Up for discussion

28th February 2003 at 00:00
Sustainable development and human rights often go hand in hand. John Widdowson looks at books covering issues in geography and citizenship

21st Century Debates series Climate Change By Simon Scoones

Endangered Species By Malcolm Penny

Food Supply By Rob Bowden

Rainforests By Ewan McLeish

Water Supply By Rob Bowden

Hodder Wayland pound;12.99 each

The title of this series, 21st Century Debates, is misleading.

First, many of the issues have been well covered in similar books produced during the past 20 years. Of the titles here, Climate Change and Water Supply come closest to what this series claims to be. Second, there is little debate. The global environment is under threat and we are going to have to do something about it.

These books are well-presented, with a balance of informative text and colourful photographs. They look at the impact human development is having on the planet and how this could affect our future. Most pages feature alternative viewpoints (presumably to keep the debate alive), but these lack impact and the language is often difficult. They will require quite a bit of unravelling for the average secondary school student and are more likely to be ignored. Readers are asked to consider what we as individuals can do to help. More suggestions towards the end of each book - done best in Rainforests - would have been useful. This may be an opportunity lost.

Sustainable Human Development - a Young People's introduction A project of Peace Child International Published by Evans pound;8.99 Sustainable Human Development is a project based on the United Nations Human Development Rep-orts over the past 10 years. It has been written by an international team of young people, selecting information from the reports and presenting it in their own words.

One of the projects' greatest strengths lies in its personal stories about human development problems and progress in local communities around the world. Graphs, photos, paintings, charts and even poems all help to illustrate the material. The project attempts to combine these sources with the features of a more traditional textbook - double-page spreads with explanatory text and activities.

Unfortunately, this does not quite work. The activities don't always make best use of some stimulating sources. However, creative teachers would be able to adapt them in their own way for the classroom.

Although it is aimed at key stages 2-3 many of the ideas would be better suited to KS4. The most up-to-date figures from the latest Human Development Report are listed in indicator tables at the end of the book.

At just pound;8.99, this publication would be a useful resource where geography andor citizenship is taught.

John Widdowson writes textbooks for geography and citizenship

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