PSYCH 419: Psychology for a Sustainable World

PSYCH 419: Psychology for a Sustainable World


Joshua Marquit

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Time Offered:


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Fall 2024

PSYCH 419 Psychology and a Sustainable World (3) This course examines psychological dimensions of humans' connection to the natural world, causes of human contributions to environmental problems, and psychological approaches for encouraging sustainable behavior. The course draws on the new field of conservation psychology and responds to the University's commitment to becoming a leader in sustainability education. This course is designed for upper-level undergraduate students to satisfy requirements for Psychology degree programs, the Psychology minor, and the Sustainability Leadership minor. Major topics covered include psychological foundations of environmental problems (psychological understanding of unsustainable behavior, psychological perspectives on ethical dimensions of environmental problems, people's place in nature, psychological approaches to promoting sustainable behavior), and the application of psychological principles to specific environmental topics (consumerism and sustainable lifestyles, population overshoot, climate change, land use, water use, energy use, food production and consumption, pollution and waste). Students will be able to apply concepts, theories, and findings to change cognition, motivation, and behavior, with the goal of reducing negative human impacts on the environment. They will be able to write and communicate about their work in the form of a final paper and a class presentation that conform to the standards of psychological research. Assessment methods include weekly journal assignments that document students' application of lecture and reading material to their experiences with nature, their observations about their own negative impacts on the environment, and their actions to reduce negative impacts on the environment. In addition, students will develop a conservation intervention program that targets a specific problem on campus or in a community, for which students review relevant literature, design an intervention program, give a presentation of the program, and submit a final paper on the program.


Social Sciences