ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND MORAL SUSTAINABILITY
ACTIVITY: WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF DESIGN CHOICES
PURPOSE OF THE ACTIVITY
To encourage students to consider the wider environmental,
social/cultural and economic implications of design and technological
SUITABILITY FOR AS AND A2 STUDENTS
It is suitable for both AS and A2, but there is a suggested
progression between them.
WHEN TO USE THE ACTIVITY
It could be used as an introductory activity for a product
study or as a way of introducing students to the concepts
of environmental, social and economic issues for their designing
and making units of work.
IS IT FOR GROUPS OR INDIVIDUALS?
Usually a small group activity, but suitable to help
students ask questions about the sustainability of their own
design and making projects.
SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES CONSIDERED
It is intended to help students differentiate between
social, economic and environmental issues.
It helps with any of the criteria where students are
asked to show an understanding of social, economic and environmental
issues (at AS - F2 and D1; at A2 - F2, D1 and
THE ACTIVITY AND HINTS ON HOW TO USE IT
With AS students:
||Organise your class into groups of pairs or
fours and ask them to choose an artefact or photo from the
selection you ’ve organised (link)
||Within their groups - ask them to consider
the following questions.
First impressions of the product:
|What do you like about the product?
||Would you like to use it or own it?
|What do you think it says about anyone who owns the product?
(e.g. would it suggest
they are trendy or not?)
||A closer look: Hand out “Wider
considerations for D&T” Encourage
students to spend 10-15 minutes considering the
questions in relation
to their chosen product.
||It's unlikely that the students will know all the answers - but
the main purpose is for them to think about the questions
and offer some answers.
||Ask one person from each group to provide feedback about
the product they selected.
Second impressions having thought about values:
||Ask students to think about the product again having considered
the social, economic and environmental questions.
||What are the good and bad points about this product?
||What are the most important issues (a) to
the manufacturer and (b) to the consumer?
A possible variation would be to make product comparisons.
||Encourage the students to look at two or three
similar products e.g. chocolate bars (one fair-trade, one
not), bags (one hand-made, one mass produced), etc.
||Ask them to compare their analysis of the different products,
looking at economic, social and environmental issues.
For A2 students
||Encourage the students to use the blank
brainstorm sheet to generate more specific questions
under the headings of environmental, social and economic
that they could research about one or more products
related to their own coursework projects.
||Encourage the students to think about the questions they
may ask at different stages of the product’s life
- Choice of materials
- End of life
Students may find it useful to refer to ‘Developing
Thinking about Sustainability’ for help in thinking
of environmental, social and economic questions.
The other ideas in this section help students to develop this
This activity is based on ideas incorporated into ‘Questioning
Technology’ in ‘Changing Technology’, published
considerations for D & T
Suggested products related to product design (resistant materials)
•Wind-up radio or torch
•Aluminium drinks can
•Trumpet (or other musical instrument)
•Jewellery made from recycled materials
•Mass-produced plastic jewellery
to food technology
•A ‘Big Mac’
•Pesto sauce for pasta
•Fish or meat sold in modified atmosphere packaging
•Fair-traded tea, coffee or chocolate
•Home-made apple pie (from locally sourced, organically
•A packet of Pringles
•Organic dried fruit or spices from Sri Lanka
to textiles technology
•Fair-traded organic, unbleached T-shirt
•Sweatshop made, non-organic, bleached T-shirt
•Plastic carrier bag
•Hessian or calico bag
•Fleece made from recycled PET bottles
•Sleeping bag with polyester lining
•Woollen or mainly woollen piece of carpet
•Rayon or other viscose garment
to graphic products
•Styrofoam or other EPS used for modelling
•Card made from recycled sources
•Low wattage lighting used for shop displays
•A blister pack (aluminium foil, PVC covering)
•Polypropylene promotional folder
•Stainless steel scalpel
•Point of sale display
•Computer with a CAD package.
to systems and control
•Gas-fired central heating system