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Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, University of Wisconsin


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Scientific Papers or Reports, 18 pages

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin



Community Sustainability Assessment Report - 2021

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  • As a part of Wisconsin's initiatives to address climate change, the Community Sustainability Working Group created this report to detail ways in which communities can take action and plan for a more sustainable future.
  • This report describes how communities can focus on more than energy savings, such as community agriculture, floodplain management, infrastructure improvements, and water conservation.
  • Throughout the report, specific community plans for different cities are linked as examples.
Teaching Tips


  • The report defines attributes of sustainability in their framework, such as a holistic outlook, focus on place, and integration into local policies.
  • The report includes excellent references and resources linked at the end including the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, which focuses on community planning and a list of potential sustainability policies for communities to implement.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of the following environmental science terms: sustainability, renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and green infrastructure.
  • The link on page 12 for PSC EIC - Energy Independent Communities and the first and third links on page 15 under Endnotes and References are broken links.


  • Consider spending a few days reading this report in class with students, breaking up the reading with graphic organizers, discussions, and activities related to community planning and sustainability.
  • After reading the report, ask students whether they think sustainability planning is more effective at the organization level or at the community level.
  • Have students review either Milwaukee's or Eau Claire's city plans on sustainability/climate change and have them choose one specific green initiative to discuss.
  • Teachers can also introduce or review the three main categories of climate change solutions: energy shift, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation. After looking at some of the community plans, students can find one initiative that fits with each category.
Scientist Notes
This Community Sustainability Working Group Assessment Report from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts provides a comprehensive review of what action is currently taking place across Wisconsin in terms of sustainability, as well as future actions that communities and organizations can take. The document walks readers through how a sustainability community is developed, how to plan for community sustainability, as well as example community initiatives. This report is well sourced and would be a great addition to a classroom discussion about climate change, sustainability, and how communities can get involved to affect change.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.12.9-12 Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
      • D2.Civ.5.9-12 Evaluate citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.
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