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ERIC Number: ED535245
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 308
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-2703-2
Environmental Sustainability as a Generative Concern: An Exploratory Study of the Narrative Identities of Leaders in the Environmental Sustainability Movement
Chan, Tiffany Simons
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Northwestern University
Environmental sustainability is one of the most pressing concerns of the twenty-first century, and working toward sustainability will require broad lifestyle and cultural shifts, particularly in industrialized societies. Yet despite a growing recognition of the importance of issues such as climate change, food security, transportation, and preservation of biodiversity, unsustainable lifestyle patterns have typically persisted. My work builds upon research that explores the factors that lead to individual commitment to environmentally sustainable behavior. My work is guided by three central theoretical frames that to date have not been employed together in research in this field. First, I focus on exemplars in the sustainability movement. I conducted interviews with twenty-two leaders in sustainability domains. Second, I focus on the construct of narrative identity as a window into my participant's commitment. I designed and employed a modified version of McAdams' (McAdams, 1995) life narrative interview so as to explore my participants' commitment as captured and expressed in their narrative identities. Third, I consider commitment to environmental sustainability as a generative concern. Highly generative adults tend to tell a prototypical story called The Redemptive Self (McAdams, 2006) and I used this story script as a framework that guided preliminary analysis of my participants' narratives. I employed a grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) in order to generate theory that is rooted in my participants' narratives. I constructed a model that captures patterns related to individual characteristics, external influences, and meaningful experiences that emerge across the narratives. In this dissertation I offer a descriptive account of the narrative identities of individuals who are committed leaders in the environmental sustainability domain. Through the use of case studies and thematic analysis I elaborate on four central themes that comprise the prototypical narrative told by my participants--Becoming Connected, Making a Difference, Navigating the Social World, and Sustaining Long Term Commitment. I discuss ways in which my participants' narratives are similar to and different from The Redemptive Self narrative. I conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for the design of learning environments to support commitment to sustainability issues. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A