Climate change and morality: Students' perspectives on the individual and society

  • Sternäng L
  • Lundholm C
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Abstract

There is a growing interest in addressing moral aspects in the research and education of socio- scientific issues. This paper investigates students’ interpretations of climate change from a moral perspective. The students were 14 years old, studying at Green Schools in the Beijing area, China. The study was based on semi-structured group interviews and the data were analysed from an intentional perspective, which means that both cognitive and situational aspects were taken into consideration in the analysis. Previous research has revealed a close relation between morality and socio-scientific issues and also advocated the need for addressing ethical aspects in science educa- tion. However, empirical studies exploring the question of what students’ moral reasoning might look like at the individual level have not yet generated enough attention. In this study this is the core focus of interest. The findings show that the students conceptualise the solutions to mitigat- ing climate change in relation to two different stances. That is, they contextualise the problems and solutions by addressing the individual, where the individual is either ‘myself’ or ‘someone else’. The different notions of the individual become crucial as the students’ views and consider- ations for the environment, as well as society, change according to the different contexts. From a moral point of view, the students seem quite unaware of their varying consideration for others, the environment and society. The paper ends with a discussion of implications for practice and research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate change
  • Environmental education
  • Moral reasoning
  • Scientific literacy
  • Socio-scientific issues

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Authors

  • Li Sternäng

  • Cecilia Lundholm

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