‘Pricing Nature at What Price?’ A study of undergraduate students’ conceptions of economics
This paper focuses on undergraduate students’ conceptions of, and learning in, economics. Reviews in the field of environmental education research have made clear that insufficient attention has been paid to the question of learning. In particular, there have been very few empirical investigations into the process (as opposed to the outcomes). There has also been a failure by environmental education researchers to engage with learning theory. Furthermore, it has been concluded that little research conducted within the realm of social science has included issues that relate to the environment in comparison to research in the natural sciences. In the light of this situation, this paper reports findings from a research project on undergraduate students’ learning in economics and environmental science, focusing in particular on conceptions of learning in economics. The results show that, among a group of 11 students entering a masters course on Sustainable Enterprising at Stockholm University, a majority of the students having a major in the natural sciences found economics to be challenging in various ways. All the students addressed the concept of ‘price’ as particularly challenging as it does not give ‘accurate’ value to nature and resources. The paper ends by discussing the students’ conceptions of the subject and reflects on challenges for learning in general when topics and content are found to be in conflict with personal values.
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