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Consumerism to the Nth Degree

Prepare a press release that states a negotiated position on the extent to which we should embrace consumerism.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students represent various regions and communities in North America and negotiate win–win solutions in order to reach consensus on the degree to which we should embrace consumerism. Students then prepare press releases that outline their positions and supporting arguments.

Prepare to negotiate
To prepare students to negotiate a win–win position on the degree to which we should embrace consumerism suggest that people often focus exclusively on their own interests with the intent to win. Indicate that Stephen Covey, who wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has coined the term "think win–win" to describe a mindset that looks for solutions where everyone gains. Write the term win–win on the board and ask students to identify obstacles to thinking win-win. Obstacles could include the following:

  • people focus only on their own interests
  • people do not understand other groups' positions
  • people believe that they necessarily lose something if others gain anything.

You may wish to refer to Negotiating Win–Win Solutions (Modelling the Tools) to structure and assess this activity.

Invite students to form small groups or appoint students to groups. Designate or ask groups to select a region or community in North America. The various perspectives on consumerism should include Francophone and Aboriginal perspectives and the regions could include rural and urban communities from regions such as Alberta, the North,
British Columbia, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic, Prairies, Great Lakes, Pacific,  Florida,
California and New York.

Inform students that they will be working in their groups to try to negotiate a win–win position on the role of consumerism. Explain the phases of the negotiation process.

  1. Develop with other members of the group a proposal for the degree to which consumerism should be embraced.
  2. Form negotiating groups consisting of one representative from each of the regions/communities.
  3. Negotiating groups reach consensus to develop a common position that will be presented to the class.

Within their original region/community groups, students are to discuss ways to respond to this question: To what degree should consumerism be embraced?

Invite each group to record possible positions and the advantages to themselves and to other groups. Remind students that they will individually represent their stakeholder group at a negotiating meeting so they must understand and be able to defend their group's proposals in a convincing and informed way.

You may wish to have students use an initial planning chart as follows:

Initial Planning

Possible positions

Advantages for our group

Advantages for other groups













Develop criteria for an effective proposal
Before students decide on which proposal their group will take to the negotiations, discuss with the class criteria for an effective proposal to guide their deliberations. Criteria may include:

  • the proposals should meet their own groups' interests
  • the proposals' implications for other groups must be clearly understood
  • the proposals must accommodate to some extent other groups' interests.

Ask students to work with their group members to identify how other stakeholder groups might be affected by their proposal. Each student should consider revisions that might make the group's proposal more acceptable to other stakeholder groups. You may wish to have students record responses on a chart as follows:

Impact of Proposals

Positive impact  +                               No impact  0                           Negative impact –



Main opportunities and challenges


Alberta                    +   0   –
the North                +   0   –
British Columbia    +  0    –
Ontario                    +  0   –
Québec                    +  0   –
Atlantic                   +  0   –
Prairies                     +  0   –
Great Lakes             +  0   –
Pacific                     +  0   –
Florida                     +  0   –
California                +  0   –
New York                +  0   –


You may wish to refer to Consumerism and Quality of Life (Critical Challenge) as a source of information about the interests and positions of other regions/communities.

Negotiate a joint statement
Organize students into negotiating groups composed of one representative from each region/community. Explain that each representative will have two minutes to present his or her group's suggestion for a statement on the degree to which consumerism should be embraced and the reasons why the other groups should accept this proposal. Students may ask probing questions, but they are not to debate or disagree with the proposal until all proposals have been presented.

Explain to students that after presenting their proposals, the negotiating groups will work to reach consensus on one statement for the degree to which consumerism should be embraced. Ask students to define what it means to reach consensus (an agreement all can support) noting that it is not a decision made by a majority vote but instead it is one made by all parties reaching an agreement.

Before beginning to negotiate their proposal, remind students of the following criteria for a win–win solution:

  • is feasible
  • promotes everyone's (or almost everyone's) interests
  • is fair to everyone concerned.

Prepare a News Release
Invite each negotiating group to work together to prepare a press release that outlines its position and the supporting arguments regarding the degree to which consumerism should be embraced.

Point out to the students that an effective press release summarizes key information in a powerful but brief manner. Criteria may include:

  • informative
  • concise
  • convincing.

You may wish to refer to Creating a Press Release (Support Material) to structure this activity.

Ask groups to generate ideas and strategies for sharing their press releases.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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