College of Aces host #AskAces Twitter Q&A

By Jessica Berbey, Staff Writer

The College of ACES hosted an online Q&A from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday via Twitter using #askACES.

Dr. Carena J. van Riper, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, addressed the psychology of behavior changes in parks and protected areas.

The first participant asked how Americans see environmental stewardship compared to other cultures or places.

“Cultural cognition suggests that people in the US tend to be more individualistic (although we are very diverse),” she tweeted.

Van Riper also said that Americans may tend to feel morally obligated to act as stewards of natural resources, and that many of the stewardship tendencies may be rooted in the vast array of public spaces and lands the U.S. oversees.

One participant asked what recent innovations or advances in tools or techniques are helpful for understanding human behavior, van Riper said that structural equation modeling has transformed the understanding of psychological processes and behavior change.

Someone asked what funding sources should be chased by future environmental projects, and how today’s changing political climate will affect that.

Van Riper responded with: “Tough question. We’ll need to be creative and do what we can to take action and advocate the change we want to see.”

She also responded to a question of how an average person can help protect parks: she said that any little act can help. 

“Everyday behavior like writing letters to political representatives, volunteering, talking with other people, and turning off your lights makes a difference that can cumulatively contribute to environmental protection.”

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