Psychologists for Environmental Action

Jack Hughes on a new group to help promote environmentally conscious practices.

Psychology has a potentially huge role to play in combatting climate change. At the end of the day, people are the problem. Whether we’re running companies, behaving unsustainably, or setting policies like creating car free zones in cities, it is people who are going to save or destroy the planet. With that in mind, staff and students in the psychology department at Durham University have created a group: Psychologists for Environmental Action, aka the PEAs! 

We are committed to help promote environmentally conscious practices and raise awareness of the role psychology could play in the fight against climate change. We think that psychology has a responsibility, and the capacity, to help, but we must first ensure our own field is practicing what we preach if we want others to follow suit. Our main areas of interest are currently improving the eco-friendliness of our department and extending our reach to the colleges, University, and the wider Durham community.

We have been working on a variety of interventions. These include encouraging the catering department to provide a vegetarian menu for events, attempting to remove paper submissions for assignments and rewilding the department’s grounds. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are as aware as any of the drastic change that needs to occur if we are to make a real impact. Many departments and organisations within the BPS community may have tested interventions that were or were not successful, and we PEAs would love to hear what our fellow psychologists have done or are planning to do, and to share some of our experiences so far and going forward.

As part of our endeavour, we have launched and will host a new series of ‘PEA Talks’ by psychologists and likeminded individuals discussing their climate change research and work. The first of these was by members of UCL and their famous PALS department, which is available to all on our new YouTube channel. We have plenty more talks lined up and are very keen to hear from anyone who may like to give an informal talk or share their work or thoughts with us as part of this series.

We also want to know what you think psychology’s role should be in addressing the climate crisis – whether you’re an advocate of Sunstein and Thaler’s libertarian paternalistic approach, or you think we should take a more advisory capacity or you think individuals should make their own decisions without any influence from our field, we would love to hear from you.

If you want to know more, or are interested in collaborating, sharing or presenting ideas, or just having a chat, then please email us at [email protected], or check out our social media accounts – we’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We look forward to hearing from you and growing the PEAs initiative with help from our fellow psychologists! 

Jack Hughes
PhD Candidate in Behavioural Science
Durham University
[email protected]

Find much more on climate change in our archive.

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