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The Fear of Not Flying: Achieving Sustainable Academic Plane Travel in Higher Education Based on Insights from South Australia

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Department of Geography, Environment and Population, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, SA, Australia
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Department of Media, School of Humanities, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, SA, Australia
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Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, SA, Australia
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School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, SA, Australia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2694; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092694
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 24 April 2019 / Accepted: 30 April 2019 / Published: 12 May 2019
Universities are both disseminators and producers of the climate knowledge needed to institute the social and cultural change required for climate adaptation and mitigation to occur. They also have the opportunity to lead and model pro-environmental behavior, yet often have large carbon budgets, partly caused by staff travel. This paper explores this topic via an institutional case study of what factors motivate the academic community to undertake plane travel and the implications this has for wielding wider societal influence in terms of pro-environmental behavior. We report on a year-long qualitative social science study of academic plane travel at the University of Adelaide, South Australia where we investigated the tension between academic requirements to travel and the institution’s formal commitment to sustainability within the Campus Sustainability Plan. We found that, while many academics were worried about climate change, very few were willing to change their current practice and travel less because they are not institutionally incentivized to do so. There is a fear of not flying: plane travel is perceived as a key driver for career progression and this is an ongoing barrier to pro-environmental behavior. We conclude that institutional and political change will be required for individual change to occur and sustainable agendas to be met within academic communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; aeromobility; pro-environmental behavior; academics; attitude-behavior gap climate change; aeromobility; pro-environmental behavior; academics; attitude-behavior gap
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Nursey-Bray, M.; Palmer, R.; Meyer-Mclean, B.; Wanner, T.; Birzer, C. The Fear of Not Flying: Achieving Sustainable Academic Plane Travel in Higher Education Based on Insights from South Australia. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2694.

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