This course examines trends in environmental public opinion, influences on people's concerns about the environment, the depth and strength of concerns, and how environmental concerns affect personal behaviors and the political process. Also covered are the role of the media in shaping environmental public opinion, the linkages between environmental values and core social values; race, class, gender, and intergenerational differences in environmental opinion and what implications such differences have for society. In addition, we will be making cross-national comparisons and explore the reasons why environmental concern appears to have become a worldwide phenomenon. Based on the understandings developed in the course, we will attempt to predict where environmental opinion is likely to head in the future and assess its potential for affecting political and social change.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of environmental public opinion, this course is intended to introduce students to useful statistical concepts and procedures for analyzing and interpreting public opinion data. Students will be given hands on experience with statistical software packages, such as SPSS, to analyze publicly available data sets, such as the General Social Surveys (GSS). No prior knowledge or experience with statistical methods is required. The course will serve as an introduction to statistical concepts and give students an opportunity to learn how statistical methods are used to interpret and understand public opinion and other social data. We will be talking about the use and interpretation of statistical results throughout the term. Beginning with about the 6th week, we will work as a class in one of the campus computer labs.
SPECIAL FOCUS FOR THIS SEMESTER: PUBLIC OPINION ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN THIS NOVEMBER'S ELECTIONS.