Behavior, Education and Communication

Overview

Most environmental problems are people problems,says Professor Raymond De Young, coordinator of the Behavior, Education and Communication field of study. Finding solutions requires an understanding of how individuals and organizations think, what they care about, what motivates them, how they communicate and the conditions under which they behave most reasonably and creatively.

As a behavior, education and communication specialist, you will examine the beliefs and behaviors of individuals and groups and study how they both recognize environmental issues and motivate themselves to take action. You will learn how to provide a conceptual psychological framework for addressing these issues through educational and informational venues like classrooms, museums and ecology centers.

You also will use communication techniques to shape social norms and influence individual decision-makers in ways that promote a more environmentally sustainable society. This approach applies to contexts as diverse as community activity, leadership, negotiation, organizational efforts, household behavior and all other areas where humans interact with the environment.

One of the enduring challenges of crafting a sustainable society is to create one that people will actually want to live in De Young says. Extensive behavioral knowledge and experience are required to reframe and then promote such a future, so that people not only accept it willingly, but actually seek it out.

One of the worlds most highly regarded environmental educators was on the schools faculty for 30 years. William B. Stapp, who died in 2001, is considered the founder of the international environmental education movement. As founding director of environmental education for UNESCO, he implemented programs in 120 nations and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. His enduring vision of social and environmental justice for all people still influences the curriculum today.

What you will study

The Behavior, Education and Communication field of study serves as a focal point for the study of the socio-behavioral aspects of natural resource and environmental issues. Scholars view the science of behavior through an environmental prism and examine the role of education and communication in advancing a sustainable society.

The curriculum builds broad comprehension of the causes, dynamics and consequences of decisions and actions that impact natural resource and environmental values and concerns. In your coursework, you will study human behavior in the context of the environment, both present and evolutionary, and learn to design educational, communication and motivational techniques for promoting environmental sustainability.

Launching your career

This field of study equips you with the educational background and skills needed to become an effective, innovative environmental educator, policymaker, planning analyst or sustainability advocate who will develop programs and facilitate decision-making about important natural resource and environmental issues. Many graduates find employment with non-governmental organizations. Others serve as green-building consultants, environmental educators or conservation behavior specialists.

For more information on the Behavior, Education and Communication field of study, visit the BEC track careers page or contact snre.admissions@umich.edu .