LCE  Vol.2 No.3 , September 2011
The Relationship between Energy Literacy and Environmental Sustainability
Abstract: Sustainability, first identified as a characteristic of eco-systems, is the capacity to maintain a process indefinitely. Environmental sustainability receives significant public and government attention, triggered by concerns about climate change, decreasing energy supplies, and increasing food costs. Colleges and universities receive positive notice for their greening efforts, and the academy is expected to be a leader in efforts to improve sustainability. Therefore coursework and curricula must be developed to train students about sustainable resource consumption processes. This paper describes curricula materials related to energy literacy, defined as conceptual fluency with the economic and social components of energy use. These materials were developed and piloted over a three year period, and were tested with a pre- and post-course survey administered with questions based on the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) and Environmentally Responsible Behavior (ERB). The findings of this study suggest that discussion of sustainability with disaster themes triggers anxiety that interferes with the development of ERB. In contrast, materials emphasizing the pragmatic necessity and benefits derived from sustainable practices relate to improvements in ERB. This suggests sustainability curricula should mitigate anxiety aroused by the topic, and instead emphasize pragmatic motivations for changing energy consumption patterns.
Cite this paper: nullC. Dwyer, "The Relationship between Energy Literacy and Environmental Sustainability," Low Carbon Economy, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2011, pp. 123-137. doi: 10.4236/lce.2011.23016.

[1]   R. Watson, M. C. Boudreau and A. J. Chen, “Information Systems and Environmentally Sustainable Development: Energy Informatics and New Directions for the IS Community,” Management Information Systems Quar- terly, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2010, pp. 23-38.

[2]   T. A. Jenkinlow, J. Webster and L. McShanea, “An Agenda for ‘Green’ Information Technology and Systems Research,” Information and Organization, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 17-40, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.infoandorg.2010.09.003

[3]   N. Melville, “Information Systems Innovation for En- vironmental Sustainability,” Management Information Systems Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2010, pp. 1-21.

[4]   H. Hasan and C. Dwyer, “Was the Copenhagen Summit Doomed from the Start? Some Insights from Green IS research,” Americas Conference on Information Systems 2010 Proceeding, Lima, 2010, p.67.

[5]   V. Smil, “Energy at the Crossroads,” OECD Global Science Forum Conference, Paris, 17-18 May 2006.

[6]   EIA, “The Energy Information Administration,” 2011.

[7]   S. Swartz and S. Oster, “China Tops U.S. in Energy Use,” 2011.

[8]   WikiPedia, “List of Countries by Energy Consumption Per Capita,” 2011.

[9]   IEA, “World Energy Outlook 2009,” International Ener- gy Agency, Paris, 2009.

[10]   H. S. Matthews, C. T. Hendrickson and C. L. Weber, “The Importance of Carbon Footprint Estimation Boun- daries,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 42, No. 16, 2008, pp. 5839-5842. doi:10.1021/es703112w

[11]   D. Yergin, “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power,” Free Press, New York, 1991.

[12]   J. Diamond, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Penguin Books, New York, 2005.

[13]   A. Revkin, “Smil on Hummers, Hondas, Meat, Heat,” The New York Times, New York, 19 October 2009.

[14]   K. S. Deffeyes, “Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak.” Hill and Wang, New York, 2005.

[15]   NYMEX, “Light Sweet Crude Oil Futures Contract Spe- cifications,” 2011.

[16]   A. Ward, “REC Predicts Bright Future for Solar Energy,” 2011.

[17]   G. Metcalf, “Designing a Carbon Tax to Reduce US Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2009, pp. 63-83. doi:10.1093/reep/ren015

[18]   L. H. Barrow and J. T. Morrisey, “Energy Literacy of Ninth-Grade Students: A Comparison between Maine and New Brunswick,” Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1989, pp. 22-25. doi:10.1080/00958964.1989.9943027

[19]   J. DeWaters and S. Powers, “Energy Literacy among Middle and High School Youth,” The 38th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Sarasota, 2008, pp.6-11.

[20]   UNESCO, “The Plurality of Literacy and its Implications for Policies and Programmes,” UNESCO Education Sector, Paris, 2004.

[21]   L. Snyder, A. V. Aho, M. Linn, A. Packer, A. Tucker, J. D. Ullman and A. Van Dam, “Being Fluent with Informa- tion Technology,” National Academy Press, Washington, D. C., 1999.

[22]   E. A. Gomez and M. Turoff, “Community Crisis Respon- se Teams: Leveraging Local Resources through ICT E- Readiness,” The 40th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, 2007.

