|Published online: June 20, 2014||$US5.00|
The development of human understanding toward their environment has been the focus of many research studies. Because sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing the world population, humans have a definitive role to play to ensure and create a sustainable entity for the future generations (Krasny and Tidball 2009). The promotion of pro-environmental behaviors is vital to achieve environmental sustainability. The complexity surrounding the nature and extent of how the environment is both perceived and defined needs to provide insight to this far-reaching cause. The researcher explored the human-environment interface through the anthropocentric and utilitarian perspectives of first year University students to better understand how they defined their environment; the complexity of the issues necessitates a holistic—or macroscopic—approach. The Environmental Education Evaluation Questionnaire (EEEQ) was designed and employed by the researcher to assess the impact of socio-demographic factors such as age, gender, locality, family income, parental education, social networking, and a basic familiarity with specific environmental keywords. There were 200 respondents to test six hypotheses. The quality of educational materials used was based on interdisciplinary theory and research that bridged the fields of education, psychology, and human development intervention. Results from the study revealed a significant difference in awareness between two respondent categories due to age, sex, locality, family income, and parental education. However, accounting for the effects of the media (i.e. time spent on social networking sites) and the strength of familiarity with certain environmental keywords, the difference was of little impact. Therefore, it was concluded that environmental education awareness is fundamentally goal-driven and requires a conscious trade between diverse and competing needs, interests, and elements to achieve an optimum balance among competing issues, needs, and value systems. The final conclusion was that education toward the sustainable use of resources is the key to unlocking the maximum potential from the environment.
|Keywords:||Environmental Education, Family Income, Locality, Media, Parental Education, Gender, Socio-demographic, Sustainability|
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa