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Moral Leadership and the Environment (Lesson with PowerPoint)

Detail of leaf, Canada. CREDIT: Curt Carnemark/World Bank (CC)

This lesson allows students to evaluate and discuss why environmental protection is a moral/social justice issue using the Flint Water Crisis as a case study.

The attached PowerPoint has students explore how human health can be negatively affected by air and water pollution as well as how climate change can intensify natural disasters. They are then asked: How do we overcome these challenges? Through a reading or video activity along with the attached worksheet, students will analyze how the community and government responded to dangerously contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. They will look at techniques used by community leaders and discuss what makes a "moral leader" when it comes to the environment and how can we, as individuals, be part of the solution.

Suggested accompanying research projects:

  • Students can research other issues related to human health and the environment, such as air pollution or oil spills. Who was responsible for the contamination? Who was the whistle blower? What ultimately happened? Is there now long-term policy to prevent an issue like this from happening again?

  • Students can research two American leaders in the environmental movement–one from the 20th century and another from the 21st century–and compare their ideas, campaigns, successes, and failures. What has changed in the last hundred years concerning the environment? Do the same problems still persist? Is it harder or easier to create positive environmental change today than it was in the 20th century? Do the leaders of these movements share the same "moral" characteristics?