Oliva (centre) attends a community adult learning class near her home in Tanzania. Photo credit: August Lucky


The Common Good

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will: 

  • develop a deep understanding of The Common Good as a principle of Catholic Social Teaching 
  • familiarise themselves with the ways in which Caritas Australia works towards the common good through its work both in Australia and around the world 
  • apply their understanding of The Common Good by creating an action plan of how they will express their heart of concern and service towards the flourishing of others in their local communities. 

This learning sequence has been created using the ‘See, Judge, Act’ model. This reflection–action process was first used by a Belgian Catholic priest, Joseph Cardijn (who later became a Cardinal) with Young Christian Workers prior to the first World War. This approach was also recommended in the 1961 encyclical letter written by Pope John XXIII called Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher). 

Teachers, before you start: 

  • Watch The Common Good film and familiarise yourself with the pause points. 
  • Provide your students with a copy of the Success Criteria. This will help students self-assess their knowledge and understanding of The Common Good throughout the unit. 
  • Explore additional useful readings for teachers, including Pope Francis’ encyclicals Fratelli Tutti (2020) and Laudato Si’ (2015), as well as the DOCAT What to do? (2016). 


Watch (All Years) 

Watch The Common Good film. Pause the film at each of the pause points and ask students to write down or discuss their responses to the questions.

This can be completed as a whole class or set as prior learning before you commence the learning sequence.  

Brainstorm (All Years) 

Ask students to use the knowledge gained from the film to identify words or phrases that link to the concept of the common good. You may wish to use an online brainstorming tool such as Mentimeter, where students can use their own devices to add to the online whiteboard in real time. 

Define (All Years) 

Using the words and phrases, pull together a class definition of the common good and display it in the classroom.

Return to it at the end of the unit and ask students whether they would keep or change their original definition after learning about the CST in more depth.  

Agree, Disagree or Undecided (All Years) 

This activity will challenge the way students think about the concept of the common good. 

Download the Agree, Disagree or Undecided resource. On three different pieces of paper, write down in large text ‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’ and ‘Undecided’ and display them in different areas around the room. Read each of the statements aloud and ask students to decide whether they agree, disagree or are undecided. Have them stand beneath the relevant sign. 

Select one or two that are standing under the ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’ signs and ask them to explain their choice. You may find students naturally engage in discussion with one another. Repeat this for the remaining statements. 

If you do not have enough space around the classroom for movement, simply provide each student with a copy of the resource and ask them to write down their responses underneath each statement.  

The Common Good in Scripture and Church Teaching (All Years) 

Refer students to the film as it highlights Jesus’ message to “have life, and have it to the full.” Ask them to write down what a ‘full’ life means to them. Ask: What do you need in order to live life to the full? How much do you consider others (friends, families, neighbours etc.) in this scenario of a full life? 

Challenge students to consider whether their life is truly full if others around them and in our world lack fullness in their lives. 

Investigate the Texts (Years 7–8) 

Using The Common Good in Scripture and Church Teaching – Lower Secondary resource, students will investigate scripture passages and church document excerpts that underpin the Catholic Social Teaching of The Common Good.  

Mood Board (Years 9–10) 

Students conduct their own research to create a mood board that embodies the meaning and importance of working towards the common good in our world. Students can create their mood board on poster paper, by using Microsoft tools such as PowerPoint or online using CANVA. 

They should populate their mood board with the following: 

  • Scripture and catechism references 
  • Quotes from church leaders 
  • Quotes from encyclicals including Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti 
  • Quotes from saints 
  • Images depicting the common good in various scenarios 

These mood boards can then be hung around the classroom or posted on an online learning platform. Ask students to engage in a ‘gallery walk’ whereby they silently view other students’ mood boards and leave comments on things they found interesting or questions they may have. 


Food Security and The Common Good (Years 7–8) 

Using the Food Security and The Common Good resource, students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of the common good, scripture and church teaching from the previous activities and apply it to the issue of food security in our world.  

Environmental Sustainability and The Common Good (Years 910) 

Refer students to Pope Francis’ quote within the film: “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” (Laudato Si’ n23)  

Pose the following questions to your students. Give them time to reflect, then invite discussion. 

  • What would our environment look like if everyone thought about themselves? 
  • What motivates people to make decisions to care for our environment?  
  • Do you think these motivations are driven by a desire to solely improve one's own life, or are they considering the lives of others? 

Using the Environmental Sustainability and The Common Good resource, students will deepen their understanding of the relationship that exists between making sustainable choices and working towards the common good. 

Simulation Game (All Years) 

In the film, it refers to the need for us to balance our individual rights with our collective responsibility. Students consider this idea as they play The Fish Game, an online simulation game developed by the Cloud Institute. This game will require students to catch as many fish as possible, but also consider that there are other people fishing in the lake who also require fish.  

At the end of the game, you may wish to debrief with the following questions: 

  1. How many of you made it through all 10 rounds? 
  2. Why do you think you were unable to make it through all 10 rounds? (More fish were being taken out of the lake than the amount being put back in at the end of each round; this method is unsustainable.) 
  3. How does this relate to our own world and the use of our resources? (We have a finite number of resources and many who require them; we need to consider ways in which we use resources, so that all can benefit from the goods of the earth. What is best for some to prosper, may not be best for all.) 
  4. How can you apply the principle of The Common Good to this game? 


The Common Good Global Tour (All Years) 

Provide students with this Google Earth activity link. This activity will take students on a tour to see how Caritas Australia works towards achieving the common good with communities around the world. Students will watch case study videos and answer accompanying questions.  

The Common Good – Taking Action (Years 7–8) 

Provide students with a copy of The Common Good – Taking Action resource.  

Students will choose from a range of activities that call for them to take action. They will need to apply their understanding of the common good to what they have learnt about food insecurity in the previous learning activity. It will require them to select from activities that engage different senses. 

The Common Good in My Community (Years 9–10) 

Using The Common Good In My Community resource, students research opportunities in which they can contribute to the common good in their own local communities. 


Prayers of Intercession (All Years)  

Conclude the learning sequence by reading the below prayer as a class. 

You may also invite students to write their own prayers of intercession that relate to The Common Good, using the template below and then taking turns to share them with the class during the prayer session. 

We pray for _____________, that they/we may______________________________________. 

We pray to the Lord, 


Loving God, 

You created us all in your image and likeness,  
with unique gifts and talents that make us part of one human family. 
Let us recognise the needs and injustices in our world,  
as we work towards achieving the common good for all. 
Ignite in us the spirit to tend attentively to people experiencing poverty
and oppression and to our common home.
Help us to listen to the cries of our global brothers and sisters,  
and advocate for equality, freedom, integrity and security for all. 
May we live together in harmony with all of humanity and all of creation.   

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

Prayer adapted from the Pontifical Message of Pope Francis on October 16th 2021