Product Profile

People and the Planet: Lessons for a Sustainable Future


In our increasingly interdependent world, People and the Planet is a must for the middle school classroom. This interdisciplinary curriculum helps students understand the connections between human population growth, the environment, and our global family while inspiring them to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

As environmental education and global studies guide in one, People and the Planet covers concepts central to science, social studies, and math, while reinforcing skills in English Language Arts. Through 41 innovative activities, 18 readings, and 31 infographics, students explore contemporary issues like climate change, water scarcity, global wealth inequality, solid waste management, and more. Hands-on strategies keep students engaged, while emphasis on analysis and real-world problem solving make the activities an ideal match for addressing Common Core and NGSS standards, as well as the C3 Framework and National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.

People and the Planet is an on-line curriculum with an easy-to-use interface. The content is organized into seven comprehensive units made up of lesson plans, student readings, a summative assessment, infographics, a glossary, and sources for further research. After purchasing, simply set-up a user account to access the materials anytime you’re online!

Note: Each individual unit can be downloaded separately for $3 per unit. Units include: History of Population GrowthPopulation ConceptsLand ResourcesWater ResourcesAir Pollution & Solid WasteOur Global FamilySustainable Future


Lesson Plans

Almighty Aquifers (pdf): Students participate in a game that mimics the relationship between population growth and aquifer depletion.

For the Common Good (pdf): In two simulation games, students determine individual short-term consumption strategies that will maximize resources for the entire group.

People on the Move (pdf): Students participate in a “push/pull” simulation to identify reasons people migrate from one place to another and analyze the similarities and differences between two real-world migrations.

Population Future (pdf): Students interpret a graph showing global population projections through 2100, then create gridded bar graphs to represent the relative size of different regions’ populations for different years (past and future).

Secret Life of Stuff (pdf): Students compare the life cycle stages of four everyday products in order to hypothesize which item has the lowest environmental footprint. Students then pick one product and brainstorm improvements that could be made along the product’s life to minimize its eco-impact.

Preview Readings

The History of Us (pdf)

The Human Footprint: Land (pdf)