Who, What, Where, When, and Why

9, 10, 11, 12

To identify and compare the roles of governments, economic systems, and the nonprofit sector in meeting the needs of people around the world.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define and explain the economic concepts of market system, command economy and mixed economy.
  • differentiate between needs and wants.
  • compare and contrast various governmental and economic systems.
  • Background Information (Attachment One)
  • Sample Working Chart (Attachment Two)
  • Separate cards with the names of governmental systems, economic systems, and definitions of each system (These should match the countries that the students will be researching.)
  • Blank cards for student-generated definitions
  • Colored markers
  • Background information on the countries being researched (either textbook or Web site based; see Unit Overview Notes.)

Britannica.com Inc. http://www.Britannica.com (11 April, 2001).


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to write down the name of a foreign country, then do a free-write on everything they know or associate with that country. Remind them to include both positive and negative associations. Call on students to share what they have written.

  2. Distribute cards so that each member of the class has a card with either the name of a governmental system, an economic system, or a definition of one of the systems. Ask students to go around the room matching systems with definitions, then form groups from the matched sets. When the cards are all matched up, go over the terms and their definitions. You may want to distribute Background Information (see Attachment One) to clarify terms and explain how many countries have governmental or economic systems that no longer fit easily into one category. Have students read their definitions of the types of economic and governmental systems. Ask for volunteers to describe in their own words what the terms mean, and pass out blank cards for groups to add their own definitions to the "official" ones. Using colored markers, direct groups to color code their system name, their own definitions, and the "official" definitions. Have groups hang their color-coded cards on the bulletin board or the wall to create a reference display. Have a volunteer write the student generated definitions on the board. The teacher should direct discussion toward comparing/contrasting the economic and government systems. Ask students for examples of real countries having each of the systems.

  3. Pass out the Sample Working Chart to students (see Attachment Two). Project the chart for student reference. Have students research the "government systems" and "economic systems" for each country on the chart and list them. (Note: If you wish, substitute other countries which are more relevant to your discussion in the chart. Instead of having the entire class locate the information for each country, you may divide the class into small teams and make each team responsible for a specific country.)

  4. On the board write the following definitions:

  5. need: something desirable, useful, or necessary that is lacking

  6. nonprofit: an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company.

  7. Ask the class to clarify between "wants" and "basic needs" (food, clean water, safe shelter, family). Discuss what a nonprofit company or agency is and solicit examples from the class. Describe how they are different from for-profit companies. Add these terms and definitions to the card displays.

  8. Refer to the countries on Sample Working Chart (see Attachment Two). Distribute reference materials to each group related to their country for study. (If Internet access is available, let students research their topic.) Using information provided, ask groups to brainstorm a list of the needs of people living in their country. List these items under Citizens Needs on the chart. Each group should decide if these are basic needs or are needs specific to that country. Discuss. The teacher should guide discussion to clarify why some nations with the same economic and governmental systems have different needs. Draw attention to the fact that not all citizens' needs are met by governments or businesses in any of the listed countries. This the area wherein nonprofits fit. (Note: The following columns should be finished at the end of this lesson: Economic System, Governing System, Citizen Needs.)

  9. Close by asking students, from looking at the charts, which countries would probably depend most on the government and which would depend on the nonprofit sector to meet the unique needs of its people. Describe and give examples of how the kind of economic system in place affects the function of an independent sector (nonprofits). Guide this discussion around the completed sections of the chart, while giving a preview of future learning. This discussion should help to clarify any misconceptions concerning economic and governmental systems, and needs specific to various countries. When discussing specific needs, the teacher may need to remind students about events happening in other parts of the world, and human reactions and adaptations to different environments.


Teacher may observe student progress on charts, and ask for oral responses concerning information on needs and who responds to meet those needs.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Analyze the function and role of the civil society sector in economic systems using basic economic principles.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Describe and give examples of how the kind of economic system in place affects the function of a civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.