Enduring Understandings

Theme 3

For this unit, 'The Environment and Society', the enduring understandings are:
  • Everything we do has an impact on ourselves and on our environment
  • Systems within an environment are interdependent
  • Systems can create inequities
  • The Past and Present affect the Future
  • Human needs depend upon available resources

What are Enduring Understandings?

Every unit in Grade 8 Humanities has what we call 'Enduring Understandings'
Do you remember what these are?

Yes! You're right! They are the ideas that we want you to take away with you when we've finished the unit. Everything that we do in the unit is focused on exploring these ideas and consolidating our understanding of them.


When we explore something, we investigate its background, its connections, its meaning - anything that's relevant
NASA artist imagines future explorers on the Red Planet

Like the explorers in the image above, as we move through this project, you are collecting information at every stage.

Consolidating understanding

What helps you to understand new information, or to make more sense of something you've been learning about? Think about all the activities you've been involved in throughout this unit. You have been an explorer, a learner and a teacher. You have led activities and explained ideas. What do you know about our topic and the issues?

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty." Henry Ford

We hope that this project, from the class wiki, to your workshops, group wikis and class activities, will all help you develop a better grasp of the key ideas (enduring understandings) of this unit

The Purpose of this Unit

Thinking as a community

To be a citizen of the 21st century means that more than ever before, we need to be many things: responsible global citizens, self-directed, skilled in decision making, adaptable to an environment that is changing all the time, and aware that we are all members of a community and that we rely on each other. When we talk about the relationship between environment (the world around us) and society, we're talking about how we as individuals can affect our world, and our communities, and how they in turn can affect us. What a massive concept! Think about it. Everything we do (or don't do) has an impact on someone or some thing.
Read the following:
Many communities these days find themselves under extraordinary stress. Even in affluent communities, taking care of one another - educating our kids, caring for the ill, helping people who need a hand - is proving difficult. In less-than-affluent communities, the stresses of extreme poverty, oppression, environmental injustice, failed educational systems, and diseases like HIV/AIDS are making life a daily challenge.
To solve problems like these takes more than individual action - it takes community action. Communities of all kinds need to work together, thinking about the problems they face in a holistic way, and working to strengthen the fabric that binds us together
World Changing: Change your thinking

What can communities do?

Example of a Community’s Action
The Stanford Challenge campaign
“The second component of the campaign focuses on preparing students to become a generation of leaders in a world transformed by global realities. The university is increasing its commitment to improving K-12 education, focusing on new efforts in the arts and liberal education, innovating in graduate education and further enhancing undergraduate education. The Stanford Challenge also seeks to increase undergraduate and graduate financial aid, including extension of need-based scholarships to international undergraduate students and loan repayment assistance for graduate students who go on to work in the public interest.”
Stanford University, California, USA

Gaining Knowledge

As global citizens, we need to know what is happening in our world today. The more we know, the more connections we can make and the more able we are to problem-solve.
Here in Grade 8 at SAS Pudong, we're going to look at the following specific global issues
  • Massive step-up in the fight against poverty
  • Peacekeeping, conflict prevention and combating terrorism
  • Education for all
  • Digital divide
  • International Labor and migration rules

Remind yourself of the following enduring understandings from Theme 1:
  • Problem solving requires a systematic approach
  • Information exists in a variety of forms
  • All evidence has limitations
  • Argument requires evidence

Keep in mind that in order to address the issues in Environment and Society: Global Issues, we need to be systematic in our approach

How can I, as a 13 year old, get involved?

Global Issues Network (GIN)

Our school is going to take part in the Global Issues Network conference in Beijing in April. A summary of this is below.
Students can be encouraged to think systemically about real issues while also taking action to improve the human condition. This approach involves collaboration rather than competition, where students assume leadership of their own programme. Their network should promote both face-to-face conferences and on-going communication via the latest technologies.
The Beijing Conference
Earth’s Hope is the theme of the EARCOS Global Issues Network Conference to be held in Beijing April 4, 5 & 6 at Western Academy of Beijing. The Global Issues Network is based on the ideas in Jean Francois Rischard’s book “Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them.” Rischard identifies 20 urgent global problems and encourages the formation of small groups around the world to help solve them. This echoes Margaret Mead’s famous quotation, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Global Issues Groups have been formed in many international schools throughout EuropeAsia. We invite all EARCOS schools to send a group (2-6) of students to this life changing event. empowering international school students to help solve urgent global problems. We in EARCOS will now have the opportunity to do the same to create change in
All schools are invited to present a student led workshop. The workshops can take many forms but should be student centered and as interactive as possible! Workshops should focus on one of the following:
  • Raising awareness on any global issue your students think is important
  • Explaining one of your school's service projects and how your students are "making a difference."
  • Global Issues Network activities/projects at your school.

Only 1 group can go, so as part of our preparation, we are going to take ownership of these issues and decide how we want to get involved.

So, perhaps the following could be our key words here at SAS Pudong:

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