Why, when all evidence points to the growing threats of climate change, is it so difficult to create movement toward addressing it? Why, when we have so much evidence that vaccines reduce illness and death and are extremely safe, do individuals still choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children? What if I told you that the scientific evidence does not matter? Over the last few decades, not better education, nor guilt, nor fear has worked to produce change on important environmental and public health issues. In this class, we will explore different factors contributing to why scientific evidence doesn't matter for individual behaviors or policies we support. We will especially consider how values, beliefs, emotions, and identity shape how we receive and process information and make decisions. We will explore themes of moral worldview, cognitive linguistics and framing, cognitive dissonance, risk perception, empathy, habit changes, bungles in messaging, difficult dialoguing, collective action, and evidence-based policy through the examples of climate change and vaccination. Course activities will consist of regular reading, some online research, reflective journaling at home, and engaging in conversation during class. There are no pre-requisites, but the class is designed to target upper level students in environmental majors and pre-health studies; the reading and journaling time and effort is aligned with the upper-level elective designation.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU BA; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC