University Students and Sustainability. Part 1: Attitudes, Perceptions, and Habits

By Kurt Rosentrater and Brianna R. Burke

Increased understanding amongst scientists and the general public about anthropogenic impacts in general, and climate change in particular, behooves us as educators to adjust our courses and curricula. “Sustainability” and “green” topics are increasingly being discussed and incorporated, but this should be done with deliberation. We undertook this study to understand attitudes, perceptions, and habits of the student body at Iowa State University, with a focus on environmental knowledge and behaviors. Overall, we found that, regardless of demographic, students appear to be interested in environmental topics, reducing their footprint, and improving the environment overall. But, they did not necessarily want to pay more, nor did they fully embrace personal responsibility.

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Worldviews, A Mental Construct Hiding the Potential of Human Behaviour: A New Learning Framework to Guide Education for Sustainable Development

By Emilia de la Sienra, Tanzi Smith and Cynthia Mitchell

Abstract: Latest results in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) research and practice show a tendency towards more holistic approaches aiming at deep transformation of the self and the meanings of human existence. Aligned with this, we present the Transdisciplinary Framework of Worldviews and Behaviours (TFWB) to describe the possible formation and expression of a worldview, a complex constellation of meaning and identity from which all human conduct emerges. Four key principles arising from the TFWB are: 1) The whole embodied nervous system is greater than the sum of its separated parts, especially when it comes to intelligence (information processing) and learning (meaning making); 2) The mind is a highly emotion-dependent and mostly unconscious entity; 3) A worldview is a unique arrangement of meaning each person builds, and lives through; and 4) Increasing self-awareness about how a personal worldview is formed and expressed generates increasing opportunities for that individual to explore and build a different meaning for their experience, or to explore and choose different forms to express it (behave). The TFWB informs a new perspective on learning that could be useful for the achievement of ESD’s transformative goals, guiding the innovative design of educational initiatives encouraging new conceptualizations about the meanings of being human; thus, facilitating potential behavioural transformations toward a more sustainable existence.

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