SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND YOUR UNIVERSITY: A TEACHING INNOVATION PROGRAM TO INCREASE STUDENTS’ AWARENESS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
University of Zaragoza (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In 2015, the UN approved the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. It is hoped that this Agenda will help countries and societies to embark on a new path with which to improve the lives of all of us. This Agenda has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include everything from the elimination of poverty to the fight against climate change, education, women's equality, the defense of the environment and the design of cities.
In spite of the recognized relevance that knowledge about the 17 SDGs has for the sustainability of our planet, as well as for a healthy live, today’s students present a lack of knowledge and abilities to face sustainability challenges. In fact, environmental issues have little or no presence in the curriculum of the most Spanish undergraduate students. Thus, students are oblivious to environmental issues and, moreover, it is difficult to establish the relationship between their daily actions and the environmental consequences of them. For this reason, we have conducted a teaching innovation program in which students from University of Zaragoza (Teruel campus) actively learn about SDGs and how these can be achieved with daily actions. In this study, we had two groups of students: 1. Experimental group (N = 45) and 2. Control group (N = 60). The sample was formed by students of primary school teaching and pre-school teaching, psychology and arts. The experimental group is formed by students who participated in the program and the control group by students who did not participate in the program. We followed a pre (T0)-post (T1)- intervention design.
In T0, we collected data about the following variables:
(a) environmental knowledge,
(b) environmental social norm,
(c) environmental personal norm and
(d) self-reported pro-environmental behaviors.
Then, the experimental group attended 7 seminars that combined theory and practice. These were designed to address the 17 SDGs and were distributed along 6 months. Then, we collected data about the above-mentioned variables with the control and experimental groups. According to our results, for participants in the experimental groups, this teaching innovation program increased students’ knowledge in relation to the environment as well as their feeling of moral obligation to protect the environment (i.e., personal norm). Participation in the program also increased students’ self-reported behavior. No significant differences between T0 and T1 were found in the control group. We did not find significant differences in social norms between T0 and T1 in any of the groups.
Our results support the fact that an innovative teaching project can promote students’ sustainability habits and increase students’ knowledge about sustainability. This transversal program appears to be a useful way to face today’s environmental challenges.
This work has been supported by University of Zaragoza: PIIDUZ_18_097, PIIDUZ_18_123 and PIIDUZ_18_157
Keywords: Teaching innovation program, sustainability, undergraduates, experimental design.