Are you an instructor, and interested in potentially using EcoTypes as part of your course? Please see the FAQ below, and note that you can always ask a specific question here, and/or join our EcoTypes instructor GoogleGroup.
What are the permissions, fees, etc. for using EcoTypes?
You do not require any special permissions from Jim Proctor (EcoTypes PI) for using it in your course, and all use is free of charge.
We request you be in touch with us if you use the survey in instructional settings, so that we can assign your students a group code; this allows us to send you (anonymous) data for your students, and potentially to compare your students with others.
We also appreciate if you would be in touch with us on your experience after using the survey, or other EcoTypes learning materials, in your course, via the question form, or a direct email to Prof. Proctor.
My institution requires human subjects (IRB) clearance.
Since 2017, the EcoTypes initiated has been fully approved by the Lewis & Clark College Institutional Review Board. The IRB code is HSRC #2019-40, approved through Dec 1, 2024.
What are the ways that instructors typically use EcoTypes?
Since 2017, instructors in nearly 100 institutions of higher education in the USA and other countries have used EcoTypes. Many just assign students the EcoTypes survey, but we recommend you prepare your students prior to the survey, and do followup activities after the survey, to derive greater learning value. See the diagram at right for a recommended process.
- Prior to the survey, students can browse the website. We especially recommend that they prepare for their EcoTypes experience via an SDG-based discussion of global priorities.
- The EcoTypes website has some good starter resources we recommend, such as the EcoType FAQ page, covering some initial questions they might have, including the theory and methodology behind EcoTypes; or, a page summarizing axes, themes, and EcoTypes might be helpful.
- One important consideration in EcoTypes is the possibility that many care, just differently. The EcoTypes Global Priorities page explores this possibility in the context of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, including background resources and an SDG Mosaic game!…a good mixer to start your EcoTypes conversation, with suggested prompts for followup discussion. See also this sample comparison of two different communities.
- Students can then take the survey, which takes them about 30 minutes total. Upon completing the anonymous survey, they will immediately receive a customized report, with a entry key they can use to retrieve the report in future. If your students have selected the group code for your course, we can send you their (anonymous) raw data, which you might use to suggest interesting patterns and similarities/differences.
- The EcoTypes reflection form is designed to be completed following the survey, and can be done by students on their own in about one hour. By providing their entry key (or simply clicking on the followup form link, assuming they entered their email on the survey form), the reflection form is customized to each student’s survey responses. It walks them through four steps—axes, themes, EcoTypes, and global priorities—to help them deepen their appreciation of, and consider how to work constructively with, environmental difference.
- Finally, the EcoTypes forum offers your students an opportunity to interact with students from other institutions of higher education, and likely further diversify their discussions. In contrast to all the above, the forum does require login, so a list of student information instructors create from a template is uploaded. If interested in the forum, please be in touch.
Do you have recommendations for the EcoTypes survey?
The EcoTypes survey is the most popular instructional feature of the EcoTypes site. As you’ll read in the FAQ above, it’s free for you to use, and students can complete it entirely on their own. Yet having taught with the EcoTypes survey since 2017, and after observing other instructors use it, I have some important recommendations for you to consider.
- Give it the time it deserves. The survey was deliberately created to offer a much broader, more robust way to explore environmental ideas than other popular instruments such as the New Ecological Paradigm. This can make it overwhelming to many students!: please see “What are the ways that instructors typically use EcoTypes?” above for ideas on student preparation (e.g., the SDG Mosaic card game) and followup (e.g., the reflection form). Giving the survey the time it deserves in your class will make the student experience more beneficial, and enjoyable.
- Emphasize difference. Our students live in a world of conflict; understandably many students seek commonality and agreement as a result. But EcoTypes is preparing them for a world where they need to learn how to work constructively with difference, and seeking agreement can only go so far. This is why the survey presents participants with not only their EcoType but their complementary EcoType, and why axes have poles and themes have attractors. Try to model for them ways of taking difference seriously. Here is a presentation on EcoTypes and difference you may find helpful as preparation.
- Model non-judgment. Students may wonder: what is the “correct” EcoType for me to have? This is understandable, but not at all what you wish for them to appreciate: the EcoTypes possibility that many care, just differently. I sometimes tell my students they can “take a break from judgment” when we discuss EcoTypes, or to practice “curious” (vs. the ubiquitous “critical”) thinking. To understand other ways of approaching environmental issues, other EcoTypes, is not necessarily to endorse them; and to share our own EcoType we don’t need to defend (or apologize for) it. You may need to intentionally model curiosity for students to appreciate this non-judgmental approach!
