Sustainable Environments

GenEd Science and Technology goal: Recognize, use and appreciate scientific or technological thinking for solving problems that are part of everyday life; retrieve, organize, and analyze data associated with a scientific or technological model

GenEd Program goals: Critical thinking, communication skills, interdisciplinary thinking, scientific and quantitative reasoning

Ecological Footprint

There are a variety of sites online that allow you to calculate your ecological footprint. In order to compare our answers, we all need to use the same one. Go to the following site and take the quiz to calculate your personal footprint. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Be sure to answer the “detailed questions” when taking the quiz. Write down your answers, as well as any questions or comments about the various sections of the quiz on a sheet of paper as you go along, so that you can be ready to compare with others. Also be sure to print out your footprint calculation at the end.

Once you finish the quiz, you are given a variety of options to decrease your footprint. I encourage you to follow one or more scenarios and also record those figures. You should also look at the FAQ section to see why some sectors are very large. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Then analyze your results in relation to the ecoscarcity, market optimist and/or political ecology paradigm(s) (see Lectures 30 and 31), using the following questions as a guide:

  1. What was your overall footprint (i.e. how many worlds) for your original calculation? Did this surprise you? Why or why not?
  2. What was the top economic sector impacting your footprint (i.e. the graph to the right of the world number)? What was the bottom (the least)? From the figures given in these graphs, what do you think are one or two habits/practices of yours that had the greatest impact on your footprint? What aspects can you not change, based on where you live?
  3. Did you follow any scenarios for lessening your footprint? If so, what were they and how much did it decrease? Did this figure surprise you? If you did NOT follow any scenarios, why did you choose not to?
  4. How useful is this tool for motivating individuals to act differently? Could it be more for businesses or other organizations to initiate change? Why?
  5. Why is your footprint so large? What external factors contribute to your footprint, such as resources available to you that you may or may not use (your country of residence matters)? What does your ecological footprint say about your society?


  • Font: Times New Roman, 11 or 12 point font
  • Number of words: 400-600
  • Please structure your essay (introduction, development, conclusion & paragraphs!)

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