Activity 8-3
Import Substitution



  • To understand the trade-offs of globalization and increased trade
  • To evaluate local self reliance as a substitute for some forms of trade
  • To learn about alternatives to oil based energy


Student Handout: "Going Local ­ Energy Industries" by Michael Shuman

Time One -two class periods


Completion of handout and participation in class discussion


import substitution necessities substitutes intrastate trade interstate trade international trade local economy

Suggested Procedure

1. Have a class discussion:

· Why have imports?

· Why limit imports? (These questions are review if Activity 2 was done)

· How would a city or region that imported less benefit from limiting imports?

· What types of products could be more locally produced? Why? How?


· Where does our electricity (or other forms of energy) come from?

(90% of US energy comes from fossil fuels: oil, coal and natural gas)

· What is the connection to intrastate trade? interstate trade? international trade? (electric generation from fossil fuels, dams, etc. and distribution system)

2. Have students read "Energy Industries" and respond to questions. Then discuss the following:

· How can energy be produced locally?What are the benefits?

·Why is most energy NOT produced locally now? (oil is cheap/gov't. subsidies/oil corporations are powerful)

· What will make local energy production more widespread?

·What besides local energy production could make us less dependent on imported oil? (CONSERVATION)

· In what other areas would self reliance be a good idea? (other "essentials")

·What are local examples of self reliance or import substitution? (farmers' markets, local fairs with local products)

· Does self reliance mean no trade?

Additional Activity As an addition to this activity and after brainstorming areas in which a community could become self reliant economically, have students create a story of a self reliant community in their journals. In the story, they should explain how food, water, shelter, energy, clothing, medical care and any other items from class discussion will be produced locally.



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