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Exploration of students’ perceptions of sustainable development and sustainability VC’s Conference 30 June 2006 Fumiyo Kagawa Research Assistant Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploration of students’ perceptions of sustainable development and sustainability VC’s Conference 30 June 2006 Fumiyo Kagawa Research Assistant Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploration of students’ perceptions of sustainable development and sustainability VC’s Conference 30 June 2006 Fumiyo Kagawa Research Assistant Centre for Sustainable Futures

2 Aims of the research 1. To explore UoP students’ understanding and perceptions of, and attitudes towards, sustainable development, related concepts and issues 2.To explore students’ concerns with regard to sustainable development, related concepts and issues 3. To explore UoP students’ willingness to commit to and engage in a more sustainable lifestyle.

3 The Survey  Development of a draft on-line web questionnaire form (September and October 2005)  A pilot test and revision of the draft  Implementation of the on-line survey (from 10 October to 15 November 2005)  A final total 1889 responses (an 8% return rate); Without UP Partner Colleges,1869 responses (an 11% return rate)

4 Analytical methods  Closed-category statements - Frequencies and percentages - Cross-tabulations - Chi-square tests - Cohen’s Kappa - Factor Analysis  Open-ended questions - A qualitative method - Frequencies

5 Demographic characteristics of respondents


7 How familiar are you with the terms sustainable development and sustainability?

8 How would you describe your attitude towards sustainability?

9 We, as a society should radically change our way of living to offset the danger of climate change.

10 I avoid buying from a company which shows no concern for the environment.

11 The UK should maintain high and stable levels of economic growth, even if it disregards the environment.

12 The University of Plymouth should only purchase fair trade products where such products exist.

13 The University of Plymouth should strongly support and celebrate cultural, religious and linguistic diversity among students and staff members.

14 The City of Plymouth should ensure socially inclusive public transportation.

15 In your previous formal education have you participated in courses which address sustainability or sustainable development? (n=1590) Yes (48.9%); No ( 51.1%) Previous formal education where participants have addressed sustainability or sustainable development (n= 760) 1. Geography (n=477) 2. Biology (n= 66) 3. Environmental Science (n=58) 4. Economics (n=24) 5. Tourism (n=14) 6. Design (n= 12) 7. Construction (n=11)

16 Past experience in relating to sustainable development outside of school


18 Personal actions for a sustainable life style

19 Dilemmas in life style changes ‘I love cars and motorbikes - well anything that runs on petrol or other highly flammable fuels and would NEVER give up the privilege of owning and enjoying one, two or maybe more if I can afford too. So maybe I'm not so good for the environment after all... But it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.’ ‘As a single parent on a bursary with two special needs children, I am often too stressed and financially inadequate to do as much as I want.’

20 Accessibility of fair trade products ‘[I] can't buy fair trade or organic foods because I can’t afford it and I can't afford a new car which has a catalytic converter. There isn't much I can do to help the problem and I need my job working for Mcdonalds to pay for rent and bills.’

21 Which one of the following most nearly represents your personal view of the future of society? (n=1524)

22 Future of Society: Government Initiatives ‘Future governments will need to implement strong political incentives and regulations quickly to face with global warming and the ongoing environmental devastation. It is only a strong and clear political will that will drive society towards sustainability. Without this, we are headed to potential catastrophe.’ ‘Governments need to play a strong role in regulating industry even more than the private consumer….’

23 Future of Society: Too late! ‘Ecological catastrophe is inevitable. We can't reverse the damage done, it's just too late. We will have to learn to live another way.’ ‘Our culture is going to hell in a hand basket, our governments attempts at curbing the pending disaster seem to centre around waiting for the disaster to occur before actually getting on with doing anything.’

24 Future of society: Keys for positive changes ‘Technological progress will overcome all ecological problems we face and eliminate extreme poverty, IF used correctly.’ ‘Education of all generations, but particularly younger ones, is necessary in overcoming environmental and social problems, prejudice and injustice.’

25 Balancing feelings towards towards conflicting future scenarios ‘It’s too late for many species to escape extinction. I think wars will become more frequent, resulting from competition for resources and space. But it’s not completely hopeless, at least I hope not!’

26 Unfortunately I see very little concern for the environment even in Plymouth…. We must penalise society for the everyday damage it’s causing our environment. However I don't hold out much hope…. Frankly the world would be better off without a single human being existing on this planet. It's too late... we have disrobed everything. All I can do is deal with the day to day challenge and bring it down to a smaller picture and do what I can to salvage what is left. Contribution for my life time is what I can do. That's why I've chosen to study.... to do what I can in my life time.

27 Key findings  Associating concepts of and actions for SD/S with the environment  Strong ‘light green responses’  General support towards SD/S as ‘a good thing’  Respondents’ mixed feelings about future of society

28 Implications for curriculum/pedagogy  Helping students to develop comprehensive/holistic understandings of sustainability (e.g. importance of interdisciplinary work)  Bridging the knowledge and behaviour gaps  Envisioning and actions towards desired futures

29 A students’ message ‘ I believe that it is morally down to institutions such as the University of Plymouth to be the 'frontrunner' in this field. It should strive to set a good example and operate in a sustainable way. With so many students (25 000+) this could make a real difference and hopefully educate those within the institution to be more sustainable. Hopefully then students and staff will take a more sustainable approach into their personal lives and the effects will be multiplied.’

30 For more information 01752-238896 Centre for Sustainable Futures

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