30 SES 11 B, Attitudes and mindsets in ESE
Research has shown that hope is connected to pro-environmental behavior and plays an important role in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). At the same time, research in the field of Positive Psychology points at strong connections to physical and psychological health. To operationalize hope and optimism, 2.564 young people and 525 teachers from Germany have been asked about the probability and desirability of six predefined future scenarios via an online survey. Only every fourth respondent is optimistic regarding the global future. The biggest discrepancy between expectation and desirability exists concerning climate change. Latent Class Analysis revealed four classes, whereby 15% of the participants are digitalization affine, 35% are indifferent towards sustainable futures and 50% are “sustainability-affine but disillusioned”. This half of the sample has great potential to promote a sustainable future: For them, a positive socio-ecological future has by far the highest value. They report the strongest emotions regarding sustainable development (SD) and want to take the most responsibility for SD. Surprisingly, they don’t report more sustainable behavior in comparison to the other classes. The low expectation of positive socio-ecological developments might be a central factor in preventing half of the sample from behaving more sustainable and indicating a strong potential for hope. Implications for ESD are discussed. Further in-depth results will be presented concerning the attitudes towards ESD and ESD-implementation comparing the 4 groups extracted through the latent class analysis. These analyses encompass both groups – young people as well as teachers.
The present survey is part of the national ESD monitoring in Germany in the context of the ESD Global Action Programme (GAP). The online survey was conducted between March and April of 2018, it encompassed 2.564 young people between 14-24 years old (M = 19,7 years; SD = 2,6 years) and 525 teachers (M = 42,92 years; SD = 12,69 years). Given the federal structure of the German educational system, at least 80 young people from every federal state are represented in the sample. While a representativeness regarding gender couldn’t be assured in this group (74,7% of the young people are female, 24,8% male, 0,5% “others”), the sample of teachers is representative in terms of gender (63% female, 36,8% male, 0,2% “other”. Besides the assessment of future scenarios, data on e.g. sustainability related knowledge, attitudes, behavior and emotions as well as ESD-Implementation has been collected. Two main instruments (future scenarios and ESD implementation) are described in detail here: Six Future scenarios were given whereby the participants were asked to rate every scenario concerning its probability and desirability on a slider scale of 1 to 10 (1 = extreme unlikely / not at all desirable – 10 = extreme likely / highly desirable). The future scenarios were formulated around the topics of climate change, digitalization, and social inequality, with one positive and one negative scenario for each thematic field. E.g. the positive climate change scenario: “All parts of society became aware of the importance of climate change and curbing it has been made the top priority. By that, the Earth System could be kept stable”. ESD implementation was measured with a scale operationalizing ESD on two dimensions: holistic approach to content and pluralistic approach to teaching (Boeve-de Pauw et al. 2015). In addition to the original scale, participants were additionally asked about the desired ESD implementation.
As mentioned in the abstract, the respondents are in general rather pessimistic and show a lack of hope about the global future in 50 years time: The results showed a stark discrepancy between expected and desired futures while the highest discrepancy refers to how humanity deals with climate change. Another central finding are the group differences distinguishing the for latent classes in terms of the emotions regarding sustainable development, agency (taking responsibility for SD), sustainable behavior and personal hurdles towards that behavior, the perceived threat to the climate system and biodiversity as well as desired ESD-implementation. Theoretical as well as didactical and practical implications of the pivotal role of hope for ESD are presented. Here, the role of collective and individual agency as the potential to shape the future become a key ingredient for an effective and hope-fostering ESD.
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