Good Fortune

PBS Premiere: July 13, 2010Check the broadcast schedule »

Lesson Plan: Lessons in International Development

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In this lesson, students will watch video clips and read interviews with experts that will help them examine different approaches to international aid and development and begin to identify which approaches are most effective.

The lesson features excerpts from the film Good Fortune, which presents the viewpoints of two Kenyans who resist development projects intended to improve quality of life in their country. For more information on Kenya and the areas featured in the film and an overview of U.S. foreign aid, please see the film's Background page.

Note: This film contains subtitles.

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Students will:

  • Analyze a video case study of a development project in Kenya and evaluate whether it will succeed in improving the living conditions of members of the local community.
  • Compile a list of factors that experts believe are essential to successful international development initiatives.
  • Profile an international development project that demonstrates the success factors identified by the experts studied in class.


SUBJECT AREAS: Geography, World History, Economics, Current Events


  • Internet access and equipment to show the class online video clips (see Video Clips below)
  • Handout:
    Viewing Guide

ESTIMATED TIME NEEDED: One 50-minute class period, plus homework time


Clip 1: "Goals of Dominion Farms" (length 4:50)
The clip begins at 14:26 with the onscreen text, "Calvin Burgess, Dominion Farms CEO." It ends at 19:16 when Graham Vetch of Dominion Farms says, "Hang in there guys, it is all going to be okay."

Clip 2: "We Will Fight It Until the End" (length 9:33)
The clip begins at 28:00 with a woman walking into a field with a machete. It ends at 37:33 when Jackson Omondi says, "We will fight it until the end."

Strides in Development video featuring Nobel Prize-winning author Amartya Sen.

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  1. Tell students that over the past 50 years, the West has sent more than $2 trillion in aid to help alleviate poverty in Africa. Despite this financial assistance, the continent continues to be plagued by poverty and instability. Explain that in this lesson, students will examine different approaches to international aid and development and begin to identify the most effective approaches.
  2. Distribute the Viewing Guide handout and show both video clips from the film Good Fortune. Tell students to respond to the Viewing Guide as they watch.
  3. Ask students to evaluate whether or not Dominion Farms will succeed in improving the living conditions of members of the local community. Ask them to justify their answers in writing.
  4. Divide students into four groups and assign each group a POV interview with an expert in international development. Ask each group to read its interview and summarize the interview's key points. According to the expert, what factors contribute to successful development projects? Tell each group to report its findings to the class and aggregate success factors in a list that everyone can see, using poster board or butcher paper.
  5. Show the class the brief Strides in Development video that features Nobel Prize-winning author Amartya Sen. Discuss which factors Sen believes are essential for effective development efforts and add them to the class list of success factors. Also, how does the approach of FXB International, discussed in this video, compare to the efforts of Dominion Farms in Kenya's Yala Swamp area?
  6. For homework, ask each student to conduct research to identify an international development project that reflects the success factors described by the experts studied in class. Each student should write a paragraph that profiles one specific project and names the success factors it illustrates.


Students can be assessed on:

  • Thoughtful and complete responses on the Viewing Guide handout.
  • Contributions to group work and class discussion.
  • Completing the requirements of the homework assignment.

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    • Review an international development project that addresses poverty issues and demonstrates good stewardship of the land and environment. Watch the Strides in Development video that features Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Discuss the characteristics of the Green Belt Movement that have contributed to its success. Also, what does Maathai believe is the connection between poverty and the environment? Have students brainstorm strategies that both improve the environment and alleviate poverty in their local community.


    • Evaluate the degree to which community development efforts in your area are responding to local needs. Have students identify a local project, find out how and why it got started and determine whether those the project serves have been involved in its planning and implementation. Ask students to write letters to the editor that praise or criticize how receptive the project has been to local input.


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Good Fortune: Background
The POV website provides details on the Yala Swamp area, Dominion Farms, Kenya and other aid efforts.

Map: Development Projects
Find development projects from around the globe that have consequences similar to those depicted in Good Fortune.

Photo Gallery: An Update From Kenya
This series of images shows local community members from the Yala Swamp area and residents of Kibera, the two locations featured in Good Fortune.

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These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Behavioral Studies

Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior.

Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.


Standard 9: Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface.

Standard 10: Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

Standard 13: Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface.

Standard 14: Understands how human actions modify the physical environment.

Language Arts

Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

World History

Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world.

Cari Ladd, M.Ed., is an educational writer with a background in secondary education and media development. Previously, she served as PBS Interactive's director of education, overseeing the development of curricular resources tied to PBS programs, the PBS TeacherSource website (now PBS Teachers) and online teacher professional development services. She has also taught in Maryland and Northern Virginia.