Building Eco-social Capacity to Meet Environmental Crisis: A Model Accommodating Perspectives of Western Sydney Community Groups

By Tom Colley, Shelley Burgin and Brenda Dobia.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

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By identifying the salient views of environmental community groups in Western Sydney with respect to how they engaged others and built capacity, this paper presents a model of eco-social capacity building. The research methodology involved semi-structured interviews that facilitated reflection on the practitioners' experiences and attitudes. The model draws on Self-Determination Theory to elucidate motivational processes and integrate other major capacity domains: worldview, environmental relationship skills and social relationship skills. It relates environmental and social connectedness to these capacities and gives particular attention to the relationship between motivation and worldview. It explains the motivational consequences of approaching environmental action from both anthropocentric and ecocentric worldviews. We also examine how notions of environmental crisis affect motivation. The model's development process has linked psychological theory with a body of literature on ecocentrism and active hope. In so doing, several possibilities have emerged concerning the adoption of ecocentric worldviews that suggest viable processes for iteratively increasing eco-social capacity and motivation for pro-environmental behaviours.

Keywords: Learning for Sustainability, Education, Not-For-Profit, Community Engagement, Ecocentrism, The Great Turning

International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 10, Issue 1, February 2015, pp.1-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 730.113KB).

Tom Colley

Ph.D Candidate, School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Prof. Shelley Burgin

Professor of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Society and Design, Bond University, Gold Coast, NSW, Australia

Dr. Brenda Dobia

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia