Research news

Positive environmental values are also developed through egoism

Publish Date: 19.12.2019

Category: Outstanding research achievements, Interdisciplinary research, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 4 Quality education, 11 Sustainable cities and communities, 12 Responsible consumption and production, 13 Climate action (Indicators)

Positive environmental values can be also developed among young people, who are concerned about the environment principally because of their own future. On the other hand, the role of forests for nature and humans is more appreciated by those who spend more time in them and better understand the functioning of forest ecosystems.

 Authors: Gregor Torkar, Urša Krašovec, Franz X. Bogner

In studies conducted by two researchers from the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Education (Gregor Torkar – lead and main author, Urša Krašovec) and a researcher from the University of Bayreuth (Franz X. Bogner), the authors addressed the young people’s attitudes towards ecosystem services, systemic knowledge of ecology, and their environmental values and motives for environmental concern.

 In the first study, the authors Torkar and Krašovec explored how primary and lower secondary school students value and perceive provisioning, regulatory, cultural and supporting ecosystem services of the forest, and what kind of part is played here by systemic knowledge of ecology and direct experience in the forest. The research findings point out that systemic knowledge about ecology is relatively meagre. Systemic understanding of ecology can improve attitudes towards regulating and supporting ecosystem services. Young people who more frequently visit forests give greater value to the regulatory, cultural and support ecosystem services. The findings of the research represent an important starting point for planning the modernisation of curriculums and teaching and learning approaches in science subjects.

 In the second study, the authors Torkar and Bogner studied environmental values and the motives for environmental concern. The results show that an increase in young people’s concern about harmful environmental consequences for them (egoistical motive), for their fellow humans (altruistic motive) or for all living beings (biospheric motive), is in correlation with nature preservation values. The most important new contribution of the research is that young people who have strong egocentric motives for environmental concern can also demonstrate positive environmental values.

 Source: Torkar G., Krašovec U. Studentsʼ attitudes toward forest ecosystem services, knowledge about ecology, and direct experience with forests. Ecosyst. Serv., 37 (2019), 100916.

 Torkar G., Bogner X. F. Environmental values and environmental concern. Environ. Edu. Res. (2019), doi: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1649367

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