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Swedish teachers’ and teacher students’ attitudes towards nature and environment – A survey of attitudes related to ecosystem services

Conference contribution
Authors Eva Nyberg
Dawn Sanders
Mats Hagman
Jan Landström
Niklas Gericke
Birgitta Mc Ewen
Maria Petersson
Pierre Clément
Published in NERA 2014 (Nordic Educational Research Association, 42nd Congress – Education for Sustainable Development), Lillehammer, Norway, 5-7 March, 2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Didactics, Learning


The aim with the paper is to explore Swedish teachers’ and teacher students’ attitudes to nature and environment, related to ecosystem services and to problematize this concept in relation to sustainability. The concept of ecosystem services is a well known concept within environmental work both nationally and internationally (e.g. Constanza et al, 1997). Since 2011 it has also become an issue in the Swedish curriculum for science teaching in compulsory school and upper secondary school, as a way to deal with and develop students' understanding of and respect for nature. Teaching about ecosystem services is in this context, according to the Swedish Board of Education, meant to be one way to provide students with knowledge about nature, the environment and sustainable development. It is therefore of interest to study the attitudes teachers and becoming teachers hold concerning nature and also whether their attitudes reflect a holistic concern for nature, an utilitarian view, or both. Environmental attitudes are often categorized as being either ecocentric or anthropocentric and Munoz, Bogner, Clement and Carvalo (2009), use this categorization in their analysis of teachers’ conceptions of nature and environment. Bonnet (2002), however, argues that a sense of sustainability can be developed which is neither anthropocentric nor ecocentric. The data consists of results from a survey by way of a questionnaire containing 175 questions. The questionnaire was originally constructed within a European project called Biohead-Citizen project (Castéra & Clément, 2012), but was complemented with a number of questions used only in Sweden. This paper is based on 15 of the original questions and two of the questions specifically constructed for Sweden. The sample is in total 377 individuals, and drawn from both in-service teachers and teacher students. Preliminary analysis indicate that the teachers and the teacher students as a group have a rather ecocentric view. Further analysis will be made in order to investigate possible differences between the different categories of teachers and teacher students respectively. The authors conclude with a reflection and problematization regarding the concept of ecosystem services in relation to Education for Sustainable Development.

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