How did environmentalism shape the 20th century?

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Contributor: Teachit Author
How did environmentalism shape the 20th century?
Main Subject
Key stage
History: Modern World c. 1900-present
Includes answers
Resource type
Complete lesson
Concepts and methods
Concepts and methods

In this topical and highly relevant KS3 history lesson, students consider how environmentalism shaped the 20th century.

Students start by answering 'wh' questions about a snippet from Greta Thunberg's 2019 speech 'Our House is on Fire'. They then read about the etymology of the word 'environmentalism' and about the earliest origins of environmental protection in the 6th century BC revival of Jainism.

The next task, on the development of the environmental movement in the USA and Europe from the late 19th century onwards, is differentiated for higher- and lower-ability students. Faster readers can put the events into chronological order and then illustrate them, while less-confident readers can illustrate a chronologically ordered storyboard. Students then answer comprehension questions about what they have read.

The information cards in this task contain links to further sources of information, which students can follow up as an extension task or for homework.

As a plenary, students place themselves on a continuum to say how far they agree about the impact of environmentalism.

One of the information cards from the storyboard task:

In 1889, Emily Williamson set up the Society for the Protection of Birds. By 1900, public support had grown and it had over 25,000 members. The garden city movement incorporated many environmental concerns into its urban planning manifesto. The Socialist League and the Clarion movement also began to advocate measures of nature conservation.

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