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Created by


Jun 25, 2021


80 minutes


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Justice

Resource Language:


Regional Focus



Google Slides

Airport-Related Environmental Injustice


This lesson explores aviation’s impact on climate change, its connection to environmental justice, and ways to reduce aviation. Students will explore case studies of airport-related environmental injustice and discuss the just transition away from aviation.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students learn how aviation is related to climate change and environmental justice.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students explore examples of airport-related environmental injustice.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students discuss the just transition away from aviation.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
25 minutes

  • Teacher creates groups of 3-4 students. Each group of students needs a copy of the Student Slideshow for their group.

  • Teacher asks the guiding question: “How is aviation related to climate change and environmental justice?”

    • Students write their response on Student Slide 4.

    • Students turn and talk with their group.

    • Select students share out their responses with the entire class.

  • Teacher explains: “Today we will be looking at aviation and how it relates to climate change and environmental justice. Then we will look at some case studies around the world to see what is happening when new airports are constructed or current airports are expanded.”

  • Teacher uses the slideshow to:

    • Explain the climate impact of aviation.

    • Explain the injustice of flying.

    • Explain what can happen when new airports are constructed or current airports are expanded.

  • Teacher reads through “What is the climate impact of aviation?” (Teacher Slides 7-10)

    • Students answer prompts on Student Slide 10.

    • Students turn and talk with their group.

    • Select students share out their responses with the entire class.

  • Teacher reads through “How unjust is flying?” (Teacher Slides 11-14)

    • Students answer prompts on Student Slide 15.

    • Students turn and talk with their group.

    • Select students share out their responses with the entire class.

35 minutes
  • Teacher explains that students will explore the environmental justice atlas.

  • Teacher reads the “What is this Project about?” section on Teacher Slide 17.

  • Optional: Teacher can read some or all of the more detailed descriptions in the Map of Airport-Related Injustice and Resistance after clicking “see more” on the right side.

  • In groups, students explore the Map of Airport-Related Injustice and Resistance. 

    • Students click through various sites on the map, exploring different case studies.

    • Each group selects one case study and reads through the information.

    • Each group collaboratively completes Student Slide 17.

  • Groups take turns sharing their findings with the rest of the class.

20 minutes

Teaching Tips


  • This lesson outlines how airports harm people and the planet. 
  • Students are able to select their own airport case studies around the world.
  • Students will engage in a lively discussion at the end of the lesson.

Additional Prerequisites


  • Feel free to skim over Teacher Slide 9 in the teacher slideshow. There is a lot of text on that slide. You can also have students explore that slide together for a few minutes in groups. Then they can share their takeaways with the rest of the class.

  • Students will have to sift through the information on the Environmental Justice Atlas to find what is necessary to find for their slideshow. Students will retrieve valuable information while ignoring some other information. You may have to help students who are not skillful at skimming through information.

  • At the end of the lesson, some students might not support any of the four proposed ways to reduce aviation. That is totally fine. As the teacher, you should present evidence and ask good questions.

  • When discussing the transition away from fossil fuels, imagine a world free of “fossil fuel noise.” There would be no internal combustion engines in airplanes, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. This world will be quieter, cleaner, and healthier. Imagining a beautiful future Earth may help you and your students envision what is possible for our future.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.6.6-8 Describe the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people's lives.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
      • D2.Eco.2.6-8 Evaluate alternative approaches or solutions to current economic issues in terms of benefits and costs for different groups and society as a whole.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
      • D2.Geo.4.6-8 Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
      • D2.Geo.5.6-8 Analyze the combinations of cultural and environmental characteristics that make places both similar to and different from other places.
      • D2.Geo.7.6-8 Explain how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices.
      • D2.Geo.8.6-8 Analyze how relationships between humans and environments extend or contract spatial patterns of settlement and movement.
      • D2.Geo.12.6-8 Explain how global changes in population distribution patterns affect changes in land use in particular places.
    • Dimension 4: Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
      • D4.1.6-8 Construct arguments using claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging the strengths and limitations of the arguments.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.6-8 Draw on multiple disciplinary lenses to analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.


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