Contemporary World Problems Global Issues Sustainability Research Project

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
55 PDF + 35 Google Slides pages
Share this resource
Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).

Also included in

  1. This tightly-woven semester course combines Human Geography, Contemporary World Issues, and Environmental Science into a must-teach inquiry-driven, real-world, project-based experience.With these thematic, inquiry-driven units that build on each other, ask students to decide for themselves where the
    Save $16.00


Culminate your Human Geography, Contemporary World Issues or Environmental Science course with this highly scaffolded research paper and one-pager project that lets you or your students choose the environmental issue of the 21st century!

It's two projects in one! Students can either:

  • Design a one-pager poster, creating a visual learning tool for others
  • Construct an in-depth research essay, diving into the roots of the issue and thoroughly debate possible solutions

Everything is included, from brainstorm to final edit, for your students to research and argue the urgency of their chosen issue and the best solutions to addressing it.

All student sheets come in both print PDF and digital for Google Slides.


Greatness is deeply exploring a pressing issue in order to be part of its solution.

Climate change is the contemporary world( issue of the 21st century, but where do we as individuals even begin when the world's leaders don't seem to have made it a priority? In this complete kit. hear the story of how Aji Piper and other teenagers successfully sued the U.S. government for failing to act and inspire your students to research and stand up for the global issue that they believe is a top priority.

Note: this project has been designed with a global environmental issues angle, but works for any contemporary issue study.

Facilitate your students on their quest through an environmental issue of their choice as they research, decide, and defend their findings in a visual one-pager or formal research paper that answers the overarching inquiry, “What are the environmental priorities of the 21st century?"

You will set each of your students up for success in this low-prep project, regardless of ability, with all the highly scaffolded graphic organizers, skill sheets, and supports included at each step of the way.

Empower your students to be their own self-guided researchers and evaluators, their own teachers and activists.

Included in this complete 2-3 weeks research project unit:

Teacher Materials

  • 3-page Project Overview and 6 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from introductions activities to project submission with differentiation ideas, bell ringer and exit ticket options, and lesson takeaways
  • Links to free online sources
  • Suggested answer keys to introduction activities

Student Materials

4 Introductions Activities

  • Concept Definition: build a growing nuanced definition throughout the research process to the concept “sustainability"
  • Aji Piper TED Talk: watch, analyze, and reflect on his compelling story of how he and other teenagers have sued the government for its inaction on climate change
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals: explore the lofty but urgent goals set forth by the world's most powerful organization
  • Op-Ed Analysis: annotate, analyze, and evaluate UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres applaud of youth activists in climate change

One-Pager Poster Project

  • Project Check-Off Sheet: break down and track the entire project into 6 manageable steps
  • Research Kick-Off Sheet: brainstorm search keywords and sources
  • Research Homepage Sheet: sort, record information gathered (formatted to utilize sticky notes, but not required!)
  • Sample One-Pager Project: provide this example to support students along the way
  • One-Pager Requirements & Rubric Sheet: provide this detailed list and set of student-friendly rubrics to guide them to exceed

Research Essay

  • Project Check-Off Sheet: break down and track the entire project into 6 manageable steps
  • Research Kick-Off Sheet: brainstorm search keywords and sources
  • Research Homepage Sheet- sort, record information gathered (formatted to utilize sticky notes, but not required!)
  • Essay Body Outline & Intro/Conclusion Sheets: provide guidance for developing a strong rough draft
  • Sample Essay: provide this example to support students along the way
  • Edit Checklist Sheet: perfect for either self- or peer-editing
  • Reflection & Rubric Sheet: provide this end-of-project self-analysis and set of student-friendly rubrics to guide them to exceed

Additional Resources

  • Blank Concept Definition and Source Analysis Sheets: support students in deepening understanding of their chosen issue and independently researching it
  • Skill Sheets: Annotating a Text, News Media Source Analysis, Finding Appropriate Sources, Constructing a Thesis, Creating a Works Cited, Annotating a Citation, Deciding a Precise Position, Constructing a Thesis


Notes from my Classroom

I use this project to meet state, school, and department requirements that students conduct an end-of-course research paper. We dedicate the last three weeks of my Global Issues to Empower course to diving into these issues. I give students the freedom to pick the pressing issue they want to research.

I accommodate my lower students by providing them the one-pager option and help them locate high-quality sources. But, if you are short on time or want to focus more on the research process than the writing process, the one-pager option is rigorous for any middle or high school level!

We conduct this research project right after completing our Sustainability & Consumption of Water, Energy, & Garbage PBL Unit so my students often already have a specific issue in mind about which they are passionate.

By providing so much scaffolding with various handouts, tools, and sources, it's easy to cater to all ability levels, allowing even below-grade level students success in this challenging project!

Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:

  • the independent inquiry of this project is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
  • a wide age and ability range can easily access sources at their reading levels, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
  • your student’s voice is central to each step of this project, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
  • each stage of the research process can be completed independently and isn't solely reliant on group or whole-class work
  • all utilized sources are free and easily accessible online (links provided)


Like this project? Grab the rest of the course!

Global Issues to Empower is a semester-long current events, human geography, and environmental science all-in-one course that will create global citizens out of your students

Or check out these Global Issues stand-alone units!

These units can be easily integrated into your Current Events, Human Geography, or Environmental Science course (more units coming!)

  • Population Growth: a 3-week unit exploring what the simultaneous global problem of explosive population growth as well as alarming decline
  • Globalization: a 4-week unit exploring the exponential growth of trade, technology, and travel that has created unbelievable global economic and cultural change
  • Water Supply & Pollution: a 3-week unit exploring our finite freshwater supply and the human rights, pollution, and conservation issues that need urgent solutions
  • Fossil Fuels & Alternatives: a 3-week unit exploring our addiction to oil, the harsh impact it is having on our air pollution and greenhouse gas levels, and the urgent need to switch to clean renewable energy sources
  • Plastic & Garbage: a 3-week unit exploring the modern invention of garbage, landfills, and single-use disposables, the effects it is having on our oceans, and how a zero-waste lifestyle can be possible
  • Global Priorities Research Project: a 2-option, 2-3 week capstone research project where students complete either a one-pager or research essay on the global issue they find most pressing

This listing is for one license for regular classroom use by a single teacher only. In upholding copyright law, resources are uneditable, unless otherwise stated. By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases". Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.

Total Pages
55 PDF + 35 Google Slides pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
Report this Resource to TpT
Reported resources will be reviewed by our team. Report this resource to let us know if this resource violates TpT’s content guidelines.


to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.
Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.


Questions & Answers

Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials.

More About Us

Keep in Touch!

Sign Up