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Community Engagement in Higher Education

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What are stopping university students from acting against climate change?

by Kuok Ho Daniel Tang , Tony Hadibarata
BNU-HKBU United International College

SUBMITTED: 08 May 2022; ACCEPTED: 30 May 2022; PUBLISHED: 10 June 2022

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Climate Change Education (CCE) is a branch of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that addresses the pressing issue of climate change. Like ESD, it seems to be constrained in bringing about attitudinal and behavioral changes. This review aims to examine the barriers of attitudinal and behavioral changes among students of higher learning institutions towards climate actions. It examines specific peer-reviewed literature on CCE, particularly on its effectiveness, to deduce these barriers and formulate the relevant recommendations. From this review, six barriers were identified. The first is the complexity and multi-dimensionality of CCE can be hard to grasp, thus causing students to lose sight of the associated climate actions. The second is their preconceptions and misconceptions, which could weaken their willingness to take climate action, and this is complicated by biases, which form the third barrier. The fourth and fifth barriers are their perception that some of these changes are difficult and that they may not result in significant outcomes. Lastly, their habitual behaviors could subconsciously lead them to contradict climate actions. To address these barriers, a series of CCE courses with the inclusion of a practical course is useful to let students identify their habits and difficult changes, unlearn the habits and strategize to overcome the difficulties, and assess the significance of their behavioral changes through an evidence-based approach. A dedicated foundational CCE course is crucial to equip students with the fundamentals before integration of CCE into other courses in their respective majors in the process of mainstreaming CCE. Knowing these barriers and how to deal with them is advantageous to break the bottleneck of attitudinal and behavioral changes associated with CCE.

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© 2022 Kuok Ho Daniel Tang, Tony Hadibarata. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Tang, K. H. D., & Hadibarata, T. (2022). What are stopping university students from acting against climate change?. Community Engagement in Higher Education, 1(1), 1–13. Retrieved from
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