Community Problem Solving

About this lesson from CGLAS

Recommended Age Level:   Later Elementary, Middle School, High School

Guiding Question:

How would different community people look at and try to solve an environmental problem in their neighborhood?



Environmental decisions - People most often affected by environmental abuses may be the least able to bring about effective action to correct or prevent them.





  1. Handout

  2. Pencils

Room Preparation

Arrange class into small groups of three to five.

Safety Precautions


Procedures and Activity


Briefly set the tone for the activity by asking and discussing these questions:

  1. What kinds of environmental problems are we facing in our community?
  2. Who is affected by these problems?
  3. Who is coming up with solutions to the problems?

Often, the very people who are directly impacted by local environmental problems and solutions—the community—have little input. Today, we will break into small groups and try to see how different members of a community might view and respond to a community environmental problem.


  1. Class breaks into small groups of three to five. Each group identifies a "recorder" to write down information for the group.

  2. Share that each group is to pick a community environmental issue on the hand out-or they may pick another issue and write it on the "other" line.

  3. On the back of the hand out are examples of different community members. Groups are to discuss and record how they think various community members would respond to the problem and how they might contribute to solving the problem.

  4. Groups discuss and record ideas.


Bring class back together and let each group summarize the problem they addressed and how three to five different community members might contribute to solutions. Ask questions like:

  1. Why might community leaders avoid involving people from the community in understanding and dealing with local environmental problems?

  2. In your opinion, why should or shouldn't community people be involved in local environmental problems?

  3. What skills and roles are necessary for community teams to work well on environmental or other issues?

  4. How can more people in your community get involved in dealing with and solving local environmental problems?

Extension Ideas

  1. Class might choose a local environmental problem and meet with those who are dealing with it. Students can interview people involved to understand and clarify the problem, to learn about options and solutions, and to define impacts on different community members. Students might offer support to garner community input,to meet with community people, or to promote students and the community to be aware of an issue.

  2. Class or individual students might join a community team dealing with a local environmental issue.

  3. Class or individual students might interview and write articles about community environmental issues for school, township or local papers, sharing how different members of the community view or are impacted by the issue or problem.

Careers Related to Lesson Topic

Notes and Suggestions

Prerequisite Vocabulary

Community problem solving
Process where all community members or stakeholders participate to define problems, identify resources and solutions, and participate in strategies and evaluations.

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