Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Thesis Type

Honors College, Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis, College of Arts and Science Honors

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Rachelle K. Gould

Second Advisor

Amy Seidl

Keywords

eco-anxiety, Climate Generation, action, resilience, self-efficacy, environmental organizations

Abstract

Ecological (eco) anxiety, or climate anxiety, is an indirect psychological impact of climate change. It is a specific form of anxiety relating to the distress caused by our knowledge of negative environmental changes and can be used to describe the range of emotions and mental states derived from this knowledge. This interview-based thesis research seeks to understand if action through involvement with environmental organizations at the University of Vermont (UVM) serves as an antidote for eco-anxiety among members of The Climate Generation. The Climate Generation refers to people born between the 1990s and the early 2000s and is of particular interest as a population to study because it is the first generation whose members have spent their entire lives with climate change’s effects, and it is the most well positioned to address the challenge and work towards building transformative solutions. Interview subjects for this research range from age 18 to age 21 and were recruited from six environmental organizations at UVM. This research seeks to expand upon the psychological components of climate response, resilience and action, elements less well studied than policy or ecological impact. The findings suggest that action through environmental organizations does serve as an antidote for eco-anxiety among members of the Climate Generation at UVM for a variety of reasons, namely in their ability to cultivate self and community efficacy. Further, the cultivation of emotional resilience appears to be a crucial component of this relationship.

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