Where Is the Environment and What Do People Do There?

Time needed

5 minutes

Why do it?

Many students understand “the environment” as something that only exists in the wilderness. They may also think of what people “do” there as limited to recreational sports. This quick teaching tool challenges this view and shares the definition of the environment used by the environmental justice movement. It is meant to help students see “the environment” everywhere, and therefore have a stronger foundation for understanding the relationship between the environment and human health and well-being.


  • Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
  • Projector, printouts, or other way to show the photos to your class one at a time.


  1. Tell the group to raise their hands when they see photos of the environment.
  2. Show photos one at a time, giving a few moments for students to raise their hands or not in response to each photo.
  3. After showing all the photos, reflect briefly on the class consensus on which photos depicted the environment. If most students raised their hands only for the wilderness and recreational sports photos, note that this understanding reflects the mainstream view of the environment in the USA, but that the environmental justice movement sees the environment differently. If students raised their hands for all photos, note that this understanding reflects the environmental justice movement’s view of the environment, but that often people only see the environment as something that exists only in the wilderness.
  4. Share the definition of the environment used in the environmental justice movement: the places where we live, work, play and learn.


  • Substitute or add photos from your community to personalize the lesson for students.