7 Resources for 7 Billion: Teaching About Population

According to experts, October 31 marked the day that the human odometer clicked over to 7 billion. There have never been more people on the planet at the same time, and never so many challenges for figuring out how to live in a way that does the most good and least harm for people, the planet, and animals. Population is definitely a topic worth exploring. Here are 7 resources that can help:

  1. Hear the People - A humane education activity created by one of IHE's graduates, this excellent, brief icebreaker uses sound and BBs (the small copper pellets used in BB guns) to help stimulate thinking about the human population issue. (Also check out other activities like Leave Only Footprints & Sustainer to expand discussion.)
  2. World of 7 Billion - Population Connection offers numerous lesson plans for exploring population issues with middle- and high school students.
  3. In his master's thesis, Mathematics for a Broken, Beautiful World, IHE M.Ed. graduate & teacher, Kurt Schmidt, has developed a unit for using math concepts to explore the population issue. ("A Gathering Crowd" begins on page 68 of the pdf file & suggests additional resources, as well.)
  4. National Geographic 7 Billion series - If you need articles, photos, maps, and other graphics to spark discussion (and provide background) about the population issue, National Geographic has created a feature series on population. They also have a great 2-minute video that provides a useful (and speedy) overview of population demographics.
  5. Grist, an online source for "independent green news," has been blogging about the population issue for months and offers a collection of interesting and thought-provoking resources, essays, and other tidbits about a variety of issues connected to our growing population.
  6. World in the Balance video - In 2004 NOVA produced a video exploring challenges and changes in the world's population. Though the data is a bit outdated, there's still much to glean, and the website offers useful articles, activities, and resources, as well as a teacher's guide.
  7. World Population video - This short video (about 7 min) graphically represents world population growth from 1 A.D. to (projected) 2030, using dots on a map of the world. It may be a little boring for some students, (so you can always speed up the slower parts), but especially when you get to the 16th century and beyond, it's eye-opening.
Talking about population can be challenging because of issues surrounding personal choice, family planning, eugenics, immigration, inequities in resource use, neglect in considering the impact of human population on animals, etc., but it's essential that we grapple with the myriad issues and challenges involved, because it's a topic that affects everyone and everything on the planet, including the future of our children.

~ Marsha

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