Learning Exercise

Ecological Footprint Quiz & Reflection

An assignment to help students assess and reflect on their impact on the planet.
Course: Soc 200, Soc 202, Soc 268

This site offers users the opportunity to take a brief quiz that assesses the extent of their "ecological footprint,"... see more


To begin our study of the environment, you are going to learn about your ¿environmental footprint.¿ Your environmental footprint is an evaluation of how much your way of life (including the foods you eat, the other products you use, the facilities you live in, and the forms of transportation you use) affects the earth¿-or, more specifically, how much of the world¿s resources you use up, compared to what your fair share of the world¿s resources would be. (Your fair share of the world¿s resources would be the world¿s resources divided evenly among all people on earth.) To begin this assignment, you are going to take an online quiz that will ask you a few simple questions about what you use and how you live on a daily basis, and then will give you an evaluation of your environmental footprint. (Note: one question asks you for your email address. I don¿t know what they¿ll send you if you submit it; feel free to submit your email address if you¿d like to, but also feel free to leave this question blank. It won¿t affect your ability to complete the quiz and get the results you need.) To take this quiz, go to http://www.myfootprint.org. You should see a map of the world. Put your mouse over the United States, and a list of countries should appear. Put your mouse over the United States in this list, and a list of languages should pop up to the right. Put your mouse over English, and click. Now you should see the first several questions of the quiz. Complete the questions on this screen, and then click the blue ¿right arrow¿ button below the questions to continue to the next set of questions. Once you have completed all the questions, you will get your results. In your journal entry for this assignment, record the following information from your page of results: My total footprint: Footprint of average American: Worldwide fair share footprint: Number of planets necessary for everyone in the world to live like me: (Note: the worldwide fair share footprint is another way of saying the number of biologically productive acres worldwide per person.) *** After you have recorded this information, find the ¿What you can do¿ heading on the right. Click on each of the links under this heading (Individuals, Community Members and City Officials, Businesses, Nation, and Schools and Campuses) and read the suggestions for how each group can work towards reducing our environmental footprints. In your journal entry, write a paragraph (or more) on what you learned from these ¿What you can do¿ pages. What suggestions were there that you hadn¿t heard/thought of? Do you believe that these changes are what is needed to fix environmental problems? Why/why not? Which changes do you think are most important? What barriers do you see to making these changes? *** Next, find the ¿Comments and Questions¿ heading on the right. Click ¿What about other species?¿ under this heading. (Note, this will produce a pop-up window. If you have a pop-up blocker active on your computer, you may need to temporarily disable it to see the window.) Read the information about other species, and decide based on that information how much land you think we should set aside toward the goal of maintaining biodiversity. Enter that percentage and hit the ¿calculate¿ button. Record the following information in your journal entry: Percentage of the biosphere I suggested setting aside: Number of acres this would leave for each person on earth: Number of planets necessary for everyone in the world to live like me if we set aside this much land for biodiversity: *** Finally, conclude your journal entry with at least one paragraph of reflection on this exercise overall. Do you think the environment is something we should be concerned about? Why/why not? What did you learn from this exercise? How did the exercise affect your ideas about the environment, if at all? How does the issue of biodiversity and the survival of other species affect your view of environmental issues? [Note: If you have completed this assignment correctly, your journal entry will have four parts¿-the first set of numbers, your response to the suggested changes, the second set of numbers, and your final reflection.]


Basic web browsing skills



Learning Objectives

Understand how daily life practices affect the world's environment Understand how American consumption patterns compare to those of people in other parts of the world Understand how much about American life would need to change in order to protect the earth's resources Understand how our consumption patterns relate to the health of animals and plants (biodiversity) Understand how daily life can be changed on an individual and group basis to reduce ecological damage


I evaluate this homework assignment based on completion and quality of reflection. I check to be sure that students have completed the quiz and generated appropriate numbers, and that their responses show careful reflection about what the quiz shows them and how the information relates to their own opinions about the environment. I also lead a class discussion on what they learned at the class session when the assignment is due.