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First-generation college students and climate change: an underreserached and vital relationship

Scholl, Rikayla Joy (2022) First-generation college students and climate change: an underreserached and vital relationship. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Abstract

First-generation college students are rarely researched in their climate change attitudes. Because first-generation students are more likely to come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, they go through their own unique set of challenges when it comes to college and climate change. Inclusivity is a main pillar in climate justice, and more research on minorities and their relationship with climate change is vital envisioning with sustainable solutions. There is little research done on the difference between the way first-generation and continuing-generation view climate change and solutions, even though first-generation students make up a sizable portion of college students. This research was conducted in order to compare the differences, if any, on attitudes on climate change between first-generation students and continuing-generation students attending Northern Arizona University (NAU). To conduct this research a survey was developed for primarily freshman NAU students in order to delve further into attitudes on climate change to draw comparisons between the two groups of students. Also, two focus groups were held, with one containing only freshman first-generation students and the other with only freshman continuing-generation students for comparison. I analyzed literature discussing climate change attitudes, first-generation challenges, empowerment, and higher education institutions to get a full picture of first-generation attitudes. Based on my research, I was able to conclude that there were multiple differences between first-generation students’ attitudes towards climate change than continuing-generation students. Five key differences between the two groups were observed from the focus groups and survey data. This research is limited by small sample sizes for both the survey and focus groups and I recommend that future research be done with a larger, more diverse population. Five recommendations were made to NAU utilizing the data presented and extensive literature review.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: attitudes; climate anxiety; climate change attitudes; college students; continuing-generation; first-generation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Sustainable Communities
Date Deposited: 31 May 2023 17:41
Last Modified: 31 May 2023 17:41
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5931

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