Lesson Plans

Out of Eden Walk Photography Exhibition Project: Introduction

Introducing the Out of Eden Walk Photography Exhibition Project:

How do you document your community? How can a photograph illustrate what concerns you about your community? Or what you love about your community? Why is it important to slow down and be more observant? What do you learn about a place, and ultimately about the world, by slowing down to a walking pace?

In early 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek embarked on a reporting mission to walk the same 21,000-mile path that modern humans took from Africa to South America over the course of roughly 50,000 years. The project is called the Out of Eden walk, and Paul’s goal throughout is to take a slow approach to reporting that allows readers to reflect on how the small things we notice as we walk through the world reveal larger international issues.

Drawing inspiration from Paul’s Out of Eden Walk, you and your class will embark on a journey through your own community. You will explore the work of several photojournalist-grantees from the Pulitzer Center, analyze what makes a good photograph, take loads of pictures of your own community, reflect on how the images you take reflect larger issues in your city and ultimately curate an exhibition of your work.

Work with your teacher to use the following introduction as a guide for framing your project.

Out of Eden Walk Introductory Lesson


By the end of today, you will be able to describe the Out of Eden Walk and begin to reflect on what inspires you/concerns you about your own community in order to identify objects that you could photograph to represent larger issues in your community


1. Make a list of important places in your neighborhood. Compare your list to a classmate’s list.

2. Jot down your responses to the following prompts…

  • My neighborhood looks like…
  • What people don’t know about my community is…
  • Everyone thinks my neighborhood is...but really it’s…
  • A picture can…

3. Be prepared to share your responses with the class.

Introducing the Out of Eden Walk:

Today, you will analyze the role of a journalist and explore the Out of Eden Walk project.

1. Look up the definitions of “journalist” and “journalism”.

2, Write at least five responses to the following: “What is the role of a journalist?”

Meet journalist Paul Salopek and the Out of Eden Walk:

1. Watch the attached "Meet the Journalist" video from Paul and answer the questions attached. Here is a link to the video on YouTube.

2. Read the first National Geographic cover story from the project.

3. Read the milestone description and then read the following milestones, noting how Paul engages all senses to notice a place slowly. Use the descriptions to identify connections Paul makes between what he sees and larger issues in the world. Be prepared to share why you think Paul included each of the following milestones:

Practice a slow approach to journalism:

1. Make a list of as many things as you can find in the classroom that fall into the following categories. (It may help to draw the chart out for yourself on a separate sheet of paper.)

Objects that are circle-shaped

Objects that are rectangle-shaped

Objects that are red

Objects that are blue



2. Compare your list to another student’s list. How many items did you find that your partner didn’t? Note the number of new things you saw by taking a slower approach to looking at the room

3. Rewrite the chart above and try the exercise on one block of your neighborhood. Circle the items that you hadn’t noticed before.

4. Select three items you noticed in your neighborhood and reflect on how each item illustrates a larger concern in your community. Use the Out of Eden Walk milestones as inspiration. Write short milestone descriptions (50-100 words) about each item you chose that illustrates what that item illustrates about your larger community and/or city.

Educator Notes: 

This project outline uses Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk to engage students in reflections and analysis of how a “slow approach” to journalism in their own communities can enlighten larger issues facing their cities. The project involves writing, discussion, multimedia analysis, hands-on photography projects and a culminating photography exhibition.

This lesson acts as an introduction to the Out of Eden Walk and the class photography project. The resources in this lesson can be explored independently or as a class; however, the logistics for the photography exhibition should be designed to meet the timeline the works best for your students. If you have questions about how to set up your photography project, or would like support in promoting the exhibition, email education@pulitzercenter.org.


Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

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