- Do the data. The EcoTypes survey, like all survey instruments, has its limitations; but students will best appreciate their survey results if they understand how they were generated. You can do a few things to help, such as (a) have them calculate their EcoType themselves via this fillable form; (b) do your own data analysis and present to them [requires a survey group code; see FAQ above]; and/or (c) have students do classroom activities based on their data-derived scores, such as lining up by Place, Knowledge, and/or Action theme score (possible range -1 to +1). Additionally, your students may benefit from viewing an overall data summary of all surveys submitted during the current academic year.
- Do role plays. Students may get defensive when discussing their own EcoType, but having them try on other EcoTypes can be fun and freeing. You might consider the EcoTypes personae as starters for this—e.g., the one representing their complementary EcoType. Role plays also offer you the opportunity to broaden representation of EcoTypes in your classroom beyond your students, who often cluster around certain key EcoTypes characteristic of young, environmentally conscious persons.
- Share your insights! Did you try an activity around the EcoTypes survey that proved especially successful?…or, perhaps wildly unsuccessful? Do share it with me, or via the EcoTypes instructor GoogleGroup. I would love to learn of new approaches to teaching with EcoTypes.
Can you tell me more about the survey data you store?
The EcoTypes survey is fully anonymous and GDPR compliant: no unique identity information is collected, and the use of anonymous data disclosed. (If a student forgets the entry key they were provided with their survey report, there is thus no way to retrieve the report for them to view, nor to delete their data if requested.) Some optional demographic data are collected at the end of the survey, but these are of a nature most respondents will not find to be sensitive.
All terms of the survey are provided on the first page. (You may need to come up with an alternative assignment if you wish to give your students the option not to take the survey, given these simple terms.)
Important! if you wish to receive a copy of your students’ data—a popular feature of EcoTypes to date—they must enter an institutional (group) code in the dropdown box at the start of the survey. Please contact us to agree on a code, and to specify a date by which your students will have completed the survey; we’ll then export your data into a .csv file and email it to you, and provide a guide to help you understand and use your data.
What resources can I consult to better teach EcoTypes?
The original EcoTypes site was packed with resources for instructors and students—too many, we heard. We are currently expanding and updating these resources into a book (possible publication date 2024), which you can use as a supplement in your courses; if interested, check the book notification box on our question form. We plan in the meantime to provide most resources from the original website to instructors in a packet; send us a request and we’ll provide you one.
It’s good to be a step ahead of students on the theory and methodology underlying EcoTypes, as you may hear them react in ways that mayt not promote deeper learning. A good starter resource is now on the EcoTypes FAQ page: see “What is the theory underlying EcoTypes,” and “How does the EcoTypes approach compare with others?” Feel free to be directly in touch if you have additional questions on these items: the FAQ is meant for general readers, and you may wish to go into greater depth.
One resource you might also consider is a 750-1000 word summary of each EcoTypes axis. This summary, which you may share with students, is out of date and in need of finalization to incorporating into the EcoTypes book, but offers more detail on each axis than you find on the website.
The Going Deeper page may have some information and resources of possible use.
Finally, I and cross-national collaborators have been presenting on EcoTypes in recent years. Here are links to some presentations that may be of value:
- “EcoTypes: Navigating Environmental Difference“, American Association of Geographers Human Dimensions of Global Change Speciality Group Webinar, Teaching Environmental and Climate Justice, January 2024.
- “Reimagining Environmental Imaginaries,” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, March 2023.
- “Environmental Theory: Conceptual and Empirical Explorations,” ESSCA School of Management International Week, March 2023.
- “Exploring Place, Knowledge, and Action via EcoTypes: A Cross-National Collaboration,” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, February 2022.
- “Environmental Heterodoxy via EcoTypes: Multiple Imaginaries of Place, Knowledge, and Action,” Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference, July 2022.
- In addition to the overview presentation for that session, my own contribution was “Navigating Environmental Heterodoxy: Meta-imaginaries of Place, Knowledge, and Action between One and Two.”
- Two collaborator presentations for the ISS conference included Aideen Foley, “Serious games & Environmental Imagination,” and Sailaja Nandigama, “Controversies Around Environmental Action among Undergraduates in BITS Pilani.”
You may also wish to read these two earlier publications; note that some more recent features of EcoTypes are not mentioned:
- Proctor, James D. 2020. “EcoTypes: Exploring Environmental Ideas, Discovering Deep Difference.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 10 (2): 178–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00592-y.
- Caplow, Susan. 2020. “The Role of EcoTypes in Engagement across Difference.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 10 (February): 189–95. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00587-9.
How can I keep in touch with other instructors using EcoTypes?
Please feel free to join our EcoTypes Google Group, designed for instructors using EcoTypes in their classes. As of 2023, the group includes over 150 members, and offers a wealth of insight into educational applications of EcoTypes.