The influence of nature on secondary school students’ subjective well-being in England and Greece.
PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The main aim of this thesis is to investigate the potential benefits of affiliation with
nature on British and Greek secondary school students’ positive functioning, and the
variations in relation to climate and geography conditions. Particular emphasis is given
on the role of schools' environmental education programs and activities. Following the
contemporary positive psychology theory, we have focused on two main well-being
conceptualizations: (i) the hedonic (or so-called subjective well-being), i.e. life
satisfaction/happiness, and (ii) the eudaimonic, i.e. personal growth/flourishing life.
A wide range of objective and subjective indicators have been used to represent
various environmental parameters. The subjective indicators include students’
perceptions about the surrounding environment, their experiential exposure to nature
(participation in outdoor sports, excursions to nature, etc.), environmental attitudes,
values and knowledge, while the objective indicators assess the local climate and
geographical characteristics, such as average annual temperature, wind and
precipitation, altitude, distance from sea, rural vs. urban areas, and local
environmental conditions, such as air pollution, proximity to heavy industries and
airports, and proximity to areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The study employs a quantitative survey approach (paper and internet based) to
collect cross-sectional data from various lower and upper secondary schools across the
two countries. A sample of 3614 students (aged between 14 and 19 years old) from 94
Greek secondary schools and 527 students (aged between 12 and 19 years old) from 15
English secondary schools have been collected during the academic years 2010-2011
and 2011-2012. The statistical analysis is mainly based on OLS and ordered logistic
regressions with clustered standard errors, to control for intraclass correlation among
the respodents. The findings highlight the significant effect of connectedness with
nature on subjective and eudaimonic well-being, and the beneficial role of
environmental education in promoting overall life satisfaction, school satisfaction and
eudaimonia, either directly or indirectly through the enhancement of connectedness
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