Raymond De Young Ph.D.
Ph.D., 1984, University of Michigan
We must learn to respond to diminishing material and energy abundance while we address climate disruption caused by our past consumption. This bio-physical reality is inevitable. What is not inevitable, however, is the nature of our response. I’m heartened by Antonio Gramsci’s notion of a “pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will.” While the resource descent we face will be historic, so too can be our response.
The depth of the required response is unprecedented. It is needed, even overdue, but it will be hard. It does not entail collapse, but rather a descent to a lower level of social complexity. To have a gentler transition we need to accept a slower and simpler pattern of living. We must plan for, motivate, and maintain deep, yet meaningful, behavior change starting with each of us, where we are, now. Shall we start the transitions needed while we still have a surplus of social, psychological and resource capital, or wait until our options expire?
1. Planning for foundational sustainability: Transitioning quickly to the local.
We can pursue localization, a process compatible with a viable and meaningful existence on a finite planet.
2. Motivating environmental stewardship: Living lightly, now.
We can draw on deeper forms of motivation to promote environmentally responsible behavior, including intrinsic motivation and our fascination with building and maintaining competence.
3. Maintaining human wellness: Using nature, tranquility and activity to enhance well-being.
The transition we must make is crucial and overdue, but hard. Since burned out people can neither heal the planet nor live sustainably, they too must be healed and supported. We can use the powerful effect on human well-being of nearby nature, in all its forms.
1. Localization papers.
2. Motivations supporting durable living.
Behavior and Environment - Introduction to environmental psychology that examines human-environment interactions with a focus on environmental stewardship. Course develops an information processing model of human nature and uses this model to explore human behavior, the settings they prefer and best function in, and how they maintain mental clarity and attentional vitality.
Psychology of Environmental Stewardship - Explores research on psychology of environmental stewardship and creates a toolbox of approaches for promoting durable conservation behavior.
Localization Seminar - Starts with premise that societies soon will have dramatically less energy and materials. Explores scenarios under which industrialized, growth and consumption-oriented societies can rapidly transition to durable living. Seminar focuses on (a) what localization is (we presume that it is already happening), (b) what it can be (both good and bad), and (c) what it should be (if transition is to be peaceful, democratic, and resilient).
De Young, R. (2000). Expanding and evaluating motives for environmentally responsible behavior. In Zelezny, L. and P. W. Schultz [Eds.] Promoting Environmentalism. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 509-526.