Towards a biocentric attitude in environmental education
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate young people’s environmental attitudes in India. The study had a special focus on the factor of exposure to nature and nature degradation in environmental attitudes formation. Attitudes are of a great importance in education. The investigation was conducted using a qualitative method based on observations and in depth interviews. The subjects were selected from a village in northern India and from Delhi, which is the capital of India. The subjects from the village area were exposed to nature and nature degradation in their daily lives and were expected to have biocentric or eco-centric environmental attitudes (to view humans as part of nature). In addition, Indian traditions and religions were expected to be more preserved in this area compared to Delhi. Hinduism, which is the dominant religion in India, is considered biocentric. In contrast, the subjects from Delhi were not exposed to nature and nature degradation daily and were expected to have anthropocentric or late anthropocentric environmental attitudes (to view humans as separated from nature). Also, these subjects were greatly influenced by industrialization and western influences. Western religions and cultures are considered anthropocentric. The results indicated a difference in environmental attitudes between the subjects in the village area who were exposed to nature and nature degradation and the subjects in Delhi, who were not. The subjects in the village area tended to have a biocentric or eco-centric view on nature and the subjects from Delhi tended to have a late anthropocentric view. This thesis argues for a biocentric view in environmental education and suggests establishing a positive relationship to nature as a part of environmental education, mainly through outdoor environmental education.
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