutes (no less than 8 slides) and include examples of what you could do to  maintain biodiversity.


    Jordan, K. & Kristjánsson, K. (2016): Sustainability, virtue ethics, and the virtue of harmony with nature, Environmental Education Research, DOI:10.1080/13504622.2016.1157681


    Lovelock, J. (1979). Gaia. Oxford: Oxford University Press

    Porritt, J. (2013). The World We Made: Alex McKay’s story from 2050. London: Phaidon Press. (Biodiversity and the Natural World sections)

    Vane-Wright, R.I. (2009). Planetary awareness, worldviews and the conservation of biodiversity. In Kellert, S.R. & Speth, J.G. (eds), The Coming Transformation. Values to sustain human and natural communities, pp. 353–382. New Haven: Yale School of Forestry& Environmental Studies.

     WWF (2016) Living Planet Report 2016. The summary

    Available from:




    1.     אתר קמפוס טבע, האוניברסיטה העברית:


    Supporting Literature:

    Armstrong, J.C. (2005). En’owkin: decision-making as if sustainability mattered. In Stone, M.K. and Barlow, Z., (eds)., Ecological Literacy: Education Our Children for a Sustainable World. San Francisco: Sierra Book Club: 11-17

    Bainbridge, A. (2016) Building a world unfit to live in: the deception, distraction and disavowal of the fetish. Pedagogia Oggi, 1/2016, 62-72.

    Dietz, T., E. Ostrom, and P. C. Stern. (2003). The struggle to govern the commons. Science 302:1907-1912

    Wilson, E.O. (1984). Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

    UNIT 2: POLLUTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION-- Topic 3: Soil Pollution and DegradationUNIT 3: ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY-- Topic 2: Ecological Footprint