Commuter Behavior at Kalamazoo College: Manifesting Ontological Security in Environmental (In)Action
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In June 2007, Kalamazoo College became the second college in Michigan to sign the American College and University Presidents‟ Climate Commitment, a promise to address local and institutional influences on climate change. By 2058, the College plans to achieve carbon neutrality. Commuter greenhouse gas emissions represent a statistically small obstacle to carbon neutrality; however, commuter behavior reflects massive cultural barriers to climate conscious action. A socially sustainable culture, in which mutual cooperation and commitment to protect the environment are the norm, is necessary to build enduring community commitment to climate action. My research investigates the ways in which commuting patterns of faculty, staff, and especially students manifest cultural factors that affect environmental action. I deconstruct the influence of identity on commuter behavior through the lens of Giddens' ontological security, drawing on data collected through semi-structured interviews with student leaders on campus and more than 500 student, faculty and staff surveys. My research suggests that cultural background and gender impact the way commuters conceptualize the immediacy of climate change in time and space, and following, how commuters prioritize and actualize environmental knowledge and ethics.