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4.1 Individual Values Regarding Sustainability

Sustainable development can be represented as a statement of values or moral principles unique to each individual which influence how that individual views the world. Byrch et al. (2007) explored the meaning of sustainable development held by 21 New Zealand thought leaders who were promoting either sustainability, business, or sustainable business. Those who promoted sustainable development emphasized limits to the Earth's resources, humanity's dependency on the environment, providing now for future generations, and the environmental domain. These ideas are similar to the NEP (see Sect. 2.2.1). Individuals who promoted business generally emphasized the economic domain, focused on how things should be, stressed that a healthy growing economy precedes environmental and social improvement, and expressed faith that economic growth could achieve sustainable development. Those who promoted sustainable business showed a combined emphasis on the environmental domain and the achievement of sustainable development, a focus on problems and solutions, and a mix of less radical solutions to achieve sustainable development. Common across the groups was the belief that humanity should benefit from sustainable development and the lack of an expressed concern for social equity and the world's poor.

Byrch et al. (2007) based their work on the cognitive framework or theory of

knowledge described by Kenneth Boulding who argues that a person's behavior is largely governed by his or her subjective knowledge structure or image. An image is similar to schema, a more common term in the communication, psychology, and cognitive science literatures. The schema concept first appeared in Frederic Bartlett's learning theory and was later popularized by Jean Piaget in his theory of the intellectual development stages children go through. Schemata are mental structures we use to organize categories of information, create relationships among the categories, and process incoming information. Messages are received as information and filtered through a person's schemata. What an individual knows about sustainable development and what he or she says about it is the product of his or her culture and personal experiences filtered through a personal worldview which includes values, attitudes, and beliefs and is held in his or her schemata. So let's look more closely into values, attitudes, and beliefs.

 
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