08 SES 11 A, Democracy and Participation in an ESD perspective
Parallel Paper Session
This paper takes as its starting point three aspects, and challenges, that are common for both health education and education for sustainable development: (1) They both concern dealing with information that could be perceived as anxiety provoking. When it comes to health and sustainability, educators inevitable will touch upon threats toward the well-being of the people involved in the educational setting. Education for sustainability also deals with threats toward future generations, animals, and/or people living in geographical distance places. Thus, both are related to existential issues (Ojala, 2005; Reid & Hendry, 2001). (2) They both concern people’s everyday lifestyles, where it is quite obvious that it is easier said than done to live in “healthy” and “sustainable” ways. People in today’s western societies are often overwhelmed with complex, mixed and uncertain information about how to live when it comes to both health and the environment. Thus, studies have shown that many people feel ambivalent concerning these issues (Ojala, 2008; Sparks et al., 2001). (3) Furthermore, the benefits of living in a “correct way” will not be visible immediately, while inconveniences are direct and quite common. Thus, to live in healthy and sustainable ways are, not seldom, connected with feelings of annoyance (see Dawes, 1980 on social dilemmas; Fisher et al., 2007). To summarize, both health education and education for sustainable development can evoke negative emotions. Therefore, it is argued that if educators would like to promote learning and action competence in these areas it is vital to have an insight in how people cope with negative emotions. This way of taking account of negative emotions and coping are already to a certain degree acknowledged in health education (see for instance Fisher et al., 2007; Reid & Hendry, 2001). However, this approach is less common when it comes to empirical research about education for sustainable development, although researchers at a theoretical level argue that emotional aspects are vital (Bruun Jensen, & Schnack, 1997; Persson, Lundegård, & Wickman, 2011). Hence, the aim of this study was twofold: (1) To empirically explore how Swedish young people – in late childhood/early adolescence, mid to late adolescence, and early adulthood – cope with worry and promote hope in relation to one of the worst threats towards the well-being of both people and nature/animals, namely global climate change. (2) To theoretically discuss the implications of the empirical results for educational practice. The theoretical framework of the paper consists of the well-known transactional theory of coping, that differs between problem-focused and emotion-focused coping, (Folkman & Lazarus,1984) as well as newer theories about the importance of meaning-focused coping, positive emotions (Folkman, 2008) and pro-active coping (Greenglass, 2002) for dealing with potential stressors.
Bruun Jensen, B., & Schnack, K. (1997): The Action Competence Approach in Environmental Education, Environmental Education Research, 3(2), 163-178. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Dawes, R. M. (1980). Social Dilemmas. Annual Review of Psychology, 31, 169-193. Englund, T., Öhman, J., & Östman, L. (2008). Deliberative Communication for Sustainability? : A Habermas-Inspired Pluralistic Approach. In Stephen Gough & Andrew Stables (eds.), Sustainability and Security Within Liberal Societies: Learning to Live with the Future. Routledge. Fisher, E.B. et al. (2007). Healthy Coping, Negative Emotions, and Diabetes Management: A Systematic Review and Appraisal. The Diabetes Educator, 33,1080-1103. Folkman, S. (2008). The case for positive emotions in the stress process. Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal, 21 (1), 3-14. Greenglass, E. R (2002). Proactive coping and quality of life management. In E.Frydenberg (Ed.), Beyond coping: meeting goals, visions, and challenges (pp.39-62). New York: Oxford University Press. Lazarus, R.S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company. Ojala, M. (2005). Adolescents´ worries about environmental risks: Subjective well-being, values, and existential dimensions. Journal of Youth Studies, 8(3), 331-347. Ojala, M. (2008). Recycling and ambivalence: Quantitative and qualitative analyses of household recycling among young adults. Environment and Behavior, 40(6), 777–797. Persson, L., Lundegård, I., & Wickman, P-O. (2011). Worry becomes hope in education for sustainable development. An action research study at secondary school. Utbildning & Demokrati, 20(1), 123–144. Reid, M., & Hendry, L. (2001). Illness anxiety and somatic health concerns of northern rural Scottish young people: Implications for health care providers and educators. Health Education Journal, 60(1), 147-163. Sparks, P. et al.. (2001). Ambivalence about health-related behaviours: An exploration in the domain of food choice. British Journal of Health Psychology, 6, 53-68.
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