Background and Context

These resources will help students develop a thorough understanding of Energy & Environment and make connections between historical events, current conversations, and current policy proposals surrounding the issue. This section includes all of the context and content previously included in Close Up’s public policy chapters.  


U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy in Historical Context

How has U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy changed throughout our history? Learn More >

U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy in Current Context

What is the current U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy? Learn More >

Climate Change

Available for Middle & High School

How should the United States work to combat climate change? Learn More >

Current Issue Debates

Current Issue Debates are framed by a central question and followed by historical context, an overview of both sides of the topic, and discussion questions to facilitate deliberation in the classroom.


Climate Resilience

Available for Middle & High School

Should the federal government provide funds for local governments to respond to the effects of climate change? Learn More >

The Green New Deal

Available for Middle & High School

Should legislators prioritize environmental justice when confronting climate change? Learn More >

Nuclear Power

Available for Middle & High School

Should the United States encourage the development of nuclear power? Learn More >

Videos from Policy Makers

Brought to you by ASP HOMEROOM, through a collaboration between Close Up Foundation and A Starting Point, these supplemental videos are an introduction to policy areas that provide an opportunity for students to hear different perspectives directly from lawmakers.


Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Congressmen Sean Casten (D-IL) & Don Bacon (R-NE)
June 9, 2021

The Keystone XL Pipeline

Congressmen Dusty Johnson (R-SD) & Jared Huffman (D-CA)
February 2, 2021


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) & Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC)
May 13, 2021

Lesson Plans

These ready-to-use lesson plans can be utilized in conjunction with any of our resources to enhance the quality of student discourse in the classroom. Our supplemental Civic Readiness Guide provides a recommended lesson plan sequence for using our Current Issues resources.


Additional & Archived Resources on Energy & Environment


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Unit 3: Industrializing America – Artists Render Industrialization and Urbanization

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) | August 19, 2021

Many American historians view the late 19th century in terms of technology and science, identifying the dynamism that helped drive the massive social changes of the period.

Child Workers

Unit 3: Industrializing America – Social Critics and Reformers

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

American history is full of individuals agitating for change. However, between the end of the Civil War and World War I, writers and lecturers poured forth ideas for improving society from a particularly deep well.


Unit 3: Industrializing America – Americans Abroad and WWI

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

In 1880, the sultan of Turkey closed the Turkish diplomatic mission to the United States, believing it to be a waste of money on a second-rate nation.

Jazz Age

Unit 4: Democracy and Adversity – The Jazz Age

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

The 1920s were a golden era. The postwar economy grew and optimism reigned. F. Scott Fitzgerald—a great novelist of the period—captured the mood in his 1937 essay, “Early Success.”

Great Depression

Unit 4: Democracy and Adversity – The Great Depression and the New Deal

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

The stock market crash of October 29, 1929, marked the beginning, though not the cause, of the Great Depression.


Unit 4: Democracy and Adversity – WWII

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

Mired in the Great Depression of the 1930s, U.S. leaders were more concerned with issues at home than with those abroad.

T Bird

Unit 5: The Challenges of Power – Prosperity and Anxiety

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

The 1950s were a time of prosperity and affluence unlike any ever seen in the United States.

Unit 5: The Challenges of Power – Rights and Revolutions

Historical Perspective (ELA Unit) |

The years between 1950 and 1975 were tumultuous times for American society.

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