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New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures (2002)

Chapter: Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)

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Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
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Page 43
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
×
Page 44
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
×
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
×
Page 46
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
×
Page 47
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Information and Education for Individuals, Households, and Communities (Introduction)." National Research Council. 2002. New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10401.
×
Page 48

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PART II INFORMATION AND EDUCATION FOR INDIVIDUALS, HOUSEHOLDS, AND COMMUNITIES

Introduction _ ' n this part of the volume, the contributors examine the use of "new tools" to influence the behavior of individuals, households, and communities. We _ _ find it useful to distinguish between two general strategies for employing the new tools of communication and diffusion discussed in this part: social market- ing and public education. Chapters 3-8 examine influence attempts that follow a logic of social mar- keting (McKenzie-Mohr and Smith, 1999~. A target behavior is identified on the basis of its presumed environmental benefits, and communication and diffusion instruments are mobilized to increase the prevalence of the target behavior in a target population. Social marketing interventions may use the full range of communication and diffusion instruments. They may appeal to the target group's values and beliefs, try to shape those values and beliefs, provide information or skills, elicit commitments, promote social norms and expectations, create part- nerships with organizations that might be influential with the target population, and so forth. Like other kinds of marketing, social marketing works within and does not attempt to change the context set by social institutions, financial incen- tives, and existing infrastructure. It normally focuses on behaviors that have fairly direct impacts on environmental quality behaviors such as recycling of household wastes, use of private or public transport, and household appliance purchases and maintenance, rather than on behaviors that may affect the envi- ronment indirectly by influencing public policy. Proenvironmental social marketing often has been controversial in the Unit- ed States. This is because people sometimes disagree sharply about whether it is proper for government agencies to use communication and diffusion instruments stronger than mere information provision for environmental policy purposes. In 45

46 INFORMATION AND EDUCATION Chapter 3, Lutzenhiser discusses some of the political debates since the 1970s over the social marketing of energy conservation. The extent to which govern- ments are willing to use the more intrusive communication instruments those involving persuasion, appeals to values, or efforts to change social norms- probably depends on the urgency of the behavioral objective and the strength of public support for it. These factors probably account for the long history of vigorous social marketing to promote disaster preparedness and public health measures such as vaccination and "safe sex" behaviors (see Chapters 6 and 7~. That history may hold lessons for environmental social marketing, which has a shorter history and a sparser record of evaluation research. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 review knowledge about the most extensively studied types of environmental social marketing efforts aimed at decreasing household energy use, increasing participation in recycling programs, and increasing the market share of "green" household commodities. Some of these programs have been government sponsored, while others have relied partly or exclusively on nongovernmental organizations. It is worth noting that the target behaviors of these programs are not the most important ones in terms of direct environmental impact. Decisions about the size and location of one's dwelling unit, the pur- chase of motor vehicles, and the frequency and method of travel are more signif- icant in environmental terms than most of the behaviors targeted by the pro- grams reviewed here. We report on the well-studied cases in the hope that they can illuminate more general issues as well. Chapters 6 and 7 complement the environmental chapters with summaries of lessons learned from social marketing in the areas of public health and disas- ter preparedness. These chapters are included not because the target behaviors are believed to have significant environmental impacts, but because the pro- grams share some common elements with environmental social marketing. The extent to which these lessons may transfer to the environmental context is dis- cussed in Chapter 8. It is worth noting that social marketing in the areas of public health and disaster preparedness has sometimes used communication and diffusion instruments in more aggressive ways than they have been used in envi- ronmental social marketing. The lessons of these efforts may be useful for governments or communities that attach sufficient urgency and importance to changing environmentally relevant behaviors to warrant adopting strong mea- sures of communication and diffusion. Public environmental education is a very different strategy conceptually from social marketing. As Ramsey and Hungerford define environmental educa- tion in Chapter 9, its main goal is to promote responsible citizenship behavior. The presumption is that if people develop solid knowledge about environmental processes and conditions and the skills necessary for effective citizenship, they will move the society in ways that will tend to provide the environmental protec- tion that people want. Public education, defined in this way, does not try to change specific behaviors that have direct environmental impact. Rather, its aim

