Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

Amy Seidl

Second Advisor

Rachelle Gould

Third Advisor

Alice Fothergill


eco-anxiety, climate emotions, affective education, environmental education, climate psychology, undergraduate


This undergraduate senior thesis focuses on the mental health effects of learning about climate change in a college environment and students’ ability to cope with these effects. Specifically, this research asks if increased understanding about climate change makes a student more or less able to cope with the psychological impacts of climate knowledge. Anxiety, grief, and despair can impede climate action, and for a younger generation who is facing the greatest environmental challenge to date, it is vital that they are well-prepared to cope with their climate emotions in a way that does not prevent them from making change. I surveyed and conducted a focus group of sophomores and seniors majoring in both environmental science and environmental studies at the University of Vermont (UVM) about their prevailing emotions surrounding climate change, how their environmental classes affect their emotions, and if they have coping strategies to navigate negative emotions. While this study is centered on the student experience and does not intend to order professors to teach their classes in a certain way, the data prompts several considerations about affective preparedness in environmental education.