Measuring the Transformation of University Students’ Self-Construal for Greater Environmental Sustainability

Hikaru Komatsu, Shin Pei Fu, Meng Hui Lin, Yi Huan Hsieh, Jeremy Rappleye, Iveta Silova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

University campus sustainability projects frequently aim to promote ecological behavior of their community members. However, these projects rarely consider the level of students’ self-construal, the view of self held by members of the university community (i.e., whether the self is viewed as independent or interdependent with nature). This runs counter to the findings in psychology that people’s behavior is strongly affected by their self-construal. We thus conducted an exploratory attempt to include self-construal measurements into a campus environmental sustainability project at National Taiwan University. We specifically examined whether the university had contributed to the transformation of students’ self-construal for greater environmental sustainability. Toward this end, we first confirmed that a psychological scale for self-construal, the connectedness to nature scale (CNS) that had been mainly tested in Western contexts, successfully predicted the likelihood of students’ ecological behaviors (e.g., reducing waste) in an East Asian context. We found only a small difference in the CNS between students for different academic years, which suggests that the university was unsuccessful in transforming students’ self-construal for greater sustainability. This finding resonates with the practice of universities in the modern era to emphasize cognitive dimensions of learning rather than ontological dimensions. Our results thus suggest that mainstreaming ontological dimensions would be one potential way for universities to move toward campus sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • data processing and interpretation
  • education
  • environmental psychology
  • higher education
  • sustainability management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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