University of Notre Dame

Sustainability Psychology and Practice: Persuasion, Nudges, and Ecological Attachment

Course Number: PSY 13181-4
Instructor: Darcia Narvaez

The course has three foci. First, students will learn the psychology of nudging people to behave in environmentally-responsible ways. We examine relevant research that has been performed within environmental psychology but also in areas in other areas of psychology. Students will design their own intervention. Second, students will learn about persuasive communication and employ it in writing a letter to the editor, letters to congressional representatives. Third, we also focus on self-development. Students link knowledge about sustainability with their own life attitudes and practices. Wendell Berry, ecological activist and poet, suggested that reasoning and facts are not sufficient for making the dispositional and behavioral shifts needed for living sustainably and respectfully with earth’s ecological systems and other-than-human entities. He pointed to the need for “affection.” Students will learn and practice the types of mindsets needed for living sustainably (e.g., indigenous), explore sustainable-living behaviors (e.g., purchasing local food, especially vegetables, and cooking together), and build ecological attachment (e.g., through outdoor experiences).