Big Idea: Environmental Justice

Apr 21, 2021

Earth Day provides an opportunity to focus on a vast array of environmental crises and identify ways to make a difference. The impact of environmental issues is often experienced disproportionately by communities of color and low-income communities.

Join educators worldwide to identify environmental justice challenges and develop sustainable and meaningful solutions. Share your Challenges and Solutions #challengeforchange #challengebasedlearning

Take Action. Make a Difference.


Sample Big Idea, Essential Question, and Challenge

Big Idea: Environmental Justice
Essential Question: How can we ensure that everyone has
 access to a healthy environment to live, learn, and work in?
Challenge: Create a better world through environmental justice, and share it with the world.


Sample Guiding Questions

These are only example questions. We encourage you to ask as many personal and contextual questions as possible. For help with developing quality questions check out this resource.

  1. What is environmental justice?
  2. How do environmental issues disproportionately 
impact communities 
 with high poverty?
  3. What environmental injustices exist in my community?
  4. Are there organizations I can work with in my community?
  5. How do we ensure everyone has a voice in the conversation?
  6. How does environmental justice improve the world?
  7. Etc.

*Once you brainstorm all of the questions take time to organize and prioritize them.

Guiding Activities and Resources
These are only a set of example activities and resources. The learners will need to evaluate the quality and applicability of the content. They are just meant to serve as examples. The ones that you choose should be in direct relationship to your specific guiding questions and context. Activities and resources for adults, adolescents, and younger children will be different. The goal is to develop solutions that mean something in your community and are sustainable.

Example Activities

  1. Conduct desk research to find out more about Environmental Justice and organizations currently involved in the movement.
  2. Meet with local conservationists and activists to learn more about specific issues in your community.
  3. Take a walk around your community and take pictures of Environmental Issues and then connect your images to community maps and statistics.
  4. Participate in Earth Day Activites and newtowrk with students around the world.
  5. Etc.

Example Resources

    1. Apple Challenge Series Discussion Guide
    2. Tools for Environmental Justice 
    3. Earth Day Site
    4. Learn About Environmental Justice


Using the research findings from your Investigations develop a synthesis that demonstrates a clear understanding of the challenge. For help with creating a synthesis explore this resource.


Solution Prototypes – Using your research synthesis create multiple ideas for solutions and review each one to make sure your research supports it. Share the prototypes with various stakeholders and get feedback.

Solution – with the feedback from the stakeholders develop one solution that has the most potential for success.

Implement – Develop a plan to implement the solution with the stakeholders and collect data about the impact.

Evaluate – Using quantitative and qualitative measures determine if the solution is valid and what can be improved.


Throughout the experience take time to document the events and reflect on what is happening to build on prior knowledge and identify future questions.

Share what you learned with your local community and the world. Use #challengebasedlearning #challengeforchange on social media.