A Values Framework for Students to Develop Thoughtful Attitudes about Citizenship and Stewardship Tim Lutzand LeeAnn Srogi, Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester University, West Chester, PA 19383 • Developing the Values Framework in Humans and the Environment • Courses that seek to connect science to the real-world situations experienced by citizens need to meet two challenges that relate to valuing nature. • The scientist-instructor may have come to the non-scientific aspects of the course over time and in a self-guided way, building great knowledge and enthusiasm but without developing a consistent framework in which to develop materials and to present information convincingly to non-scientists. • The students may come to the course with the perception that the only value that really makes a difference in today’s world is the utilitarian value, and that non-economic considerations are not important. Furthermore, they are experienced consumers who are wary that non-utilitarian values may threaten their cell phones, iPods, or cars. • Both instructors and students need a framework in which their dominant values, scientific and utilitarian, respectively, can be balanced and coordinated with other values to make the case that the world needs an informed, thoughtful citizenry. To illustrate how the values framework can be applied, consider Humans and the Environment, an interdisciplinary, general education course which typically deals with energy issues. Most of the specific materials considered here relate to coal and its consumption. • Utilitarian value • Many students have no idea of how much modern society depends on fossil fuels, particularly for generating electricity. An illustrated lecture shows how energy is produced and consumed in the U.S. A brief film (Toast, 12 minutes, 1974) show the many ways energy is used to produce even the most trivial product, like a piece of toast. The graph shows how consumption of coal in the U.S. changed as we moved from industrial axle power to electrical generation. Aesthetic value Coal mining has consequences for how appealing nature may be. The class studies mountain-top removal mining and acid mine drainage as consequences of coal consumption that affect the beauty of the landscape. Scientific/ecologistic value Students generally ‘know’ that coal is not a renewable resource– but what does that mean? A quantitative activity is used to develop the idea that renewability of an energy source relates to the relationship between rate of formation and rate of consumption. Students work with data on coal reserves in rocks of different ages to estimate the rate of formation (thousands of tons/year) and to interpret the factors that limit coal formation. The table shows the information they get and what they calculate (last column). The differing rates raise discussion about the environmental factors that affect coal formation. As part of the activity students calculate the rate of coal consumption and compare it to the rate of coal formation. They find that in a single year the world consumes the coal formed in over 100,000 years. The disparity dramatically indicates the degree to which coal consumption is not sustainable. Naturalistic value The contrast between the vast magnitude of coal use and the lack of awareness that students have of the amounts raises the question, “Why can we remain so blissfully unaware of coal?” A lifestyle based on high energy consumption eliminates many opportunities for people to directly experience the natural world or to understand how it works. The class discusses how people today differ from people of past generations and people in other countries in their naturalistic value, and what has been lost. Moralistic value Using information on energy consumption and population in different countries, students discover how inequitably the benefits and risks of energy consumption are distributed. The discussion contrasts the benefits, which accrue to each country or region, with the risks, which are transnational or global. It contrasts per capita energy consumption in the U.S. (11.3 kW/cap) with poor countries (over 60 countries have per capita consumption rates of less than 0.55 kW/cap). The class sees a film (Energy and Morality, 33 minutes, 1981) to generate discussion about how high energy consumption has changed our moral and societal values. The class also discusses the responsibility they have individually for making informed decisions about energy consumption. Negativistic value A consequence of lack of experience with the natural world is that people become alienated from nature and fearful of it. For example, most students in this class are strongly disinclined to pick up a piece of clean, hard anthracite. Few know where a nearby coal-powered electrical generating station is, have visited one, or are interested in visiting one. Negativistic value can keep us safe from aspects of nature which are truly dangerous, including pollution. A discussion topic is: how can we reconcile our total dependence on fossil fuels and the great benefits we receive with a lack of knowledge, and even a fear of the materials and processes that make it possible? Dominionistic value Because countries have unequal access to energy resources of all kinds, but especially petroleum, the need to control resources and pollutants has become vital: controlling the resources we require means that others cannot control them. Patterns of energy consumption today also depend on historical control structures, particularly European and American colonialism. Symbolic value Coal also has a powerful symbolic value. A “lump of coal” is seen as a fitting Christmas present for naughty children. The smokestack is a symbol of industrial production but also of pollution. The class uses internet resources to determine how the University’s own coal-powered steam plant affects air quality and human health. Theistic value When confronted with the enormous paradoxes, conflicts, and uncertainties of the energy situation many students seem to respond fatalistically: what can they do to make a difference?– they can’t live without their cars and computers. The final part of the course examines the possibility of a middle way. A further theistic connection is that some evangelical leaders have recently adopted sustainability as a Christian virtue.
