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Controversial issues in an environmental science course: how do students respond?

Controversial issues in an environmental science course: how do students respond? This qualitative study described non-science majors’ responses to environmental case studies and news events embedded in an introductory level environmental science course. A phenomenological approach was used for this descriptive emergent design study. Sixty-six participants were enrolled in a 12-week course, structured to reflect science education reform principals, at a liberal arts college. Examples of environmental issues included the CHEERS pesticide study on children; use of depleted uranium in military conflicts; a homeowner’s plastic lawn; and local cases of environmental racism. According to the emergent model, a controversial issue must have an element of injustice to affect a student’s moral code or value system, thus, provoking feelings of cognitive dissonance. An environmental issue may be deemed controversial if the injustice exhibits elements of inequality, absence of freedom, or intentional affliction or abuse. To reduce the dissonance, some students sought participation in environmentally-friendly practices beyond the classroom. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Interdisciplinary Environmental Review Inderscience Publishers

Controversial issues in an environmental science course: how do students respond?

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Publisher
Inderscience Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © Inderscience Enterprises Ltd. All rights reserved
ISSN
1521-0227
eISSN
2042-6992
DOI
10.1504/IER.2011.041818
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This qualitative study described non-science majors’ responses to environmental case studies and news events embedded in an introductory level environmental science course. A phenomenological approach was used for this descriptive emergent design study. Sixty-six participants were enrolled in a 12-week course, structured to reflect science education reform principals, at a liberal arts college. Examples of environmental issues included the CHEERS pesticide study on children; use of depleted uranium in military conflicts; a homeowner’s plastic lawn; and local cases of environmental racism. According to the emergent model, a controversial issue must have an element of injustice to affect a student’s moral code or value system, thus, provoking feelings of cognitive dissonance. An environmental issue may be deemed controversial if the injustice exhibits elements of inequality, absence of freedom, or intentional affliction or abuse. To reduce the dissonance, some students sought participation in environmentally-friendly practices beyond the classroom.

Journal

Interdisciplinary Environmental ReviewInderscience Publishers

Published: Jan 1, 2011

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