Campus Sustainability Office

Cognition (how we think about and perceive issues)

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How we think about life and the world around us is determined by the sum total of our life experiences. These include the cultural, economic, political and norms we are socialized in, our families structure and the diversity of our peer groups, and the formal and informal education we receive. No matter what society or group we belong to, our individual views are based and biased by our experiences. Naturally then, our decision making abilities can be swayed by family, friends, education, and society to serve a particular set of values and agendas. Sometimes we make decisions that are not in our own or our community’s best interests.

Understanding how these cognitive blinders, filters, and traps operate is key to understanding why people sometimes oppose actions that may be good for them and embrace those that are bad for them. For instance, education can help to correct some of the cognitive biases that hinder sustainability. Below are some of the relevant psychological and philosophical concepts that should be considered in order to successfully teach sustainability.

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