Keywords: conflict, society, research, management, development; Grade Level: ninth through twelfth grade; Total Time for Lesson: a few weeks, actual class time will be approximately three or four class periods; Setting: classroom and library

Materials Needed

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will learn the impact that wildlife has on society
  • Students will learn the impact that society has on wildlife.
  • Students will learn the relationship between wildlife and economics and society.
  • The lessons learned will be in the form of conflict and resolution.

Academic Standards Addressed: E & E: Understand the conflicting rights of property owners and environmental laws and regulations; Analyze the roles that local, state, and federal governments play in the development and enforcement of environmental laws; Identify natural resources for which societal demands have been increasing; Compare and contrast the environmental effects of different industrial strategies (e.g., energy generation, transportation, logging, mining, agriculture); Explain the role of natural resources in sustaining society; Analyze research and development activities as they relate to agriculture, wildlife, and the economy; Analyze environmental laws and regulations as they relate to environmental issues.


Students will utilize information involving the controversial issues of wildlife and society. Students should be familiar with how to do research and analyze primary research sources. Students should also be familiar with controversial issues and how to reach decisions based on interviews, data, and analysis. Note: A good suggestion would be to tie this lesson in to a chapter on the Industrial Revolution.


Part 1

  1. Have a class discussion on "conflict." Have students write down what they think conflict is and how it is resolved. Some historical lessons that could be used to exemplify this include The Protestant Reformation, WWII, The Civil War, etc.
  2. Have the students discuss what conflicts there are in society including how attitudes and opinions lead to conflict. Note: This could be done as a cooperative learning exercise, depending on the dynamics of the class.
  3. Have the students research the conflicts between wildlife and society (handout 1). Some of the methods to be used include the Internet, personal interviews, etc. The teacher may lead into this by explaining the conflict of reintroducing the wolves into Yellowstone National Park. The students should be aware of the impacts this action will have on wildlife and society including tourists, farmers, and hunters.
  4. Have the students select topics on conflict between society and wildlife. Depending on the level of the students, the teacher can suggest topics for the students. Some topics include:
    • The hunter versus the animal rights activist
    • boats bottoms damage marine life
    • oil spills and wildlife urban sprawl
    • destruction of the rainforests and clearcutting forests
    • e motions versus science
  1. The students need to stay focused on the assignment, which is to demonstrate the relationship between the topics and society. The students should keep in mind that most of the topics include what we call "progress." When does this "progress" hurt? When is development a problem? Students should keep in mind the following: How does the conflict and its solution influence society? Jobs? Standard of living? People? Habitat? Wildlife?


The Mojave National Preserve, created in 1994, encompasses natural and cultural resources. The preserve is a "hotbed" of diversity and is home to more than 700 plant species, the world's largest Joshua Tree forest, and 200 animal species, including the threatened tortoise and bighorn sheep. It also houses prehistoric petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks and provides outstanding recreational opportunities.

Federal legislation was recently introduced that could irreversibly harm the fragile desert landscape. Senators Reid and Bryan and Congressman Gibbons of Nevada have introduced bills to authorize the sale of public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management to Clark County. The land would become the site of a large cargo airport that would be converted to a passenger airport. The construction of the airport will have a major impact on the Mojave Preserve.

Possible Questions:

  1. What would the airport mean for wildlife and habitat?
  2. What would the airport mean for unemployed workers?
  3. How might the standard of living in the area be improved?
  4. Is this progress? Is this development?
  5. What are the long term effects of the airport?
  6. Who are the people involved in the controversy?
  7. Should the airport be built?
  8. Are people dealing with facts or emotions?

Part 2

  1. Students need to continue to thoroughly research the topic. If there are members of Congress and other officials involved, these people should be contacted. If the project is in California, obviously, it would be difficult to contact the people involved. Therefore, students may wish to contact a developer in the area who may have been involved in similar situations.


  1. Students will prepare a speech detailing the issue to the rest of the class. A copy of the format for the speech is attached.
  2. When all speeches are concluded, the class should be divided into groups of four. The people in each group will re-analyze each of the issues and discuss all aspects, this will allow for more opinions and further analysis.
  3. Each group will write a solution to each of the four issues (two to three pages). The groups are "charged" with presenting both sides of the argument and they must present a solution. It is okay to have a "split" decision. All members of the group should be included in the paper including quotes, etc.


  1. The solutions are read to the class.
  2. The rest of the class is encouraged to ask questions, debate, and discuss as necessary. This may be facilitated by the teacher. A copy of a "Class Debate" for a controversial issue is attached.
  3. Students should realize that there are a lot of opinions on wildlife and land usage. Not only does land usage affect wildlife, but it also affects society. It is our world and we must continue to make wise decisions for all involved.


Environment and Nature News.

National Parks and Conservation Association


Craig Henninger, Elizabethville High School, PA