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Title:The roles of education for sustainable development and Namibian youth in the advancement of sustainable household cooking energy
Author(s):Lindgren, Samantha Bonnell
Director of Research:Elliott-Litchfield, J. Bruce
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Elliott-Litchfield, J. Bruce
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hansen, Alan; Rodriguez, Luis; Bond, Tami; Johnson, Timothy
Department / Program:Engineering Administration
Discipline:Agricultural & Biological Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sustainable Energy
Education for Sustainable Development
Abstract:Improved and efficient cooking is a popular solution in the international development community for its presence in multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, in the last forty years of cookstove research and dissemination programs, adoption and sustained use have failed to meet expectations in low- and middle-income countries. Among the known barriers that limit adoption is effective communication. Rarely are all stakeholders within a home purposefully engaged in activities meant to support initial cookstove uptake and long-term use. Situated in rural Namibia, two studies were undertaken to examine household energy consumption patterns and the agentive capacity of youth in influencing energy-related behaviors and decisions within the home, and across communities. A stratified survey of two rural communities, and a series of surveys given to one thousand Namibian children who attended a weeklong Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) program, point to the importance of the inclusion of youth in energy development efforts. Conducted in collaboration with the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) these studies examine how ESD-focused programming for youth changes their environmental- and energy-related knowledge and attitudes, and their ability to affect change within their own homes and communities. Findings indicate that the topics taught to youth at NaDEET not only increase the children’s awareness and sensitivity to environmental and energy-related issues, but also those of their family members’. The transmission of knowledge and attitudes leads to positive changes community-wide. Households that have a family member with prior experience with NaDEET’s programming are significantly more knowledgeable and receptive to sustainable energy topics, including solar cooking, as compared to a control group. Further, these households also exhibit a higher degree of electric cookstove adoption, and are less committed to their open fires, than similar households. For homes unable to afford electricity, the evidence suggests that NaDEET’s influence shifts attitudes and increases knowledge related to sustainable energy, in the absence of a behavior change. ESD was found to be an effective tool for communicating about energy-related topics to communities via youth education. In addition to improved energy- and sustainability-related attitudes and knowledge, students exhibit a significant increase in preferences for cleaner cooking fuels (e.g., electricity, gas, solar) after spending a week at the camp. Youth from households that primarily rely on firewood for cooking demonstrate the largest increase. Further, preliminary findings from a six-month follow-up study indicate that these gains hold, pointing to the long-term benefits of this educational experience. Taken together, the results of the two studies indicate that youth-oriented ESD has the potential to shift energy attitudes and behaviors, generationally and at the community level. The explicit inclusion of youth as a stakeholder is a new area of energy development research and has broad implications for the ways in which sustainability-related education is incorporated into behavior change communication frameworks for efficient cookstove and energy development programs.
Issue Date:2020-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Samantha Bonnell Lindgren
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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