Lesson Plans

Searching for Sacred Mountain: Religion and Environment in China

This lesson is written as a series of notes for the facilitator.

Educator Notes: 

Lesson length: 50 minutes.


Allow students to explore the interplay between China’s politics, environmentalism and Tibetan Buddhism.

Lesson Materials:

Searching for Sacred Mountain video

BBC article discussing the history and more current situation between Tibet and China

Images of pollution in China via Google Image search

The Buddhist Eight-Fold Path

Prior to the Class Period:

Have students read the BBC article. This will give them a brief background of why Tibet and China are disagreeing over territory and cultural rights. Students do not need to answer questions for homework but let them know that they will be responsible for discussing its content when they arrive to the next class.

Introducing the Lesson:

In small groups, have students share their understanding of the article. After a few minutes ask to hear from a few groups to ensure they understand the background of Tibet and China’s history. The idea of religion and culture should come up as well as what the Chinese believe they are providing Tibet.

After the discussion project the following images and explain that these came from a simple Google search “Chinese Pollution.”

What do the students think as they see these images? Let them discuss with each other.

Next share copies of the 8 Fold Path with each group. Ask students to read through the 8 Fold Path. Ask students if they can see what someone following the 8 Fold Path might say about the images of Chinese pollution. Have a discussion on being aware, ethical, non-exploitative.

Video: Searching for Sacred Mountain  (20 min)

Introduce students to the idea of watching the film. Explain that it is about how Tibetan Buddhism is being looked to by the Chinese in relation to the environment. Explain the concept of atheism so that students understand the official Chinese policy on religion.

Ask students to think of the three questions in the questions section of this lesson plan as they view.

View the film (linked in the resources section of this lesson).

After viewing the film ask the students to share their ideas with their group. Have them record their thoughts to the three questions. After time is allotted for discussion, ask students to report out.


Ask students to pick a question that was raised by the class but not answered and have them seek out the answer as homework. This can be an informal exercise. Students could bring in an article, bullet points of an answer or a written paragraph. They could also find information related to the topic that brings up more questions for them.

Lesson Builder Survey