Leveraging Higher-Education Instructors in the Climate Litera ...

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  • Title: Leveraging Higher-Education Instructors in the Climate Literacy Effort: Factors Related to University Faculty’s Propensity to Teach Climate Change
  • Author(s): Abby Beck
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • Keywords: Teaching Climate Change, Barriers to Instruction, Professor Attitudes
  • Volume: 4
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2013
  • ISSN: 1835-7156 (Print)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-7156/CGP/v04i04/37181
  • Citation: Beck, Abby, Gale M. Sinatra, and Doug Lombardi. 2013. "Leveraging Higher-Education Instructors in the Climate Literacy Effort: Factors Related to University Faculty’s Propensity to Teach Climate Change." The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses 4 (4): 1-17. doi:10.18848/1835-7156/CGP/v04i04/37181.
  • Extent: 17 pages

Abstract

In this study, we explored the relationship between university teaching faculty’s knowledge, concern and feelings of responsibility toward climate change and their propensity to address this topic in their classroom curriculum. We sent surveys containing 30 questions to approximately 3,150 faculty at two state research universities in the southwest United States. We addressed three research questions: Do university teaching faculty and students differ in their knowledge of, concern about, and personal responsibility regarding climate change and what are the differences between teaching faculty’s predictions of students’ perceived knowledge and concern about climate change and students’ actual perceived knowledge and concern? Second, do perceived knowledge, concern, personal responsibility, responsibility to teach about climate change, and comfort with teaching about climate change relate to the degree in which faculty address climate change in their classrooms? Finally, how does faculty rank and discipline differentiate their perceived knowledge, concern, personal responsibility, responsibility to teach about climate change, comfort with teaching about change? In regards to these three questions, we found that teaching faculty show greater concern and perceived knowledge than their students, though they underestimate their students’ perceived knowledge. Comfort teaching climate change and feeling responsible for teaching climate change were both significant predictors of the degree to which it is currently taught. Professors of the sciences were relatively high in both comfort and responsibility to teach climate change, whereas liberal arts faculty members were less comfortable and felt less responsible to include the topic in their classroom. The study, therefore, reveals opportunities where professional development could be targeted to promote climate literacy.