ACCOUNTABILITY OF FCS EDUCATION TO A SUSTAINABILITY ETHOS: FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION

ACCOUNTABILITY OF FCS EDUCATION TO A SUSTAINABILITY ETHOS: FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION

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chapter one

introduction

1.1              Background of the study

Promoting sustainable consumption and production are important aspects of sustainable development, which depends on achieving long-term economic growth that is consistent with environmental and social needs. Most government policies in this area focus on stemming the environmental impacts of unsustainable industrial production practices, primarily through regulations and taxes (Musfirah, 2011). Promoting sustainable consumption is equally important to limit negative environmental and social externalities as well as to provide markets for sustainable products. In this study, sustainable refers to both the environmental (pollution, waste, resource use) and social (health, welfare) characteristics of products. It focuses on consumption by households and governments. It discusses government tools and instruments (e.g. standards, taxes, subsidies, communications campaigns, education) put in place to encourage sustainable consumption. It also discusses approaches for protecting consumers from misleading information on sustainability in areas such as labelling, advertising and corporate reporting. The trend towards considering the social dimensions of sustainable consumption has led to more attention to how products are produced (Jamilah, Shuhaida & Nurzali, 2015). Consumers are increasingly concerned with not only the polluting or health effects of the consumption of products, but also the impacts which that consumption may have on the factors of production, including workers and resources. As a result, sustainable consumption policies and initiatives are broadening to take into account the effects of processes as well as products and the provision of services as well as goods. Increasingly sophisticated approaches are being used by governments to target policies to consumer groups based on better understanding of social and economic behaviour. Mixes of instruments tend to be more effective in promoting sustainable consumption in certain product groups. The complexity and array of government tools and initiatives directed at sustainable consumption underline the need for more integrated programmes as well as institutionalisation of sustainable consumption in sustainable development strategies (Emanuel, 2010). The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences’ (AAFCS) brand, “creating healthy and sustainable families,” implies accountability in promoting sustainable consumer behavior. This study compared students majoring in family and consumer sciences (FCS) and its specializations to those majoring in other fields on constructs of perceived consequences of sustainable consumption, ethical obligation, and learning about sustainability as well as of their behavioral intention toward sustainable consumption.

1.2       Statement of the problem

The issue of sustainable consumption has been the subject of growing interest since the conclusion of the Rio De Janeiro, Earth summit in June 1992. The major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption, particularly in industrialized countries, which is a matter of grave concern, aggravating poverty and imbalances.    Over the past decade, public surveys have consistently shown a public concern about the emergence of a consumer society and its focus on satisfying individual wants, as the dominant set of societal values.

However, the emerging field of environmental education for sustainable consumption has at least two serious, interrelated problems, which need to be tackled by educators. The first is the polemic surrounding the relationships between consumption patterns and income distribution. More specifically, this problem is grounded in issues of equity in the distribution of wealth and of global shifts towards sustainability policies and processes and the ramifications these issues have with respect to taking responsibility for environmental deterioration. Connections can be made to different patterns of consumption between nations, which compete under unequal economic conditions, as well as between the economic elite and the population masses within each country. The second problem facing educators interested in promoting environmental education for sustainable consumption finds us in the area of developing appropriate pedagogical strategies.

1.3       Objective of the study

The general objective of this study is to examine the accountability of fcs education to a sustainability ethos: focus on sustainable consumption.

            Specific objectives of this study are:

1.      To determine the difference between gender and consumption behaviou

2.      To determine the difference FCS and non-FCS students in their consumption behaviour.

3.      To examine education for sustainable development knowledge and sustainable consumption Practices

4.      To determine the sustainable consumption behaviour exhibited by these young consumers

1.4       Research questions

1.      What is the difference between gender and consumption behavior?

2.      What is the difference between FCS and non-FCS students in their consumption behavior?

3.      What is the relationship between education for sustainable development knowledge and sustainable consumption practices?

4.      What is the level of sustainable consumption behaviour exhibited by these young consumers?

1.5       Research hypotheses

1.      There is no significant difference between gender and consumption behavior?

2.      There is no significant difference between FCS and non-FCS students in their consumption behavior?

3.      There is significant relationship between education for sustainable development knowledge and sustainable consumption practices?

1.6       Significance of the study

This study will expose the difference between FCS and non-FCS students in their consumption behavior, difference between gender and consumption behavior and the relationship between education for sustainable development knowledge and sustainable consumption practices.  This study will help FCS policymakers weave a sustainability perspective into the National Standards for Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences in response to the increasing government, business, and academic emphasis on sustainable development. It will also identify gaps which would be recommended for correction. It will also provide reference material for the academic society as well as further research.


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