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Mohammed Aly Sergie, Kevin Lizarazo


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Economics, Civics, History, Geography

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites, 52 pages

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, USA - South, USA - Midwest, USA - Northeast, New Jersey, South and Central America, Africa, Europe, Middle East, Polar Regions

Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy

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  • This historical article spans from 1850 to 2022 and gives readers an in-depth understanding of the many facets of oil dependency and the foreign and domestic policies around oil. 
  • Beginning with the oil rush of 1850, students will learn about the increasing ubiquity of cars, the changing regulations regarding big oil companies, oil shortages and surpluses, the world wars, the Marshall Plan, OPEC, American domestic policy, wars in the Middle East, environmental concerns and disasters, climate change policy, offshore drilling, fracking, pipelines, international agreements, and much more. 
Teaching Tips


  • This timeline will leave students with a well-rounded understanding of the historical events that led to America's dependence on oil.
  • The resource is well organized and broken down in a way that is easy to manage and understand.
  • Many interesting images are included, as well as external links to primary sources and additional information.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with American and world history before working with this resource, specifically after World War I. 


  • Cross-curricular connections could be made in economics and math classes to work with the graphs and data for oil prices and consumption. 
  • This resource lends itself well to a jigsaw activity. Have students work individually or in pairs on a section of entries from the timeline. Their task is to become experts on their section and to distill the information they learned into a few sentences. The class can then present their learning and chart it digitally.
    • As a fun extension, have students use the photo from their section or entry to create a faux social media post to accompany what they wrote. What hashtags, trending music, captions, or accounts would the image work with on their favorite platform?
  • Other related resources include this interactive graph about American's beliefs around climate change, this video about the cost of carbon, and this video about the finite nature of fossil fuels.
Scientist Notes
This resource explains the history of oil exploration, production and energy demand globally with a variable time span from 1850-2021. It is very concise, insightful, factual and recommended for teaching.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading (K-12)
      • R.9-10.3 In literary texts, analyze how complex and/or dynamic characters develop, interact with other characters, advance the plot, or develop a theme. (RL) In informational texts, analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or argument, including the sequence, the introduction and development of ideas, and the connections that exist. (RI)
      • R.11-12.2 Objectively and accurately summarize a complex text to determine two or more themes or central ideas and analyze their development, including how they emerge and are shaped and refined by specific details. (RI&RL)
  • Social Studies
    • History
      • SS.Hist1.b.h Evaluate multiple events from different perspectives using primary and secondary sources and analyze intended and unintended effects from both long- and short-term perspectives. Evaluate how different groups and individuals contributed to the effect.
      • SS.Hist2.c.h Evaluate how the historical context influenced the process or nature of the continuity or change that took place.
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