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The Effects of Carbon Footprint Calculation on Student Trip Leaders

The Effects of Carbon Footprint Calculation on Student Trip Leaders

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Published by Keith Crawford

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Keith Crawford on May 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/02/2013

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EFFECTS OF CARBON FOOTPRINT CALCULATION1 The Effects of Carbon Footprint Calculation on Student Trip Leaders: A Pilot StudyLee Collette and Keith CrawfordAppalachian State University
 
EFFECTS OF CARBON FOOTPRINT CALCULATION2AbstractThe purpose of this pilot study is to conduct an in-depth investigation of thecharacteristics and possible relationship between having University-Sponsored Outdoor Program(OP) student leaders calculate the carbon footprint of an OP trip and the decisions they makewhile planning that trip. The decisions the researchers focused on are the distance traveled andfood choices. This intervention may be useful to other programs at colleges and universitiesacross the United States as a means of promoting environmentally sustainable programsthroughout the outdoor recreation industry.Researchers collected archival data from the previous academic year to calculatecarbon footprint data prior to any intervention. To encourage student trip leaders to analyze theecological impacts of their proposed trips, a carbon footprint calculator was included with all trip proposal forms in the fall of 2011. The trip proposal form has been in use at OP since the 2010-2011 school year and collects basic trip details (such as destination, meals, and travel needs),which makes it a logical place to have trip staff begin to think about the carbon footprint of their trip. The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and other variables were compared to those of the previous semesters’ proposed trips. Data analysis revealed significantly lower average carbonfootprints for the post-intervention semester. A -47.1% magnitude of change from the fall 2010semester and a -54.9% magnitude of change from the spring 2011 semester.Researchers also investigated the environmental attitudes of student trip leaderscompared to those of a representative sample of students. Online surveys using the NewEcological Paradigm (NEPR) (Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig & Jones, 2000) were used to makethis comparison. The analysis of the surveys revealed that student trip leaders had a slightlylower NEPR scores than the control group.
 
EFFECTS OF CARBON FOOTPRINT CALCULATION3 To provide insight into the quantitative results from survey responses studenttrip leaders were invited to a focus group. Major trends from these groups included: study participants feeling that there was a positive impact (sustainably speaking) on their trip proposalsas a result of completing the carbon footprint calculation, OP should continue the practice of having student trip leaders calculate carbon footprints for proposed trips, and lastly that aneducational workshop would have been beneficial prior to the trip proposal so that they wouldhave a better understanding of why they were calculating carbon footprint.If outdoor professionals proclaim to be stewards for the environment, then howcan college outdoor programs begin to create awareness in staff about their impacts on theenvironment? The authors believe educating student trip leaders in the early stages of their development will lead to a ripple effect of positive changes within and beyond the outdoor industry. This pilot study will provide insight into educational interventions with OP studentleaders and methods to measure carbon footprint of university sponsored OP trips.
 Keywords
: carbon footprint, college outdoor program, environmental attitude,environmental sustainability

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