HOW COLLEGE STUDENTS’ EGO-TEMPORAL UNDERSTANDINGS RELATE TO SUSTAINABILITY
ARTHURS, Leilani, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 330 Bessey Hall, P.O. Box 880340, Lincoln, NE 68588 and STEVENS, Jeffrey R., Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 317 Burnette Hall, P.O. Box 880340, Lincoln, NE 68588, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Ego-temporal understanding” is a concept that refers to an understanding of one’s self as well as one’s perceptions of time and one’s place in time. This concept has direct implications for how individuals are taught about environmental issues and are stimulated to make decisions that promote longer-term societal and environmental sustainability. Many individual (and collective) decisions that impact the environment involve a time delay between the initial action and the subsequent environmental impact as well as some degree of uncertainty about the extent and duration of those impacts. For example, individual decisions about how much water to use in the present have a variety of short- and long-term consequences from the personal to regional and even international levels. A lack of understanding of the uncertainty behind actual impacts as well as the spatial and temporal scales over which impacts manifest themselves pose challenges in promoting environmental stewardship.
Having an awareness of how students’ knowledge of probability, personal thresholds for risk, and consumptive lifestyle choices may assist educators in facilitating deeper student learning about the socio-temporal aspects of environmental justice and sustainability issues. To better understand students’ numeracy knowledge, preferences for making more or less high-risk decisions, and consumptive lifestyle choices, 38 students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were surveyed as part of this pilot study. In this presentation, the survey findings are discussed. These include, for example, potential correlations between numeracy, risky decision making, and resource consumption. The significance of these findings is increased awareness of college students’ knowledge and behaviors that may impact how responsive they are to learning about sustainability issues and to adopting what they learn in their daily practices.