Experts gather to debate international impact of environmental psychology

More than 350 of the world’s leading environmental psychologists are gathering in Plymouth to discuss how social change can have a positive impact on the planet.

The International Conference on Environmental Psychology 2019 is taking place at the University of Plymouth from 4-6 September.

Organised under the auspices of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), it is being co-hosted by the University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter.

With the theme Protecting People and Planet Through Social and Behavioural Science, it will feature a range of talks, symposia and research presentations exploring how the environmental psychology community can best translate its rigorous science into meaningful change.

It will also aim to promote the science and practice of applied psychology and examine ways in which the field can contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The conference attendees will come from 30 different countries, and include leading scholars and practitioners from disciplines such as landscape architecture, environmental economics and environmental policy.

The keynote speakers reflect that international and interdisciplinary nature:

  • Professor Gisela Boehm, Professor for Psychometrics and Research Methods at the University of Bergen: The emotional side of risk – a dual process model of environmental behaviour;
  • Dr Jiaying Zhao, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia: How can behaviour science contribute to sustainability?
  • Professor Susan Clayton, Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology at the College of Wooster: Psychology and climate change: Making the connection;
  • Professor Simon Bell, Chair of Landscape Architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences: Urban acupuncture: how a small change to a landscape can have a big effect on people's health and well-being;
  • Professor Katrin Rehdanz, Director of the Institute for Environmental, Resource and Spatial Economics at the University of Kiel : Wellbeing and the environment: An economic perspective.

Writing in the conference programme Sabine Pahl, Professor of Applied Social Psychology at the University of Plymouth and Secretary of the IAAP Environmental Division, said:

“Many of the world’s biggest threats and challenges are caused by human decisions and behaviours, and environmental psychology is uniquely placed to support individuals and policy makers tackle these challenges. While developing exemplary science in the lab remains a foundation of our discipline, there is also an urgent need to get ‘out of the lab’ and engage directly with the real world problems we face.”

Dr Mathew White, Senior Lecturer in the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, added:

“We need to learn from each other and work together across disciplines if we are going to slow the rate of environmental degradation we are causing, adapt to the damage already done, and instigate programmes to help rectify the situation. If not us – then who; if not now – then when?”

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