Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the Perceptions African Americans have about the Environment and Nature and how those Perceptions Influence Their Behavior and Environmental Commitment
by Warren, Tameria M., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2016, 257; 10142442
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation research examines the perceptions held by African Africans as they pertain to the environment and nature and the factors influencing those perceptions. The research covers the ecopsycological elements, historical narratives, and current social dynamics of African American culture in order to understand their frame of reference in connection to the environment. Two populations of African American adults in Michigan and South Carolina were used to study the perceptions and behaviors exhibited by the culture. The research study used interview sessions and questionnaires in order to generate qualitative and quantitative data. The data focused on outdoor childhood activities, adult involvement, concerns about the environment, perceptions of individuals and mainstream organizations associated with the environment, current and potential environmental behaviors, and factors contributing to the participants’ environmental actions and decisions. With unanimous responses indicating that research participants have engaged in some form of outdoor activity during childhood, as well as a majority of these individuals expressing time spent outdoors or in nature as positive, there is indication the environment plays an integral part in the lives of African Americans. Additionally, participants acknowledged discussions about the environment and nature rarely occurred between themselves and their parents or other adults during their childhood, especially in regards to conservation, preservation, and pollution prevention measures. What they did experience, however, was language through demonstration; any specific actions about managing or taking care of the earth was learned through hands-on approaches rather than verbal communication. Lastly participants in this study overwhelmingly cited Caucasians and elements oftentimes associated with Caucasians as the frame of reference for environmentalism. In contrast, African Americans are just as interested in and concerned about the environment, yet they do not perceive themselves as environmentalists. The study results indicate there are significant correlations between some environmental and social aspects exhibited by the participants and overall, African Americans are interested in the environment and some of the components associated with it.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mitten, Denise
Commitee: Barnes, Phillip, Coull, Bruce, Donaldson, Bobby
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Environmental education, Sustainability
Keywords: African americans, Environmental attitudes, Environmental behaviors, Environmental perceptions, Michigan, South carolina
Publication Number: 10142442
ISBN: 9781339977478
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