Skip to main content

Safeguarding the enthusiasm for environmental studies: small is even more beautiful than before


Several strategies ought to be considered to reduce the disillusionment and potentially paralyzing impact of the current political climate and anti-environmental stance of the US administration, which risk diminishing both environmental activism and the attractiveness of environmental studies courses. Examples demonstrate the potentials for refocusing both environmental activism and education on subnational levels, broadening the appeal of participation in environmental groups by bolstering socio-emotive rewards, capitalizing on the increasing convergence of environmental and corporate interests through internships, and linking environmental education more closely with subjects less vulnerable to the current mood. Additional efforts could be focused on bringing conservatives into environmental activism through a reorientation of environmental communications to correspond more closely to their interests (e.g., hunting and its dependence on habitat conservation) and their distinctive moral-value orientations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Adelman D, Engel K (2008) Adaptive federalism: the case against reallocating environmental regulatory authority. Minnesota Law Rev 92:1796–1850

    Google Scholar 

  • Aron P (2001) Youth activism and global engagement: part II global interdependence initiative

  • Ascher D, Ascher W (2016) Inducing better stakeholder searches for environmental information relevant to coastal conservation. In: MacDonald B, Soomai S, De Santo E, Wells P (eds) Science, information, and policy interface for effective coastal and ocean management. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 153–174

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Ascher W, Steelman T (2006) Valuation in the environmental policy process. Policy Sci 39(1):73–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bandura A (1991) Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action. In: William Kurtines W, Gewirtz J (eds) Handbook of moral behavior and development, volume 1: theory. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, pp 45–103

    Google Scholar 

  • Bem D (1967) Self-perception: an alternative explanation of cognitive dissonance. Psychol Rev 7:183–200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bliese J (1997) Traditionalist conservatism and environmental ethics. Environ Ethics 19(2):135–151

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buzbee W (2007) Asymmetrical regulation: risk, preemption, and the floor/ceiling distinction. N Y Univ Law Rev 82:1547–1619

    Google Scholar 

  • Carlson A (2009) Iterative federalism and climate change. Northwest Univ Law Rev 103:1097–1162

    Google Scholar 

  • Ducks Unlimited (2017) Climate change and waterfowl

  • Esty D (1996) Revitalizing environmental federalism. Michigan Law Rev 95:570–653

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Feinberg M, Willer R (2013) The moral roots of environmental attitudes. Psychol Sci 24(1):56–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glicksman R, Levy R (2008) A collective action perspective on ceiling preemption by federal environmental regulation: the case of global climate change. Northwest Univ Law School Rev 102:579–648

    Google Scholar 

  • Graham J, Haidt J, Nosek B (2009) Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. J Pers Soc Psychol 96:1029–1046

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haidt J, Graham J (2007) When morality opposes justice: conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Soc Justice Res 20(1):98–116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lasswell H, McDougal M (1992) Jurisprudence for a free society. New Haven Press, New Havwn

    Google Scholar 

  • National Rifle Association (2007) NRA comments on proposed rule to list polar bear as threatened species, April 9.

  • NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) (2014) About NRDC.

  • Osofsky H (2013) The geography of solving global environmental problems: reflections on polycentric efforts to address climate change. N Y Law School Law Rev 58:777–827

    Google Scholar 

  • Prothro J, Grigg C (1960) Fundamental principles of democracy: bases of agreement and disagreement. J Polit 22(2):276–294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Revesz R (1992) Rehabilitating interstate competition: rethinking the “race-to-the-bottom” rationale for federal environmental regulation. N Y Univ Law Rev 67:1210–1255

    Google Scholar 

  • Schapiro R (2005) Toward a theory of interactive federalism. Iowa Law Rev 91:243–318

    Google Scholar 

  • Sigman H (2005) Transboundary spillovers and decentralization of environmental policies. J Environ Econ Manag 50(1):82–101

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spence D (2013) Federalism, regulatory lags, and the political economy of energy production. Univ Pennsylvania Law Rev 16:431–508

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to William Ascher.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ascher, W. Safeguarding the enthusiasm for environmental studies: small is even more beautiful than before. J Environ Stud Sci 8, 104–109 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Environmental education
  • Pro-environmental promotion
  • Climate-change doubters
  • Subnational governance