Ways of Thinking of the Environment and Environmental Problems Among Greek University Students from the Humanities

Dr Maria Daskolia,
Prof Evgenia Flogaitis,
Dr Georgia Liarakou
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In recent decades a growing number of studies in environmental education focuses on the investigation of student teachers’ ways of thinking about issues of the socio-environmental reality. The twofold identity of this particular population (students and prospective teachers at the same time) presents a great theoretical and practical interest as their conceptions reflect inherent ideologies and hidden values which are then echoed in their teaching practice. This is particularly true in the case of environmental education, an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field, whose school practice asks for the cooperation of teachers from the physical sciences, the social studies and the humanities.

A sample of 116 Greek students from the Humanities sector (Departments of Greek Philology, History and Archaeology, and Philosophy, Psychology and Education) of the University of Athens took part in the study. Our aim was to investigate (a) the degree to which students from the humanities consider the environment as a prominent contemporary social issue, (b) how much aware they are of the occurrence and seriousness of various environmental problems, and (c) the kind of criteria they employ in their ways of thinking of the ‘environment’ and ‘environmental problems’. The collection of data was accomplished via a written questionnaire, consisting of both open and closed-ended questions.

According to the results of the study, almost half of the participants referred to the ‘environment’ when asked to designate social issues which contemporary societies are concerned with. Nevertheless, the ‘environment’ issue scored much lower compared to other issues such as war, hunger, poverty and unemployment, when students were asked to rate them. Among the environmental problems, which students readily mentioned, were water and air pollution, deforestation, the ozone hole, biodiversity and the greenhouse effect. The nuclear power, the atmospheric pollution and the ozone hole were rated as the most serious ones, while students reckoned a major degree of personal responsibility in the instigation of the atmospheric pollution. Finally, the majority of the participants employed single criteria when asked to categorize the identified environmental problems. Students produced categories of environmental problems mainly in terms of: (a) the different elements of the biophysical environment that are harmed, (b) different types of problems, (c) a cause-effect relationship among the problems.

Keywords: Conceptions, Ways of Thinking, Environment, Environmental Problems, University Students, Humanities, Environmental Education
Stream: Teaching and Learning, Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Ways of Thinking of the Environment and Environmental Problems Among Greek University Students from the Humanities

Dr Maria Daskolia

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Dr Maria Daskolia teaches graduate and postgraduate courses in environmental education in the Department of Philosophy, Education and Psychology at the University of Athens. She holds a masters degree in environmental psychology from the University of Surrey, UK, and a doctorate in environmental education from the University of Athens, Greece. Her current research interests are in the area of teachers' professional development in environmental education, the design and evaluation of teachers' preservice and inservice trainig, informal and nonformal environmental education, and children's and adults' conceptualisations of the environment and environmental problems.

Prof Evgenia Flogaitis

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Dr Georgia Liarakou

University of the Aegean

Ref: H06P0548