30-45 minutes, homework assignment
Secondary, but adaptable for other levels
This lesson serves as a review of important environmental laws and their impact not only on society as a whole, but in the everyday lives of students. This jigsaw is presented as a classroom discussion, but it could be modified into a written exercise for homework.
This teaches students to:
- Analyze the historical significance of environmental legislation;
- Consider how historical environmental legislation might impact present circumstances;
- Appreciate the significance of environmental history in their own lives;
- Appreciate and articulate the importance of the rule of law for protecting the environment.
- Access to the internet, or materials for research
- List of legislation to be studied and discussion questions, printed on handout or displayed in the classroom
Note: This activity assumes students have a basic understanding of the concept of environmental law, and the existence of relevant federal policy and international standards.
Split students into six small groups, and assign each group a significant environmental policy to research:
Federal policy in the United States
- Clean Air Act (1963)
- National Environmental Protection Act (1969)
- Endangered Species Act (1973)
- Safe Drinking Water Act (1974)
Each group should research and report on the following:
- What is the policy and what was its purpose or goal?
- What are the most important things that people should know about the policy?
- When was the policy enacted? How might it affect your community today?
Involve a Legal Professional
- Ask a local attorney or judge to talk with your students about their experiences with environmental law. For assistance, contact your local or state bar association for a possible referral.
- Invite a local police officer or city official to talk with your students about the environmental-related regulations in your community.
- Contact your local EPA office or sustainability organization to see if an official might be able to talk with your students about environmental issues in your community.