Shifting public policy to achieve a sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a just society.


Training Manuals

“Thinking Critically about Environmental Impacts throughout History” is a workshop developed for history and social studies teachers who want to incorporate the scientific and social aspects of using renewable resources into classroom teaching. Through the Ecological Footprint framework, educators learn how to help students understand cumulative environmental impacts.

Redefining Progress developed the Ecological Footprint Teacher’s Manual to make this curriculum available for self-paced training. Both complete sections and individual handouts are available for download.

After a series of training sessions in 2005 and 2006, participating teachers submitted their own lesson plans and sample student work. These resources comprise the Lesson Plans and Sample Student Work.

Ecological Footprint Teacher’s Manual

Click on a link to open a PDF that includes the instructions and handouts for the section.

For Educators

Ecological Footprint Handouts

Click on a link to open a single document from the training manual.

Section 1: Overview

Section 2: Handouts and Transparencies

1- Human Needs

2- Sources and Sinks

3- Land Use Types

4-7 Conventional Potato Diagrams

8- Organic Potato Diagram

NEW: Coffee Diagrams

9- EF Definition

10- EF Quiz Excerpts

11- Condensed Quiz Results

12- Land Use Definition

13- Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources

14- Overshoot Definition

15- Sustainability Definition

16- Population Trends

17- Global Distribution of Income

18- Critical Thinking Graphs

19- Factors Affecting the EF

20- Population and Poverty Cycle

21- Food System A

22- Food System B

23- Modern Agriculture Footprints

24- Food Chart

25- Food System History

26- Changing to a Sustainable Food System

27 and 28- Sustainable Food Policies

Section 3: Connecting the Ecological Footprint to History

29- Connecting the EF to History

31-32 Integration Plan

33- Stipend Requirements

34- Identifying EF Connections to Standards

35- Sample EF Activities

36- Sample Research Activities

37- Lesson Plan Overview

California State History/Social Studies Standards and the Ecological Footprint

Elementary School (K-5)

Middle School (6-8)

High School (10-12)

Section 4: Lesson Plans

Food Footprints through Time

Columbian Exchange

Let Them Eat Cake (

When the Chips Are Down: GUIDELINES

When the Chips Are Down (

Section 5: Reading and Resources

Seeds of Change Article

Boston Globe Article

"Hamburger, French Fries, and a Cola"

Food Timeline

List of Resources


Frequent Debates

Eating Up the Earth

Energy Footprints

What about Population?

Evaluation Forms




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Lesson Plans and Sample Student Work

Learn more about integrating the Ecological Footprint into your classroom from K-12 Educators who have attended the “Thinking Critically about Environmental Impacts throughout History” workshop.

Teachers submitted online evaluation forms after using the Footprint in the curriculum. They offered their integration strategies, what standards they addressed, barriers to integration, student reactions, and success stories.

Click a link to download a PDF file with sample lesson plan or student work.

Sample Lesson Plans

1st Grade

7th and 8th Grade History


Natomas High School teacher Serenity Vontroba restructured her geography unit to focus on the Ecological Footprint and the Impact of Human Societies. She has provided a detailed outline of the unit, sample student work, and her observations on student learning and interest.

  • UNIT OUTLINE- Objectives, Lessons, and Observations
  • Objective 1- Human Progression from Hunter/Gatherer to Industrialized Societies
  • Objective 2- Calculating Personal Ecological Footprints
  • Objective 3- Determining Footprints of Products
  • Objective 4- Population and Consumption Trends
  • Objective 5- Global Inequity
  • Objective 6- Impacts of Globalization

10th Grade History

11th Grade History


AP Environmental Science

Mary Kahl-Redman, Natomas High School, integrated the footprint throughout 8 units in her class. Click here to see the units she taught and the materials she used.

9-12 Environmental Science

Tish Tablan, Excelsior Education Center, created a unit and her own lesson plans to conclude her environmental science class, summing up all their work in an action plan.

Sample Student Work

When the Chips Are Down Posters

Students in an AP Environmental Science class at Piedmont High School learned about the social implications of national Ecological Footprints in Facing the Future's activity, “When the Chips Are Down.”

Ecological Footprint of Transportation- Poster/Research Project

This student from Meg Gorman's Economics class at San Francisco Waldorf School researched the Ecological Footprint of transportation throughout history.

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Photo courtesy of J.C. Rojas