Teaching Geography Through a Sustainability Lens

Through a joint project of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) and Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF), a team of geographers from YRDSB and a facilitator from LSF were assembled to create resources that help students to examine the ministry-mandated concepts in grade-nine geography using a sustainability lens. 

To the right is the resource guide with valuable, ready-to-use, classroom activities. 

Guiding questions include:

  • How is everything interconnected?
  • Should you care about others and/or your place?
  • Are the current ‘relationships’ (between humans, between humans and the ‘environment’, etc.) ‘continue-able’? i.e. able to persist?
  • Are the ‘relationships’ fair?
  • Can you change the ‘relationships’?

Resource guide:

  • Teaching Geography Through a Sustainability Lens: Classroom Ready Activities (2014)
The modules in the resource guide help students to attain the ministry ‘outcomes’ (i.e. curriculum expectations). Each module (3-5 days) integrates with one conventional unit in grade-nine geography in order to encourage the examination of the unit content from a sustainability perspective. The modules are designed to build upon one another. Alternatively, teachers can choose to use only those there is time for as they have been designed to also work independently.


  • What is Fair
  • Sense of Place Module
  • Lens Activity
  • Physical Unit Module
  • Human Unit Module
  • Human Environment Unit Module
  • Global Unit Module
  • Culminating Activity

The resources in the guide were developed using five ‘big questions’ that students should considered throughout grade nine geography in order to encourage responsible citizenship. Two foundation modules, What is Fair? and the Lens Module, are revisited again and again through the five focusing questions. This helps the students to approach all of the issues in the course from a critical perspective—it allows them to entertain possibilities beyond the status quo.

The strength of the project is not just in the individual modules (they are well-developed and ready-to-use), but also in the effort to thread five focusing questions throughout the course to add meaning to all of the activities in the course and to help students to understand the purpose of the course.

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