Introducing Interdisciplinary Curricula Into Conservation Biology: Exploring Changes in Students’ Perceived Proenvironmental Attitudes and Behaviors
Today, conserving the natural environment is paramount. Educators have been striving to develop pedagogical approaches that facilitate greater engagement in conservation behaviors. However, many of these reforms have been targeted at an institutional level, without necessarily testing whether changes in proenvironmental perceptions, attitudes, or behaviors occur for students. This step seems important when developing conservation biology courses that provide well-rounded education that may better prepare students for future challenges in biodiverse conservation contexts. Our objective was to assess the proenvironmental attitudes and conservation values of undergraduate students enrolled in an undergraduate conservation biology course before and after instruction to determine whether a multidisciplinary curriculum, in conjunction with traditional conservation biology content, would alter their perceptions. Students in both the control and intervention groups felt relatively neutral about a range of environmental and conservation topics. No statistical significance between curricula and impact on student perception was revealed. However, in the experimental course, shifts were found concerning students’ understanding of the complexity of conservation. Results also highlight long-standing issues related to conservation education, such as a bias toward mammal conservation, and suggest that guest lectures are insufficient to bring about attitude change related to sustainability. Further research on incorporating cross-disciplinary pedagogy into STEM courses is recommended.