Introduction to the Values Framework In most introductory geoscience courses students learn scientific ways of understanding and the practical benefits of the natural world. To further develop skills of citizenship and stewardship, students need to develop a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which people perceive, interact with, and value the natural world. We have adapted a values framework from Stephen Kellert. This poster explores how students are introduced to and apply the values framework in two introductory courses for non-science majors. Values and Citizenship Skills in a General Education Course on VOLCANOES The goals for a course on volcanoes include essential citizenship abilities: to understand the world from the perspective of another person or culture, and to make decisions and act upon incomplete and uncertain information. Kellert's values provide a vocabulary and schema to analyze attitudes of people living with geological hazards, and a means for students to express their understanding of human responses to the natural world and its hazards. Learning about and applying the Values Framework Class Activities, Sample Questions, FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 1). As we watch excerpts from the NATURE video, The Volcano Watchers, list the values (from Kellert’s list of 10 “Values of Life”) that you observe, and briefly explain why you chose each value, for people living near: Iceland, Heimay, Eldfell volcano; and Sicily, Etna volcano. 2). HOMEWORK: The assigned reading is Parícutin, 1943, from the book Vulcan’s Fury, by Alwyn Scarth. For the section of the article you are assigned, list examples of Kellert’s 10 “Values of Life” that describe how people are perceiving or responding to the volcano and the natural world. Briefly explain your choice of each value. Exam 1 Questions, SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT Kellert, Stephen R., The Value of Life, 1996, Washington, DC: Island Press. Think of these values as the ways that people relate to nature, our attitudes about or perceptions of nature. Utilitarian – practical and material exploitation of nature. Naturalistic – direct experience/exploration of nature; curiosity, recreation. Scientific/ecologistic – systematic study of structure, function, and relationship in nature; knowledge, understanding, observational skills. Aesthetic – physical appeal and beauty of nature. Symbolic – use of nature for language and thought. Humanistic – strong attachment and “love” for nature. Moralistic – spiritual reverence and ethical concern for nature. Dominionistic – mastery, physical control, dominance of nature. Negativistic – fear, aversion, alienation from nature. Theistic – nature reflects will of supernatural forces or deities who govern destiny; fatalistic belief. Making the Values Framework more Real and Personal Lab Activities, the Volcano Scenarios, FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT The Volcano Scenario is a 6-week module of lab activities based on real volcanoes that is conducted in small groups and culminates in a class presentation. Example Hazard Maps Produced by Students for the Volcano Scenario:Examples of students’ use of Kellert’s Values for the Scenarios: “Aesthetic, naturalistic, utilitarian values… Hotel owners will want their business to continue and will most likely revolt against the evacuation plans…It seems like it is a close knit area of people because there are only 3 large towns so the people will want to stick together and probably not leave” “The people in this area will most likely be attached to the land. They have large areas of major farming … a utilitarian valuebecause [of] their use of the land for food… We might tell them that although they might have to evacuate the land a possible eruption might help crops in later years…” Exam 3 Take-Home Essay Question, SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: In this course, we have explored people’s attitudes towards nature and volcanoes (Kellert’s “Values of Life”). We have tried to understand what it’s like to make difficult decisions, with limited and ambiguous data – decisions that can have large consequences for people’s lives. Discuss in this essay what you have learned from these experiences in our class, and how you can apply these ideas and experiences in your own life. I realized that although volcanic eruptions are beautiful and fascinating, devastation occurs and what makes the volcano hazardous relates directly to the people surrounding it, and the lives that could potentially be lost. … Whether it is specifically their home or the land surrounding it, Kellert’s Values of life can almost always apply to them. … Trying to identify with these people, I have looked inside myself and have decided what my values of life really are and how I would react to having my life, as I know it, ripped away in front of me. I have seen that I have Naturalistic, Aesthetic, Symbolic and Humanistic values. … Without the knowledge that I have gained from this course, I would most likely … not take the warnings seriously until I would see the eruption myself because I would be in denial. Before this class, my thoughts of geologists were people donned in white lab coats studying rocks. After studying the different eruptions in class, however, I realize just how important geologists’ work is to people and their safety. … By learning about these eruptions, I also learned the importance of supporting disaster relief and understand the needs of programs such as VDAP, which benefit not only the area in need of help but the United States as well with their training and experience. The things we learned about how to deal with the people, or how people deal with the situation they live in, were able to be used with all different types of disasters and different life situations. … I used to think that people that got hurt in volcanic eruptions had been hurt because they didn’t know there was a volcano there… or they just did not have enough warning to get out of harm’s way. … after this year, learning about how some people depend on volcanoes for their source of livelihood, and especially Kellert’s Values of Life, I realized that it is really hard to tell people to get up and move, to leave their house and most of their belongings … I have found that these people, the ones that monitor the volcanoes, and those that live around it, have the “will to act in the face of uncertainty.” … In time of uncertainty, they act when they are needed, and they don’t live in fear or in restriction do to this. I have discovered that this idea is exactly how anyone, even myself should look at life. We have explored the many attitudes and behaviors that people feel when something happens to the area that they live. … by exploring topics in this class it makes me think twice where I want to live. People are so ignorant today that they do not look at the potential hazards when building communities and homes. A perfect example would be New Orleans and how hurricane Katrina destroyed the city. I feel that people should look at the fact that the city is indeed below sea level and that it has the potential of flooding. I feel that people should look at the values of life and how certain people react to their homes.