SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION AND OVERCONSUMPTION: STUDENTS’ KNOWLEDGE AND VIEWS
It is a fact that the course of social, economic and ecological decline continues. A gigantic, unsustainable system of continuous production and consumption is pressing tightly and makes unreasonable use of natural resources. Man, considering himself to be dominant on the planet, interferes with ecosystems without taking into account the time necessary or their ability to recover. The warnings of specialists for the aggravation of environmental problems are not acknowledged. Growth remains one-sided and synonymous with the increase in the profits of the privileged ones who run the economy, suggesting that this system cultivates environmental awareness among citizens and gives the consumer the right to choose without taking into account the quality of life factor that is linked unilaterally with the consumption of goods. This kind of deliberately promoted development is considered disastrous and disturbs both the balance of the natural and man-made environment.
In this situation it must be understood that the relationship between man and nature is a relationship of interdependence rather than exploitation. The main concern of people can no longer be the maximum consumption. There is an urgent need to transform societies -especially as far as the new generation is concerned- from consumerism and economic growth into sustainability. This can also be achieved through education for sustainable development. The methods and teaching techniques used in this learning process can provide participants with knowledge, awareness, positive attitude, activation and participation in decision-making based on a code of ethics for the life-supporting chain of the planet. On this basis, profound changes can be introduced to human society, so it can realize its direct connection with nature in order to support a permanently sustainable principle for the present and the future of humanity.
In this context, the purpose of this study is to investigate the knowledge and to record the views of Rhodes high school students on issues related to sustainability, the effects of overconsumption and their consumption behaviors. In order to conduct the research, empirical quantitative was chosen as the basic method. The sample consists of 298 students and their selection was by random sampling. The data collection was carried out using a questionnaire distributed in February 2017. The results of the research show that students recognize to a sufficient degree the importance of the content of sustainable development as well as the environmental and social problems resulting from over-consumption behaviors. The findings show that according to the country of origin of the sample and the level of education of their parents, the responses of the students are differentiated, showing statistically significant differences between them.