Changing Places (Year 9)
The Changing Places topic requires students to explain processes and influences that form and transform places and environments (GE5-2) and to assess management strategies for places and environments for their sustainability (GE5-5). The topic requires students to examine urbanisation, the impact of migration and strategies to address change in urban places and how they enhance sustainability.
As a part of examining the causes and consequences of urbanisation, students will have investigated spatial distribution patterns of urbanisation (for example the influence of transport corridors), and the social, economic and environmental consequences of urbanisation (this could include traffic congestion, costs of tolls or costs of constructing new infrastructure, average times people spend commuting to work, the impact of car exhaust on air quality). In examining urban settlement patterns students will specifically address the impact of transportation networks in Australian and another country to explain differences in urban concentrations. While there is scope to deal with a range of issues and influences related to urbanisation and urban settlement, there is certainly an opportunity to develop a unit of work that develops students’ understanding in car dependence, traffic congestion, public transport, road networks, etc. to lead them to be able to examine this issue of the WestConnex development from a range of perspectives and with detailed background knowledge.
In the last part of the Changing Places topic students investigate the management and planning of Australia’s urban future, including Australia’s population projections, implications for growth and sustainability, strategies to create sustainable urban places and ways for individuals and groups to become involved. WestConnex provides a great case study to examine this. Obviously you need to address the points at the national scale, but the WestConnex project impacts on such a large are of Sydney that you might find that many of your students are already engaged with (or at least aware of) the project in some way.
Urban Places/ Urban Dynamics (Year 12)
If you choose to do Sydney as a large city case study for Urban Places the WestConnex project could also tie into the - growth, development, future trends and ecological sustainability dot point.
The risk of covering this as a case study is the difficulty in maintaining an apolitical discussion of the issues. It is important to provide a whole range of perspectives and interpretations to develop problematic knowledge and higher order thinking, but how do you direct the discussions to ensure that the focus of the lesson is on the content and not the politics? Some lesson possibilities:
Population Growth & Transport
As a group, students examine the current population projections for Sydney and consider the effectiveness of current transport infrastructure (include roads, rail, light rail, ferries, etc), taking into account commute times and traffic congestion. Suggest a range of different strategies to address transport issues in Sydney. Discuss with your group the pros and cons of each strategy. Devise a plan that you would put in place if you were Premier. Present your alternate plan to the class (include annotated maps, descriptions justifying your choices, references to economic, social and environmental sustainability of your choices).
West Connex & Sustainability
Examine the WestConnex development from a range of different perspectives. Assess the project for economic, social and environmental sustainability. Include maps showing where the WestConnex project is located and the changes to landuse along the corridor (for example, aquisitions and demolitions, new open spaces). What might you change to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the project?
Individual and community action
Individually, examine the ways that individuals and communities have contributed to the political process and discussions about the WestConnex project. Write a paragraph about 5 actions taken by individuals and communities. Do you think these have been effective? Do you think these actions are justified? What other actions could individuals or communities take?
The NSW Government has put out a range of resources to promote the WestConnex, including an educational package. These provide some basic information
The Inner West Council also has a large number available on their website including meeting minutes, media releases, and an online petition.
ABC: WestConnex environmental impact statement projects less traffic, less pollution once M4 East completed.
UNSW - West Connex – M4 East – Submission by the Healthy Built Environments Program (UNSW)
West Connex Action Group
There have been many protests regarding the WestConnex. Another source of information is the WestConnex Action Group website.
WestConnex Action Group facebook page
Please see my other WestConnex posts:
WestConnex - Protest Movements and Impacts
WestConnex update - Haberfield and Ashfield
WestConnex update - St Peters, Alexandria and Newtown
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
7-10 Geography pages have been retired due to the introduction of the new syllabus. The above links relate to current NSW syllabuses. All Commerce and Legal Studies resources have been moved onto this main site (search Commerce or Legal Studies below).