Fostering environmental education within university foodservice
Background: In order to foster environmental education effectively, the universities need to implement environmental education in all areas, not just in the classroom. Environmental education encompasses knowledge and experience in teaching about how to care for the environment. University foodservices have the potential to foster environmental education outside the classroom. Understanding foodservice staff viewpoints is critical for engaging them in implementing environmental education in universities.Objective: The research question was: do university foodservice staff think their workplace has the potential to foster environmental education? To answer this question, the objectives were two-fold. Firstly, the study sought to understand dominant viewpoints held amongst New Zealand university foodservice staff about the realities and desirability of fostering environmental education in their workplace. Secondly, to further understand these perspectives, this research sought to find the prevalence of the viewpoints and to profile them.Design: Q methodology, a mixed methods approach to understanding dominant shared sets of perspectives, was used to determine a range of foodservice staff perspectives on environmental education. The study design integrated two phases. The first phase involved preliminary interviews with foodservice stakeholders and a card sorting activity to generate a series of viewpoints called factors. The second phase used the factors generated by phase one to develop a survey to determine the prevalence of perspectives in a wider national population of university foodservice staff. The survey also included behavioural scales, such as the New Ecological Paradigm scale (NEP) which measured pro-environmental orientation.Results: Phase one revealed four dominant perspectives (factors). They included: The “Believer”, the “Relatively Positive Integrator”, the “Uncertain Contender” and the “Skeptic”. Phase one included 36 participants, the group included 47% male, 19% female and 53% came from residential halls and 47% came from campus food outlets. The 60 university foodservice staff that responded to the national survey included 58% female, 42% male and 85% came from residential hall foodservices. 25% of survey participants identified with the Believer narrative, 40% the Relatively Positive Integrator, 25% the Uncertain Contender and 10% the Skeptic. The New Ecological Paradigm scores were rated from a scale of 1-5 where five was the most positive score. The scores (from order of factors as above) included 3.7, 3.6, 3.4 and 3.2. There were no significant differences between factors for sociodemographic characteristics. Most statistical differences of all survey categories were found between the Believer and the Skeptic.Conclusion: The results show that although differing views on environmental education exist, there are two main factors that are significantly different ( Believers and Skeptics). The Skeptic disrupts common perspectives of environmental education, but this group was the lowest representing group in the survey. A common language of sustainability is vital in order for universities to foster environmental education successfully. So, this study gives hope for a common language of sustainability in university foodservice staff. However, university foodservices may need a paradigm shift in foodservice frameworks to enable environmental education to integrate with other foodservice outcomes.
Advisor: Mirosa, Miranda; Thomson, Carla
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Foodservice; Q-methodology; Perspectives; environment; education
Research Type: Thesis