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ERIC Number: EJ1159813
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1467-6370
Low Factual Understanding and High Anxiety about Climate Warming Impedes University Students to Become Sustainability Stewards: An Australian Case Study
Pfautsch, Sebastian; Gray, Tonia
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v18 n7 p1157-1175 2017
Purpose: This study, from Western Sydney University, aims to assess the disposition of students towards climate warming (CW)--a key component of sustainability. CW is a global reality. Any human born after February 1985 has never lived in a world that was not constantly warming, yet little is known about how higher education students perceive their future in a warming world. Design/methodology/approach: An online survey, split into three parts, was used to deliver benchmark data on (I) personal information, (II) factual knowledge and (III) sentiments related to CW. Findings: Gender and age of students significantly influenced their perception of CW. While self-rated understanding of CW was generally high, factual knowledge about CW was low. Few students recognized that CW was already under way, and that it was mainly caused by human activity. The most prominent emotions were fear, sadness and anger, foretelling widespread disempowerment and fear for the future. Research limitations/implications: The study was based on a single dataset and survey response was relatively low. However, respondents mirrored the composition of the student community very well. Originality/value: This is the first study revealing large psychological distance to the effects of CW in university students from Australia. Combined with the impression of despondence, the present study suggests that higher education in Australia, and possibly elsewhere, is not providing the prerequisite tools tomorrow's leaders require for meeting societal, environmental and economic challenges caused by CW. Practical ways to erase these blind spots in sustainability literacy are provided, drawing upon established and novel concepts in higher education.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A