The current global environmental crisis with a range of global environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution makes environmental citizenship a necessity. Empowering people to become environmental citizens is crucial for addressing current environmental issues and a necessary condition of sustainability, which is identified as one of the European and global priorities [1
]. Citizenship in general and, more specifically, environmental citizenship in its various forms (and terminology) have a long tradition in educational literature. Citizenship, originally derived from the political arena, is a political concept that determines the relationship of the individual to the state in which the individual is a member and draws the framework of these relationships. Citizenship education curricula in many societies came to include environmental protection in citizenship education. According to Cheah and Huang [2
], out of the 42 national and local education systems in Europe, environmental protection is included in citizenship education curricula in 24 education systems at the primary school level, 21 education systems at the lower secondary school level, 20 education systems at the upper secondary school level and 19 secondary vocational education systems. However, environmental citizenship has never been at the heart of our education systems, and thus there is a need for explicit focus on environmental citizenship and for building a citizenry equipped and motivated to work toward better environmental outcomes [3
]. According to Dimick [4
] (p. 390), environmental citizenship should be an important educational aim according to which ’students’ civic capacities and dispositions to engage as participatory citizens in relation to environmental issues and concerns’ have to be developed.
In addition, to date, a set of similar environmental terms relevant to environmental citizenship have been developed and described in the educational literature, which are used each time with their own operational definition. Accordingly, concepts such as environmental citizenship (e.g., Dobson [5
]), green citizenship (e.g., Barry [7
]), ecological citizenship (e.g., Jagers and Matti [8
]) and sustainability citizenship (e.g., Barry [7
]) have not been clearly distinguished. Environmental Evidence Australia’s review [9
] concluded that agreement on what constitutes environmental citizenship, and the most effective tools and approaches for implementing environmental citizenship, are still emerging. Hadjichambis and Reis [10
] have suggested that environmental citizenship has to be conceptualized for 21st century education. According to the ongoing European project, European Network for Environmental Citizenship (ENEC), in which more than 120 experts from 38 countries are participating, environmental citizenship can be defined as:
“the responsible pro-environmental behaviour of citizens who act and participate in society as agents of change in the private and public spheres on a local, national and global scale, through individual and collective actions in the direction of solving contemporary environmental problems, preventing the creation of new environmental problems, achieving sustainability and developing a healthy relationship with nature. ‘Environmental Citizenship’ includes the practice of environmental rights and duties, as well as the identification of the underlying structural causes of environmental degradation and environmental problems, the development of the willingness and the competences for critical and active engagement and civic participation to address those structural causes, and to act individually and collectively within democratic means, taking into account inter- and intra-generational justice”
Education for Environmental Citizenship (EEC) is the type of education that has environmental citizenship as its prime concern and ultimate aim. Although EEC is an emerging educational field [12
], it is shaped in a pre-existing pedagogical landscape. Figure 1
presents the most relevant pedagogical approaches which form the pedagogical landscape of EEC. These include the following eight pedagogical approaches: (a) pedagogy of eco-justice, (b) place-based learning, (c) problem-based learning, (d) socio-scientific inquiry-based learning, (e) action competence learning, (f) community service learning, (g) civic ecology education and (h) participatory action research. Each of these approaches can contribute to the achievement of environmental citizenship; however, none of them alone can lead to the holistic and comprehensive attainment of the outputs of the education for environmental citizenship as these outputs are defined by ENEC [13
According to the definition of EEC, there are eight outcomes (Figure 2
, orange arrows) which can be achieved through actions in two dimensions (individual and collective), implemented in two different spheres (private and public) and at different scales (local, national and global). The constitutional elements of the EEC (outputs, actions’ dimensions, spheres and scales) form the EEC model which is integrated and illustrated in Figure 2
. It should be clarified that the exact position of each output in the EEC model does not illustrate its relationship with actions’ dimensions, spheres and scales.
The EEC model presents the structure of the concept of Education for Environmental Citizenship based on which the Environmental Citizenship Questionnaire (ECQ) was developed. In the core of the EEC model is situated the green cycle which includes the necessary knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, competences and behaviours that an environmental citizen (ECn) should be equipped with.
