by BJ Marcus, AM Omoto, PL Winter
Understanding how racial or ethnic communities view environmentalism contributes to unique perceptions of environmental issues. A study was conducted in which possible pathways to environmental engagement in racial or ethnic communities were examined. Participants described their conceptualizations of environmentalism and community, and experiences they may have had in natural outdoor areas. In order to explore possible connections between conceptualizations, participants were given a cognitive mapping exercise which is a method to help recall important features of their environment. Ideas involving environmentalism prioritized beliefs on social responsibility and environmental protection. Participants viewed community in different ways, although most viewed it as a social unit that connected people while also engendering their shared values. Most participants did not report ethnicity as an essential force affecting environmentalism. Most participants did identify with a specific ethnic community, although the white participants appeared to struggle more with the concept. The conceptual content cognitive mapping process demonstrated the various ways and interconnections in which participants understood the relevant concepts and their associations. The investigation revealed valuable insights on connections between concepts and unique perceptions of environmental issues. The study’s findings have the potential to encourage both social and environmental action, as they demonstrate how perceptions of social issues are complex, interconnected, and molded from numerous concepts.