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An environmental assessment activity to promote active distance learning and challenge of personal lifestyles and values

By Sally Crompton, Sally Caird and Robin Roy


This paper introduces a new distance learning course, 'Working with our Environment: Technology for a Sustainable Future'. An inter-disciplinary team within the Technology Faculty of the Open University developed this undergraduate course, which enrols over 1500 students per year. One of the overall aiims is to help students understand how the use of technology to meet human material needs contributes to environmental effects. The process of producing this course, its philosophy, aims and design will be briefly discussed.\ud \ud At the start of the course a lifestyle environmental assessment activity, called EcoCal, is intergrated within students’ study materials. The activity enables students to assess the main impacts on the environment arising from their own household’s consumption of energy, transport, food and water and production of waste. Through the use, either of a printed questionnaire or publicly available software, students can calculate their ‘Ecological Footprint’ and then consider and model the effects of changes to their lifestyle. Through the combination of undertaking this activity and submitting an appropriate assignment, students are encouraged to think critically and creatively about their impacts on the environment and how these might be reduced at both individual and societal levels. At the end of the course students were surveyed to explore whether their attitudes and behaviour had changed

Year: 2001
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Provided by: Open Research Online

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