According to Melo-Escrihuela [15
], the discourse regarding Environmental Citizenship can be classified into two main categories: the personal duty or lifestyle approach, and the participatory rights approach coming from both the liberal and republican political theories. The liberal approach gives emphasis on individual responsibility and on claiming rights to environmental goods (therefore, in individual actions), while the republican approach gives emphasis on participatory rights in decision making, deliberation, civic participation and on the commitment to the common good (therefore, collective actions) (Hadjichambis and Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, [14
]). Stern [16
] stated that pro-environmental behaviour could be divided into two broad types: private and public sphere. The purchase, use and disposal of personal and household products that have environmental impact are attributed to the private sphere pro-environmental behaviour. According to the same author [8
], environmental activism and the support of public policies are attributed to the public sphere pro-environmental behaviour. In the EEC model, environmental citizenship actions are acknowledged as actions in the public sphere when they affect the relations in societies, and as actions in private spheres when they affect the relations between individuals and societies [17
]. It is obvious that the EEC model focuses on, among others, the capacities and commitments for effective and democratic citizenship. However, it must be acknowledged that there are different (and at times conflicting) visions of citizenship with political implications. According to Westheimer and Kahne [18
], three visions of “citizenship” are highlighted: the personally responsible citizen (citizens must have good character; they must be honest, responsible and law-abiding members of the community), the participatory citizen (citizens must actively participate and take leadership positions within established systems and community structures) and the justice-oriented citizen (citizens must question and change established systems and structures when they reproduce patterns of injustice over time). In addition, cosmopolitan international relations theorists envisage global issues being addressed on the basis of new forms of democracy, derived from the universal rights of global citizens. They suggest that, rather than focusing attention on the territorially limited rights of the citizen at the level of the nation-state, more emphasis should be placed on extending democracy and human rights to the international sphere [19
]. Extending political theorist David Held’s model of cosmopolitan democracy [20
], education for environmental citizenship could be explored in the context of globalisation, noting that citizenship education addresses issues at local, national and global scales. All human lives are increasingly influenced by events in other parts of the world. Such a perspective is critical in preparing young people to live together in increasingly diverse local communities and simultaneously in an interdependent world.
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the development of a theoretically grounded and empirically validated metric for measuring environmental citizenship as defined by its pan-European agreed definition by the experts participating in ENEC. Empirical studies for measuring environmental citizenship are lacking in the literature, as are empirically validated metrics for measuring environmental citizenship. Therefore, this study presents the structure of the concept of Education for Environmental Citizenship (EEC model) as well as how the ECQ was developed. Based on the data collected from secondary school students, the validation of the questionnaire is described. In sustainability studies, there is no metric that can measure students’ environmental citizenship in a comprehensive way. Consequently, an important gap has been filled by the ECQ, giving researchers and practitioners the opportunity to use a research instrument for measuring and assessing students’ environmental citizenship.
4. Discussion and Educational Implications
In this study, we described the development and validation of the ECQ as an instrument for the evaluation of environmental citizenship. Through an extensive review of the relevant literature and the relevant instruments, a number of possible items were identified which were reviewed by an expert panel. The remaining items were pilot tested and then discussed in student focus groups. For these items, a factor analysis for the statistical validation of the ECQ was undertaken.
The ECQ questionnaire can fill a gap in the literature as there is no questionnaire specific to environmental citizenship. So far, no comprehensive, holistic and validated metric is available which assesses environmental citizenship. Only partial questionnaire items measuring political consumer behaviour (e.g., Micheletti et al. [30
]) exist [23
]. This need became even greater after the comprehensive definition of ’environmental citizenship’ by the European network for environmental citizenship involving more than 120 experts and researchers from 38 countries including Europe, Israel, USA and Australia [11
The ECQ can be used to assess environmental citizenship in different contexts but also to evaluate educational interventions if this validated tool is implemented before and after an educational intervention or an environmental education programme. Some of the authors’ results of another study can support this claim but these results are out of the scope of this current study. It may also provide feedback on which environmental citizenship factors have been differentiated and which should be given greater emphasis and attention. In addition, the ECQ can be used to compare results from different contexts, regions and countries, different teaching practices (e.g., participatory action research, community-based learning) and in different types of education (e.g., formal, nonformal). In this case, of course, its effectiveness should be tested in different contexts, regions and countries and with different age groups, with possible modifications that might be needed.
The ECQ’s innovation is that it provides a direct correlation of questioning items with the EEC model’s constituents (Figure 2
) by incorporating questioning items for knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, competences and behaviours to assess environmental citizenship. The ECQ also includes items on agents of change and possible individual and collective actions in the private and public spheres, inside and outside the school, as well as on different scales (local, national and global).
One possible limitation of the ECQ is that it has been implemented and validated in a single European country (Cyprus). Applying the ECQ to other countries and other contexts may be a direction for future research. Another possible limitation is that it has a total of 76 items. This limitation on the large extent of the questionnaires is generally known in the literature (e.g., [31
]). Future research may also consider creating a shorter version of the ECQ.