Utopia, Part 3

PBS Premiere: Aug. 18, 2009Check the broadcast schedule »

The World's Largest Shopping Mall: Lesson Plan

Download the Lesson Plan

FILM: This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film Utopia, Part 3: The World's Largest Shopping Mall, part of the POV Shorts Program.

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Watch Utopia, Part 3: The World's Largest Shopping Mall online.


By the end of this activity, students will:

  • Analyze the value that market analysis brings to a business plan.
  • Develop recommendations for how a business should address its financial troubles.

SUBJECTS: Current events, economics, social studies


LENGTH OF FILM: Approximately 13 minutes


  • Review the basic elements of a business plan (a good guide can be found at www.entrepreneur.com), paying particular attention to the role that market analysis plays in informing business decisions. Then, watch the film. Focus student viewing and ask students to take notes on the business decisions that have been made for the South China Mall, such as the selection of its location and the decision to continue investment in the mall. What is motivating these business decisions?
  • Then read the article "Many Savers, Few Spenders Leave South China Mall Almost Empty." According to the article, what factors have contributed to the financial troubles of the South China Mall? How do students think these issues could have been avoided? How does understanding the customer contribute to business success?
  • Conclude the activity by asking students to work in pairs or small groups to develop recommendations for the owners of the South China Mall. Ask students to share their suggestions with the class and ask for constructive feedback.


Time: Aspirational Hazard
This magazine article describes the "ghost mall" shopping mall trend in China and explains that more malls are planned for the future, despite major vacancies in existing properties. (July 12, 2007)

Bloomberg News: Many Savers, Few Spenders Leave South China Mall Almost Empty
This article describes factors that have contributed to the South China Mall's financial troubles. (April 17, 2007)

The Wall Street Journal: Recession Turns Malls Into Ghost Towns
This article explains the effect of the recession on malls in the United States. (May 22, 2009)

South China Mall
The South China Mall's official website offers additional information about the property.

These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Business Education

Standard 16: Knows characteristics and features of viable business opportunities.

Standard 46: Understands characteristics of a market and strategies used to deal with a diversified marketplace.

Language Arts

Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.

Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.