>

Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.
Login

Resource facts

  • Less than 5 students
    11 to 30 students
    More than 30 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
    4-7 lecture units
    up to 1 semester
    more than 1 semester
  • Internet connection necessary
  • English

Resource Description

Environmental Calculators- Ecological Footprint(Resource ID: 54)

Ecological footprint measures the demand that human activities place on the earths ecosystems. It is measured in terms of the ‘area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated’ (WWF, 2014). Ecological footprint calculators offer a relatively simple way to determine the quantity of materials consumed and wastes produced by a given entity. There are many easily available calculators and these can offer a detailed analysis or just give some general feedback that can still hold value as an initial step to integrate sustainable practices. These calculators offer a great way to highlight how unsustainable the majority of our lifestyles are. They can be used as part of a lecture or can be used to cover a larger portion of a module.

The ecological footprint calculator is a well-known and readily available tool that can be easily integrated into a lesson related to sustainability. This method involves students completing their own personal eco-footprint and also allows for collaborative group work in order to develop strategies to overcome unsustainable practices.

Ecological footprint can be used as a discussion, assignment or both. This method can look at energy use and efficiency, conservation and climate change, thereby allowing a considerable scope for integrating sustainability into the classroom. This method can firstly look at the concept of what an ecological footprint is and why it is so relevant in today’s society. If time permits this could present an opportunity to compare countries that have better eco-ratings to those that are less sustainable.

 

Suggested Method:

  • Each individual student should complete an online Ecological Footprint calculator http://www.myfootprint.org/ . If the online option is not available an alternative paper calculator can be used (CTEnergyEducation.com )
  • In groups of 3-4 compare results and compile the main findings as one general report
  • As an entire group identify what actions can be taken in order to decrease the ecological footprint. This can be completed as part of a classroom exercise or can be extended and used as a coursework assignment.

National Geographic offers a comprehensive footprint atlas that could set the scene for a very interactive lesson on the human footprint from a global perspective. This could be used as engaging stimulus or offer a more comprehensive overview of global challenges

Type of teaching method
  • Brain storming
  • Discussion / debate
  • Simulation
  • Reflection
  • Creative method
Preparation
Low
Preparation Efforts Description
- Online ecological footprint calculator or paper calculator - Access to the National Geographic Footprint Atlas
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Necessary documents / materials

NA

Integration of stakeholders
This method provides ample opportunity to invite stakeholders from a wide variety of areas. These can include:
- Environmental consultants
- Ecologists
- Individuals involved in recycling
- Representatives of ‘green parties’
- Environmental Journalist
Situations appropriate for this method
As ecological calculators are freely available online these can be used as a promotional tool in sustainability. For examples a lesson can be created to make them user- friendly in second level education. This method can be used to highlight how small sustainable changes can have a large impact on ecological footprints and it can also highlight that many changes can be made by everyone in society.
Strengths of the method
Strengths:
- It better educates students about sustainable systems
- It allows for inquiry based active group work
- It promotes responsibility
- It highlights bad practice in everyday living

Students will be able to:
-Become proficient with an ecological footprint calculator
-Use scientific reasoning to identify and understand problems related to sustainability environmental
-Evaluate potential solutions
-Apply their understanding of sustainability issues to their everyday living
Weaknesses of the method
Weaknesses:
- Results may not be always accurate due to the quality of data submitted
- It is only one indication of unsustainability
- Calculators focus on resource consumption rather than on pollution
Assessment / evaluation
None
Funded by
This teaching resource, realised within the project ConSus, has been funded with the support of the TEMPUS of the European Union. The contents reflect the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Comments Write Comment

Contact

Audrey O’Grady
samantha.prior(at)ul.ie
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
UL - University of Limerick
Institution:
University of Limerick
Date:

License

Creative Commons
BY-NC-ND

Type of teaching method

  • Brain storming
  • Discussion / debate
  • Simulation
  • Reflection