INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Keyword: environmental concern

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Research Article
Environmental Attitudes Among Undergraduate Students at a South African University
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(1), e2260, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11330
ABSTRACT: Understanding environmental attitudes (EAs) has been viewed as prerequisite to changing environmental behaviour and is a particularly salient topic in the context of higher educational institutions which play an important role in shaping students’ worldviews. As such, the study aimed to explore EAs of undergraduate students at three different campuses of a South African University (n = 1283) and to examine how these EAs differ in terms of students’ demographic characteristics. A structured questionnaire was used to collect biographical data, and EAs were assessed via the Revised New Ecological Paradigm Scale (NEP) and the Environmental Attitudes Inventory (Short form) (EAI-24). Results indicated that students’ EAs lean more towards utilization, which is an anti-environmental factor, than to the pro-environmental factor of preservation. Furthermore, demographic factors such as gender and ethnicity were significantly, but often a-stereotypically associated with students’ EAs. These results have practical implications for tailoring environmental-based interventions aimed at enhancing pro-environmental attitudes among students. However, the results also raise concerns about the cross-cultural validity and efficacy of some EA-related measuring instruments and environmental organizations, and suggest that a need exists to develop culturally sensitive EA measures, as well as environmental organizations that incorporate a greater focus on social justice and indigenous knowledge systems.