Government Lessons

Big Idea

Concerns about the environment include protection of air and water quality, the location of new industries and waste management facilities and the remediation of contaminated property. A grassroots movement initiated by residents in a community exposed to TCE issued a call for environmental justice by pressuring local government officials and agencies to deal with the problem of contaminated water in their community. 

Essential Question

How did the affected residents raise community awareness of the dilemma and to what extent did their grassroots movement initiate government officials to take action in acknowledging and then resolving the problem? Does socioeconomic status or race have any relationship in dealing with environmental issues in a timely basis?

Learning Cycle




A Story To Tell 
Students will read various news articles and other documents to gain an understanding of how the residents in a neighborhood in South Tucson were affected after drinking TCE 

1. Identify the potential causes and effects of contamination of drinking water in a south side neighborhood. 
2. Describe how a grassroots campaign evolved when the problem of contaminated water became known to residents living in the effected area. 
3. Explain the role of government in ensuring a safe living environment for all citizens.



A Grassroots Campaign Evolves
This series of lessons will introduce students to the local and federal government agencies that dealt with the issue of TCE in the water supply of a South Tucson neighborhood, how people became aware there was a problem and finally how a grassroots campaign originated from the concerns of local residents. 

1. Identify government agencies that are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe environment. 
2. Explain the effect that TCE has on humans. 
3. Explain how community groups lobbied government agencies to resolve the problem of TCE contamination.

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Environmental Justice for All
The EPA created the Office of Environmental Justice in 1992, in response to public concerns that environmental polices were not enforced equitably. In order for Environmental Justice to have real significance, it is important for community residents to be informed and actively involved on the environmental issues in their area. In this lesson students will evaluate the effectiveness of government institutions and the role of citizens in dealing with environmental hazards. 


1. Define environmental justice and explain how it is enforced.
2. Explain the role of citizens in ensuring that the government is in compliance of following environmental justice principles. 
3. Explain why it was necessary for the federal government to establish mandates regarding environmental justice. 


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A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Activism
Students will participate in a workshop where they will present their understanding of environmental activism and it significance to their community. 

1. Explain how they can become involved in their local community. 2. Identify significant features of a grassroots campaign.
3. Explain how they can ensure that their local officials are held accountable for maintaining a clean and healthy environment by applying their understanding to a new local issue.

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