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Khan Academy


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Economics

Resource Types

  • Video, 6 minutes, 37 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Interactive Media
  • Assessment

Regional Focus


Tragedy of the Commons

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  • This Khan Academy video uses a simple example of a public fishing pond to illustrate the tragedy of the commons, which allows unprotected areas or resources to become depleted or destroyed by overuse. 
  • The resource includes a video, a transcript, and an interactive quiz. 
Teaching Tips


  • This is a simple example that helps students understand the need for regulations and protections for the things that no one owns but that everyone relies on, like air, water, and nature.
  • They suggest a solution: having some sort of permitting or restrictions established to protect these areas.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It may help to have students make a list of everything they can think of that isn't owned on Earth but could be used by many different people.


  • This video could be connected to topics such as competition, population density, ecosystem limits, and planning for future generations.
  • This video could be used to introduce different concepts of caring for the Earth and for the future, like those of many Indigenous cultures that live within their ecosystem's limits and think many generations ahead when making decisions.
  • Other resources related to this topic include this TED video on intergenerational justice, this article about mining in Venezuela, and this course on globalization.
Scientist Notes
There is nothing in this video that needs to be verified as scientifically accurate. The video clearly explains the concept of the tragedy of the commons. It can be useful in explaining how humans treat our atmosphere and biosphere.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Social Studies
    • World History: Global Studies - Economics, Innovation, and Technology
      • 6.2.12.EconGE.6.a: Evaluate efforts of governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations to address economic imbalances, social inequalities, climate change, health and/or illiteracy.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-3. Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
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