When Should Environmental Awareness Be a Policy Goal?

Assessing the Conditions Under Which Raising Awareness Increases Environmental Sustainability and Societal Resilience
  • Karen AkerlofEmail author
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Since the 1970s, governments have increasingly sought to achieve greater environmental awareness among their citizens using “soft” policy instruments like education and pro-social campaigns. The assumption has been that greater awareness among populations would result in changes in individuals’ behaviors, and reduce aggregate effects of environmental degradation in ways that could not easily be addressed through “hard” regulatory or economic instruments. Decades later, governments still invest in environmental campaigns and education, but the evidence for their effects on material improvements to the environment and societal benefits is not always clear. This chapter addresses why this is the case and categorizes the conditions under which governments may be most likely to find environmental awareness to be a rational target in pursuit of improvements in environmental conditions, and society may be most able to meet these challenges.


Risk Perception Public Participation Environmental Awareness Environmental Attitude Civic Participation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thank you to Robert Gifford and Danna Walker for reviewing this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change CommunicationFairfaxUSA

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