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Teaching Sustainability in Psychology

Teaching about psychology offers abundant opportunities to incorporate sustainability into the classroom. Sustainability topics are a natural fit with related themes in psychology such as global warming, ethics, resource management and more.

Sustainability issues are inherently interdisciplinary. See the Resources & Discussions page for resources that span multiple disciplines and the Disciplinary Perspectives pages.

Exploring Sustainability through Psychology

Most scientists recognize that human behavior is the main cause of today's climate crisis. Understanding that behavior, and learning how to change it, is one of our best hopes for a solution. Psychology can help people:

Sustainability and Psychology for the Undergraduate Curriculum

Journal/Journal Articles

American Psychologist publishes special issue on climate change. From Psychological Science Agenda (June 2011), a publication of the APA Science Directorate.

The May-June 2011 special issue of the American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association, focused on "Psychology and Global Climate Change." The issue contained seven peer-reviewed articles that were based upon and update the contents of a 2009 APA task force report on Psychology and Global Climate Change. The issue can be accessed through APA's PsycNET website.

Psychological science's contributions to a sustainable environment: Extending our reach to a grand challenge of society. Kazdin, A.E. (2009). Psychological science's contributions to a sustainable environment: Extending our reach to a grand challenge of society. American Psychologist, 64(5), 339-356.

This article outlines how psychological science can play a critical role in addressing the problems of climate change by fostering a sustainable environment.

Newsletter Articles

Eco-I-O Psychology? Expanding Our Goals to Include Sustainability, Campbell, J. Elliott; Campbell, David E., October 2005, The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist.
An article about the importance of sustainability in industrial and organizational psychology.

A Call for I-O Leadership in "Going Green", DuBois, Cathy L. Z.; DuBois, David A., October 2010, The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist.
An editorial about how to begin integrating sustainability into industrial-organizational psychology.

"Working" Through Environmental Issues: The Role of the I-O Psychologist, Huffman, Ann H. et al., October 2009, The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist.
A post-symposium report on why sustainability should be integrated into industrial-organizational psychology.

Other Resources

Managing Human Resources for Environmental Sustainability, Jackson, Susan E.; Ones, Deniz S.; Dilchert, Stephan; 2012, Jossey-Bass.
This textbook discusses how businesses can respond to public pressure to be more "green" by changing their human resources management strategies.

Society's Grand Challenges - Insights from Psychological Science: Global Climate Change, American Psychological Association.
A booklet from the APA about integrating psychology with the life sciences.

APA Resolution on Affirming Psychologists' Role in Addressing Global Climate Change
A 2011 APA resolution reaffirming its recognition of the importance of psychological aspects of human environment relations.

Psychologists Teaching Sustainability

Teaching Psychology for Sustainability, Scott, Britain A. and Koger, Susan M., September 2006.
An online collection of syllabi, lecture/discussion topics, activities, suggested readings for students and references.

Organizations and Institutes with Additional Resources

Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology (APA Division 34)
The Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology (APA Division 34) is a society of behavioral researchers and practitioners who conduct and apply research and advance theory to improve interactions between humans and our natural and built environments.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (APA Division 14)
The mission of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (APA Division 14) is to enhance human well-being and performance in organizational and work settings by promoting the science, practice, and teaching of industrial-organizational psychology.

International Association for Applied Psychology
The website for the IAAP, the oldest international association for psychologists. Their mission is "...to promote the science and practice of applied psychology and to facilitate interaction and communication about applied psychology around the world."

Continuing Education and Networking

APA Convention
The annual APA Convention features hundreds of sessions on psychology, including sessions sponsored by APA Divisions 14 and 34.

Other Conferences on Sustainability
The Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology (APA Division 34) provides a listing of conferences on sustainability and climate change.



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