An Introductory Examination of Worldviews and Why They Matter for Environmental and Sustainability Studies



A worldview is a complex cognitive and affective lens through which a person sees and interprets the world, including human-environment relationships. Examining worldviews is relevant to environmental and sustainability studies, in part, because they influence a person’s environmentally related decisions and divergent worldviews create conflict about environmental problems and solutions. Using physical glasses that make an abstract concept more concrete, the activity described in this chapter introduces students to worldviews and their links to environmental and sustainability issues through informal, open-ended, exploratory dialogue, catalyzed by the examination of four individuals’ hypothetical worldviews as playful case studies. The activity’s goal is to help students realize that everyone has a unique worldview that emerges from personal experiences, such that we should resist temptations to make assumptions about them or judge them too quickly. After completing this activity, students should be able to (1) describe what a worldview is and its many dimensions, (2) ask questions that help reveal dimensions of a person’s worldview, (3) discuss how worldviews influence people’s environmental and sustainability perspectives, (4) explain why examining worldviews is a valuable part of environmental and sustainability studies, and (5) reflect on one’s own worldview and the factors that have shaped it.


Worldviews Environmental behavior Sustainability beliefs Learner-centered teaching 

Supplementary material

328621_1_En_4_MOESM1_ESM.docx (797 kb)
4_Byrne_ESM-A-C (DOCX 798 kb)
328621_1_En_4_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (2.5 mb)
4_Byrne_ESM-B (PPTX 2515 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Marine Biology & Environmental ScienceRoger Williams UniversityBristolUSA

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