Social Studies | Introduction

Build Something Better: Economic Impacts of Development

Southdale Center


Students will propose an architectural solution (e.g., new building, renovation, plaza, courtyard) for their community. Proposals will consider the impact of new economic development on communities using Southdale Center in Minnesota, the first regional shopping mall, as a case study. This lesson focuses on critical thinking skills, enabling students to understand the consequences, both intended and unintended, of economic development.

Grades: 6-12
Time: 2 class sessions, plus independent student work

Standards & Objectives

This lesson addresses selected standards from the McRel Standards for Economics. These can be found in the section titled “Social Studies Standards.”

Teach This Lesson

Preparation and resources for teaching this lesson are found in the section titled “Social Studies Preparation and Resources.”

Instructions for teaching this lesson are found in the section titled “Social Studies Instruction.”

Interdisciplinary Connections

The PBS television program, 10 Buildings that Changed America, provides lesson plans in four additional subjects: Art, English Language Arts, Science, and Mathematics. All five lessons are combined in an interdisciplinary unit: One Building to Change My Community.

This Social Studies lesson can be paired with another 10 Buildings that Changed America lesson plan to create interdisciplinary connections.

  • Art: The built structure proposed in the Social Studies lesson can become the building designed and modeled in the Art lesson. Students can set their design intentions to be similar to their expected outcome of their Social Studies proposal, and determine their design strategy so that their expected outcome is more realistic.
  • English Language Arts: Students can look into how zoning/financial incentives influenced the Seagram Building. Additionally, students can think about how their own design could be a landmark in their community.