GEOETHICS: RESULTS OF AN INTERVENTION PROGRAMME IN HIGHER EDUCATION

A. Cardoso , T. Ribeiro , C. Vasconcelos 

Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
Facing the great global challenges requires a sustainable relationship between humans and the Earth system. Geoethics is a field of knowledge that intends to investigate and reflect on ways to instil a better relationship between society and the planet. Thus, geoethics can play a crucial role in shaping better behaviours towards the Earth, contributing to its sustainability. As such, teaching geoethics is an increasingly recognized issue because it can allow to contribute to a good decision-making process currently so needed by the planet. An intervention programme based on educational resources elaborated in the scope of an international project was developed to teach theoretical aspects of geoethics and its connection with sustainable development in a geosciences’ curricular unit on higher education. The aim of this study was to evaluate if students developed knowledge about the subjects referred. Data was collected resorting to a questionnaire fulfilled by the students before the intervention programme and through an interview carried out after the intervention programme. The questionnaire comprised 11 closed questions and four open questions and the interview script included 13 open questions. Both instruments intended to collect data about theoretical aspects of geoethics and its connection to sustainable development. The results showed that addressing these subjects with students contributed to the development of knowledge and potential future competencies regarding the main characteristics of geoethics and its role for geoscientists and society and about the contributions geoethics can give to sustainable development. Students also referred that teaching geoethics is fundamental to raise awareness of geoscientists and society about the urgent and ethical choices they will need to make for the sustainability of the Earth. The present study shows that teaching geoethics should be a concern and its inclusion in the curricula is of paramount importance for shaping better citizens capable of making decisions for planetary protection.