CLEAN Teleconference Call April 3, 2018

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Provenance: Noun Project
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Provenance: Daniela Pennycook, University of Colorado at Boulder
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Caitlin Kirby: Understanding Climate Change Behaviors Using a Modified Theory of Planned Behavior

Bio: Caitlin K. Kirby is a PhD Candidate at Michigan State University in the Environmental Science and Policy Program. Her work is centered in the Geocognition Research Laboratory under the advisement of Dr. Julie Libarkin. Caitlin studies environmental decision-making, STEM education, and environmental education. Many of her research projects also take place in cross-cultural spaces, such as a project examining the research relationships between Tribes in the United States and climate science organizations. Caitlin plans to continue working in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural spaces to improve how we utilize and teach science, particularly in the environment.

Abstract: Climate change impacts are uncertain, and greenhouse gas emissions are a structural part of individuals' everyday lives, making behaviors to mitigate climate change a particular challenge in promoting human well-being and environmental protection. A large attitude-behavior gap persists in individuals' pro-environmental behaviors. Integrating environmental behavioral theories may produce a model that guides researchers and educators in better understanding environmental attitudes and behaviors. A survey was developed using the Theory of Planned Behavior and Values-Belief-Norms Theory to measure climate change behaviors and their determinants, and was distributed to non-science major undergraduates (n=132). These individuals are likely to become politically active, and unlikely to engage in climate science through their education, thus representing an important group to target in studying climate change behaviors. Students also responded to questions measuring their understanding of the scientific processes of climate change. Structural equation modeling was used to elucidate important determinants of pro-environmental behaviors. Personal norms and subjective norms are particularly strong indicators of pro-environmental behavioral intentions. Knowledge of climate change processes was not related to students' intentions to engage in pro-environmental behaviors. The goal of this work is to provide a theoretical framework for developing a workshop intervention for individuals to engage in behaviors that align with their attitudes and values in relation to climate change.

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