Relating Eco and Carbon Footprints to the Curricula of Geography, Science,
DT and Citizenship
As has been pointed out many times before the teaching of ESD fits most
comfortably with Geography and Citizenship. Geography has had a substantial
emphasis on development education for many years and ESD clearly prepares
students to become more active citizens. However Science and Design and
Technology are both underrated when it comes to delivery of ESD and eco
and carbon footprints work especially well with elements embedded in
the curriculum and specifications at all Key Stages for each subject.
What is outlined below is how best to use the eco and carbon footprint
calculators base on current (2004) specifications and QCA/DfES schemes
As the QCA ESC website so succinctly states “Geography is a focus
within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the
environment and sustainable development. It can inspire pupils to think
about their own place in the world, their values, and their rights and
responsibilities to other people and the environment.” Eco and
carbon footprint calculators are an excellent way of introducing those
Enquiry skills are encouraged at all Key Stages in Geography. Both types
of footprint calculators give students the chance to set up their own
enquiry, pose questions and discuss potential solutions.
Using footprints also helps to meet NC/5:
Knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development
a) recognise how people can improve the environment [for example by reclaiming
derelict land] or damage it [for example, by polluting a river], and
how decisions about places and environment affect the future quality
of people's lives.
b) recognise how and why people may seek to manage environments sustainably,
and to identify opportunities for their own involvement.
Two units within the QCA/DfES schemes of work would also benefit from
including footprint calculators, namely Unit 14 Can the earth cope? Ecosystems,
population and resources and Unit 23 Local action, global effects.
Specifications vary at GCSE and A Level but footprint calculators would
be useful within People and Environment units at GCSE as the concept
of carrying capacity is well illustrated. Also at GCSE the transport,
waste and homes elements of the eco footprint can be used to illustrate
concepts and ideas in Places and People and Managing Natural Resources
At A Level eco and carbon footprints can be used within the following
People and Climate, Economic Activity and Change, Energy Resources, The
Changing Natural Environment and Population and Economic Development.
Participation and responsible action is encouraged throughout the Key
Stages in Citizenship. Eco and carbon footprint calculators are participatory
in nature and lead students to examine the impact their individual actions
have on the environment.
One example given on the QCA ESD website states:
Developing skills of participation and responsible action
c) reflect on the process of participating
Pupils might canvass and share ideas about how their community could
become more sustainable. The pupils might prepare a display at the local
council buildings, or design a consultation process to involve local
people, including young people, businesses and other groups (e.g. through
meetings in the town hall and interviews).
As part of this, pupils might ask about how different people are usually
consulted, or make their views known to the local authority, and how
this process might be improved. Pupils might then present their ideas
for improving participation, perhaps involving the use of ICT.”
At KS3 one unit in the QCA/DfES scheme of work would benefit from using
the eco and carbon footprints to spark discussion; Unit 10 Debating a
global issue. At KS4 Unit 9 Consumer rights and responsibilities can
use the footprints to illustrate the impact of consumer behaviour on
other people - locally, nationally and globally. Unit 12 Global issues,
local action can use footprints to help students understand how to contribute
to local decisions that will influence quality of life and the environment
in the future.
Key concepts in science, such as diversity and interdependence, are also
key concepts in ESD. Any work at any Key Stage which emphasises these
concepts would benefit from using the eco and carbon footprint calculators.
Clearly also work on energy would benefit from using the carbon calculator
as outlined below.
In the National Curriculum at KS3 and 4 the following parts of the programme
of study can be illustrated by using the calculators:
Living things in their environment
a) about ways in which living things and the environment can be protected,
and the importance of sustainable development
Materials and their properties, Changing materials
i) possible effects of burning fossil fuels on the environment [for example,
production of acid rain, carbon dioxide and solid particles]
a) about the variety of energy resources, including oil, gas, biomass,
food, wind, waves and batteries, and the distinction between renewable
and non-renewable resources
Living things in their environment
b) how the impact of humans on the environment depends on social and
economic factors, including population size, industrial processes and
levels of consumption and waste
c) about the importance of sustainable development
Energy resources and energy transfer
b) about the efficient use of energy, the need for economical use of
energy resources, and the environmental implications of generating energy
Within the QCA/DfES schemes of work two units would benefit from students
using the carbon footprint calculators, namely, Unit 7I Energy resources
Unit 8I Heating and cooling.
Although specifications vary at GCSE and A Level there are many units
which would benefit from the inclusion of work on eco and carbon footprints
especially as the concept of carrying capacity is so well illustrated
by using these tools. At GCSE the units which lend themselves to work
using the footprint calculators are The Environment, Exploring Energy,
Managing Energy and Science and Society. A Level Biology and Chemistry
have more opportunities than Physics to use the footprint calculators,
especially units on Ecology and Chemistry and the Quality of Life.
Design and Technology
Despite common misconceptions ESD is at the heart of teaching and learning
in Design and Technology. As the QCA ESD website states, “At each
key stage, design and technology prepares pupils to participate in tomorrow's
rapidly changing technologies. They learn to think and intervene creatively
to improve quality of life [developing understanding of the principles
of sustainable design and production systems]. At key stage 4 specifically,
pupils consider how technology affects society and their own lives, and
learn that new technologies have both advantages and disadvantages.”
All units within the QCA/DfES schemes of work could actually be prefaced
with a statement such as, “At all times pupils should be asked
to consider the environmental, economic and social implications of the
resources used. They should take these into account before using or considering
the use of particular materials. They should be prepared to justify such
use, including instances where it may be appropriate to use materials
or practices that are not sustainable (e.g. intensively produced food
may be much cheaper and therefore affordable). Pupils should also consider
the impact of the final product, including its potential for recycling
or reuse where appropriate.” (Source http://www.nc.uk.net/esd/teaching/dandt/schemes_of_work.htm)
At GCSE all the statements above apply even though specifications vary.
Also units on Manufacturing Food would benefit from using the eco footprint
to examine food miles.