INTRODUCTION 47 is to increase the prevalence of effective citizenship behaviors that affect the environment only indirectly. The particular citizenship behaviors cannot be de- fined in advance because well-educated citizens will differ in how they partici- pate, and even in the environmental goals they favor. Thus, the best test of environmental education as defined here is the level and sophistication of public involvement in environmental decision making at all levels of government and outside government. Environmental impact is only an indirect effect. Public environmental education, like social marketing, is sometimes contro- versial in the United States. Some of this controversy can be attributed to the perception, correct or incorrect, that environmental education programs as actu- ally implemented are disguised social marketing. This potential for confusion makes it useful to maintain a sharp conceptual distinction between the different logics of environmental education and social marketing, even if the distinction is sometimes blurred in practice. For example, educational organizations some- times engage in aggressive social marketing with broad public support, as they do when they advocate against the use of illegal drugs. The conditions under which educational organizations are used for social marketing are probably sim- ilar to those under which other public organizations are used for this purpose: perceived urgency of the behavioral objective and strongly supportive social norms. Chapters 9 and 10 discuss interventions that involve environmental educa- tion. Ramsey and Hungerford (Chapter 9) examine research on school-based environmental education programs, with a major focus on citizenship behavior as an outcome variable. Andrews, Stevens, and Wise (Chapter 10) develop a concept of "community-based environmental education" that is actually a hybrid of the educational and social marketing strategies. The ethical issues sometimes raised by combining education and marketing presumably are addressed because the interventions are aimed at adult members of the communities that create the programs. Thus, the targets of social marketing have had the opportunity to participate in its design. Andrew s and colleagues' community-based environmental education model uses many of the influence techniques common in integrated community-based environmental programs that do not describe themselves as educational. Com- munity recycling programs (see Chapter 4) are a frequently studied example. Community-based programs also have been organized to clean up polluted riv- ers, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and achieve other environmental objec- tives. Community-based environmental programs, whether or not described as educational, have not yet received systematic research attention. Nevertheless, some researchers and practitioners have examined available knowledge to iden- tify program characteristics that seem to promote success in these programs (e.g., McKenzie-Mohr and Smith, 1999; Gardner and Stern, 1996: Chapter 7~. These characteristics are discussed further in Chapter 12. Chapter 11 examines community-based environmental programs through a

48 INFORMATION AND EDUCATION wider lens, focusing on their social and political contexts. It is commonly ob- served that certain communities are environmental and civic innovators across many different areas. Chapter 11 provides some empirical grounding and a theoretical framework to go with these observations. It presents a policy capac- ity framework for thinking about characteristics of communities and their con- texts that enable them to take effective environmental action. It also considers what governments at higher levels might do to provide favorable conditions for local initiatives. Chapter 12 offers a conceptual framework and some tentative conclusions regarding the usefulness of communication and diffusion instru- ments for changing behavior in individuals, households, and communities. REFERENCES Gardner, G.T., and P.C. Stern 1996 Environmental Problems and Human Behavior. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. McKenzie-Mohr, D., and W. Smith 1999 Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Market- ing. Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Can.: New Society Publishers.

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Many people believe that environmental regulation has passed a point of diminishing returns: the quick fixes have been achieved and the main sources of pollution are shifting from large "point sources" to more diffuse sources that are more difficult and expensive to regulate. The political climate has also changed in the United States since the 1970s in ways that provide impetus to seek alternatives to regulation. This book examines the potential of some of these "new tools" that emphasize education, information, and voluntary measures. Contributors summarize what we know about the effectiveness of these tools, both individually and in combination with regulatory and economic policy instruments. They also extract practical lessons from this knowledge and consider what is needed to make these tools more effective. The book will be of interest to environmental policy practitioners and to researchers and students concerned with applying social and behavioral sciences knowledge to improve environmental quality.

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