[23]   J. Meyer and C. Dwyer, “Improving Quantitative Reason- ing Through Analysis of News Stories,” International Journal of Learning, Vol. 12, No. 6, 2006, pp. 165-174.

[24]   P. Berthon, J. Hulbert and L. Pitt, “Consuming Technogy: Why Marketers Get It Wrong,” California Management Review, Vol. 48, No. 1. 2005, pp. 110-128.

[25]   R. Watson, M. C. Boudreau, A. Chen and M. Huber, “Green IS: Building Sustainable Business Practices,” Information Systems, Atlanta, 2007.

[26]   D. Lockton, D. J. Harrison and N. A. Stanton, “Making the User More Efficient: Design for Sustainable Behavi- our,” in Brunel University Research Archive, 2008.

[27]   ACUPCC, “American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” 2011.

[28]   EIA, “The Energy Information Administration,” 2009.

[29]   J. Mouawad, “Amid High Oil Prices, Danger Signs in Production,” The New York Times, New York, 28 Apil 2008.

[30]   R. L. Hirsch, “The Inevitable Peaking of World Oil Production,” 2009.

[31]   M. Fishbein and I. Ajzen, “Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research,” Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, New York, 1975.

[32]   I. Ajzen, “The Theory of Planned Behavior,” Organiza- tional Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50, No. 2, 1991, pp. 179-211. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

[33]   C. Mobley, W. M. Vagias and S. L. DeWard, “Exploring Additional Determinants of Environmentally Responsible Behavior: The Influence of Environmental Literature and Environmental Attitudes,” Environment and Behavior, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2009, pp. 420-447. doi:10.1177/0013916508325002

[34]   M. T. Dishawa and D. M. Strong, “Supporting Software Maintenance with Software Engineering Tools: A Computed Task—Technology Fit Analysis,” Journal of Systems and Software, Vol. 44, No.2, 1998, pp. 107-120. doi:10.1016/S0164-1212(98)10048-1

[35]   M. Cordano, S. A. Welcomer and R. F. Scherer, “An Analysis of the Predictive Validity of the New Ecological Paradigm Scale,” Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2003, pp. 22-28. doi:10.1080/00958960309603490

[36]   R. Dunlap, K. V. Liere, A. Mertig and R. E. Jones, “Mea- suring Endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A Revised NEP Scale,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 56, No. 3, 2000, pp. 425-442. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00176

[37]   J. J. Vaske and K. C. Kobrin, “Place Attachment and Environmentally Responsible Behavior,” Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2001, pp. 16-21. doi:10.1080/00958960109598658

[38]   N. J. Smith-Sebasto and A. D’Costa, “Designing a Likert- Type Scale to Predict Environmentally Responsible Behavior in Undergraduate Students: A Multistep Pro- cess,” Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 27, No. 1, 1995, pp. 14-20. doi:10.1080/00958964.1995.9941967

[39]   S. Kaplan, “Human Nature and Environmentally Respon- sible Behavior,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 56, No. 3, 2000, pp. 491-508. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00180

[40]   J. Nunnally, “Psychometric Theory,” Mc-Graw-Hill, New York, 1967.

[41]   S. Petter, D. W. Straub and A. Rai, “Specifying Forma- tive Constructs in Information Systems Research,” Ma- nagement Information Systems Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2007, pp. 623-656.

[42]   H. R. Bernard, “Social Research Methods,” Sage Publica- tions Inc., Thousand Oaks, 2000.

[43]   W. Abrahamse, L. Steg, C. Vlek and T. Rothengatter, “A Review of Intervention Studies Aimed at Household Energy Conservation,” Journal of Environmental Psycho- logy, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2005, pp. 273-291. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2005.08.002

[44]   W. R. Miller and S. Rollnick, “Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change,” 2nd Edition, The Guilford Press, New York, 2002.

[45]   G. Bush, “State of the Union Address,” 2011.

[46]   C. C. DiClemente and J. Prochaska, “Toward a Compre- hensive, Transtheoretical Model of Change: Stages of Change and Addictive Behaviours,” 2nd Edition, Plenum Press, New York, 1998.

[47]   S. D. Moeller, “Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death,” Routledge, New York, 1999.

[48]   S. Fankhauser, “Valuing Climate Change: The Economics of the Greenhouse,” Earthscan Publications, London, 1995.

[49]   A. McMichael, R. Woodruff and S. Hales, “Climate Change and Human Health: Present and Future Risks,” The Lancet, Vol. 367, No. 9513, 2006, pp. 859-869. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68079-3

[50]   C. Dwyer and E. A. Gomez, “Sustainability Course Modules for Information Systems and Interdisciplinary Courses,” America’s Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco, 2009.