Is knowledge enough? : A qualitative study investigating the knowledge-action gap of environmental science students

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Tema Miljöförändring; Linköpings universitet/Tema Miljöförändring

Abstract: In order to slow down, if not stop, climate change, we all need to contribute to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This knowledge has been with us for a long time, but nevertheless emissions have not decreased, but rather increased. To understand the reason why we don't act in line with what we know, we need to study behaviors. In this paper we focus on behaviors at the individual level. The gap that exists between what we know and what we do has many names where it is studied from different perspectives, and to understand what creates this gap is very complex. There is therefore not just one answer to this question and many different complementary theories and models are needed. The majority of the studies carried out on the subject examine perceptionsof the gap among people without higher education in environmental science, which has contributed to knowledge being, in many cases,seen as one of the main contributing factors to inaction.In our study, we want to contribute with a perspective on the gapin people who already have a higher education in environmental science. We conducted a qualitative study with three focus group interviews with environmental science students at Linköping University. The results show that, despite higher education and knowledge, there are variousindividual, structural and responsibility factors thathinder individuals fromactingenvironmentally friendly. Throughout the analysis the situational aspect comes into play and that knowledge of the complexity of environmental and climate issues can in many cases contribute to inaction.

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