The Green German Project is a collection of open-access teaching materials and curricular resources related to sustainability and environmental topics. Developed for use by teachers, students, and curriculum designers, its intended audience is German language and culture courses at the intermediate–advanced level. Users are invited to adapt the materials to their own program needs. The developers gratefully acknowledge the support for the project provided by a Title VI grant through the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) in summer 2011.
Module 1: Nachhaltigkeit
This module introduces students to the concept of sustainability through video, discussion, personal reflection, and group consensus. Students are exposed to vocabulary and central issues within sustainability for use in subsequent models. A set of grammar exercises can be found in curricular materials with a focus on language learning and the primarily interpretive nature of the other materials in this module and others.
Module 2: Carbon Footprint
This module introduces students to the concepts of carbon footprints, cumulative effects of actions and decisions, and social and personal responsibility for environmental issues. At the end, students are able to produce rough calculations of their carbon footprints and compare their country’s average footprint to those of other countries.
Module 3: Food Supply
This module introduces students to the production, transport, and commerce of food on a global scale. Topics range from organic labeling practices to the disposal of old bread. Students are asked to consider the practical and ethical dimensions of food production in not only German-speaking countries but also in their own.
Module 4: Recycling Practices
This module complements the information about recycling in German-speaking countries in the typical curriculum by giving greater detail about foreign practices, encouraging reflection about personal actions, and showcasing new research in reusable and 100% recyclable products. In the final activity, students design a detailed draft of a product that fulfills some of the criteria they have learned about in this module.
Module 5: Verkehr
This module covers transportation topics such as hybrid and electric cars, public transportation and the environment, fleets of ecologically friendlier vehicles in Europe and the US, and comparative emissions by vehicle type. The primary pedagogical focuses are arguing points using data and expressing opinions derived through the analysis of a range of authentic materials, peer information, and personal reflection.
Module 6: Civic Engagement
This module details the state of green politics and associated parties in the US and Germany, as well as the range of governmental, non-profit, private, and other programs in the area of environmentalism and sustainability in the German-speaking world. Differences between the reception of green politics in each country are highlighted with the goal of understanding the cultural differences that lie beneath them. Finally, a small section of the Erneubare-Energien-Gesetz shows future aims of political environmentalism and sustainability in Germany.
Module 7: Urban Sustainability Projects
This module covers passive houses, parks, and other green areas within cities, Hamburg’s Ecocity, and pedestrian zones. Students learn about the technological and design principles behind some of the future directions of sustainable urban living in Germany and parallel developments in the US. The final project requires summarizing information from this and other modules to design a pedestrian zone that takes into account the practical and ecological concerns of a city.
Module 8: Renewable Energy
This module introduces students to the types of conventional (fossil fuel and atomic) energies in use today, as well as to current and planned uses of wind power, water power, biomass, solar power, and geothermal energy. Students learn about the German opposition to atomic power and about those who support it.
Module 9: Nature and Protection
This module takes a broad view on the protection and management of natural resources, from forestry to the protection of biological diversity in wild and urban environments. Students are also exposed to diverse opinions about the role of time and perception in the public understanding of ‘nature’ within the topic of weather and climate change. The group project is to plan a local conservation project. Examples of at-risk species or locales will vary by the school's location (e.g., urban vs. rural).
Module 10: Law and Environment
This module introduces students to some basic concepts of environmental law in Germany, the US, and the European Union. The primary focuses are tensions between federal and regional or local laws, case studies in local law, and the comparison of environmental law in different countries.
Module 11: Freiburg im Breisgau
This module introduces students to Freiburg im Breisgau as a model city of ecologically friendly practices, business, and development, focusing on solar power, alternative building strategies, energy consumption and production, and environmental politics with a comparative dimension. The final essay requires students to summarize cogent points from a text.
Module 12: Media Reporting
This module focuses on the presentation of ecological themes in news media and governmental marketing campaigns. Students are asked to describe bias where it is present, discuss the relation between visual and written contexts, and evaluate the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between marketing slogans for the same product.
Module 13: Historical Aspects
This module covers approximately the most recent four decades of the environmental and sustainability movements from political and social perspectives. Students are encouraged to discuss historical issues in light of present circumstances. In the essay, students can compare legal, political, and social differences and similarities between the US and Germany.
Module 14: Bewusstes Leben
This module returns to the two principal tasks of Module 1 – reflection and group discussion about sustainability and its application in daily life. Students then take the knowledge they have gained throughout the other modules to compile a new list of ways to live sustainably.
Module 15: Global Perspectives
This module provides a global perspective on environmental and sustainability issues in general and from within the German perspective. Students are encouraged to consider the global ramifications of local and regional decisions. The map activity requires a basic knowledge of the geography of environmental problems, some of which is provided by other activities within this curriculum. Instructors may wish to supplement students’ current knowledge with text-based indicators of prominent locations, which can then be located on the map.