We have lots of new things going on in EcoTypes starting in 2022! Feel free to expand any of the below for more information.
1. A lot of new things started summer 2021…
…do read “What’s new starting summer 2021?” on the Instructor FAQ (you can read it even if you’re not an instructor!). We did quite a few changes to the EcoTypes survey and site last summer, which you’ll find there. If you have used EcoTypes prior to summer 2021, the summary will catch you up.
2. …and in fall 2021, surprising cross-national collaboration results.
I have recently had the pleasure to launch a collaboration with Naciba Chassagnon (ESSCA School of Management, France); Aideen Foley (Birkbeck, University of London, U.K.); and Sailaja Nandigama (BITS Pilani, India). In fall our students compared EcoTypes between my institution (Lewis & Clark College), ESSCA, and BITS Pilani: look at the results! What different patterns do you see among EcoTypes?
Small is Beautiful turned out to be the predominant EcoType among participating students in France and India, while EcoTypes prevalent among students at Lewis & Clark, including Ecospirituality and Indigenous Justice, had very little representation in France and India. Why? We asked students to fill out a qualitative form, and discovered several things, such as:
- Most respondents agreed that their EcoTypes fit them pretty well
- This was true among Small is Beautiful respondents, who generally affirmed their EcoType’s emphasis on the small Action theme pole
- But Small is Beautiful respondents also named geographically specific reasons for their small Action preference, such as a distrust of their country’s government
We hope to expand cross-national collaboration via our Focus on Frameworks initiative, summarized below, given enhanced opportunities for all participants to learn from a more diverse group.
3. Coming later spring 2022: Animals, Cities, and Economies axes…
As of January 2022, the EcoTypes survey includes a page of candidate statements we are testing related to the existing Nature axis, and three potential new axes: Animals, Cities, and Economies. We will more fully incorporate these axes into the survey later, but you may be interested in interim results among the first (n ≈ 400) respondents.
There are no summaries available yet for these three axes, but, like other axes, each addresses one important difference in environmental ideas. Here are the left and right pole statements for each that seem to be the best statistical fit; what do you think these axes characterize?
- (Left) We should have fewer pets and livestock, and allow animals to live more natural lives.
- (Right) We should continue to domesticate animals to serve our human needs.
- (Left) Cities today need more nature: more parks, more habitat, more room for nonhumans.
- (Right) Though it is fine to include nature in cities, we must prioritize important human needs.
- (Left) We can improve environmental conditions more via free markets than government regulations.
- (Right) For environmental protection, economies need to be more centralized and regulated than a free market system.
- The Animals axis is a part of Place
- The Cities axis is a part of Place
- The Economies axis is a part of Action
Here is a factor analysis table from this early 2022 sample (n = 401); axes with higher weights contribute more to their respective factors.
4. …and for all 18 axes, here are some early 2022 descriptive statistics.
You may wonder how your axis averages compare with those overall: below are descriptive statistics for the early 2022 sample used in the factor analysis summarized above. Averages tending toward the left axis pole are negative, and those tending toward the right axis pole are positive, with a maximum of -/+ 1.00.
It’s important to remember that these descriptives are not from a representative sample, but we do have some idea based on anonymous demographics. Of 401 respondents total, roughly 80% reported living in the U.S., and many were undergraduate college students enrolled in an environmental course that took the survey as part of an assignment.
Particularly strong means (those tending toward a pole) and particularly high standard deviations (those suggesting greater disagreement) are highlighted. What do these descriptive statistics say about responses overall in early 2022? Do you see any tendencies in environmental ideas among those who took the EcoTypes survey in early 2022? How do you, or how does your class, compare on these EcoTypes axes?
5. And coming summer 2022: Focus on Frameworks
As EcoTypes enters its fifth year, I have decided to expand the initiative to an important larger context: a focus on frameworks. If the complexities of today’s environmental issues and related debates tell us anything, it’s that environmental knowledge must be more than a set of clear facts and compelling actions. Facts and action are vitally important, but the plethora of claims we hear on facts and action only become meaningful in the context of frameworks: the organizing, integrative concepts upon which environmental knowledge is built.
And ours is a world not only of competing claims to fact and action, but diverse, divergent frameworks. A focus on frameworks—given various names by scholars, including cognitive schema, ideologies, imaginaries, narratives, or paradigms—is necessary to understand why certain environmental facts and action predominate over others, or why there is disagreement over facts and action; ultimately, more inclusive, coherent frameworks will help us collectively build better environmental knowledge.
In summer 2022 I’ll start building a frameworks initiative, and since my day job involves working with students, I’ll focus on research, collaboration, and publication on the wide range of frameworks that inform undergraduate environmental higher education, primarily in the US but with some cross-national comparison. Undergraduate environmental education is likely not only a key site of explicit knowledge transmission from instructors to students, but of implicit framework transmission as well.
Whether sustainability, systems thinking, social justice, or many others, these frameworks become key to how future environmental leaders think and act. Undergraduate environmental education thus plays a major role in the reproduction, or possible transformation, in guiding frameworks informing, directing, and effectively constraining our future as guided by environmental experts.
If interested in more details, feel free to be in touch.