Evaluating the impact of a youth polar expedition alumni programme on post-trip pro-environmental behaviour: a community-engaged research approach

Christy Hehir, Emma J. Stewart, Patrick T. Maher, Manuel Alector Ribeiro
2020 Journal of Sustainable Tourism  
Youth-based programmes providing education-based expeditions to the Polar Regions have been offered for more than two decades, and whilst studies hint that participants return as inspired and empowered ambassadors, research to date has been inconclusive as to what impact such expeditions have had on their participants' subsequent lifestyle decisions and pro-environmental behaviours. To address this research gap, Social Identity Theory (SIT) was used to evaluate the impact of youth polar
more » ... ons on participants' pro-environmental behaviour, up to 18 years after their polar voyage. In collaboration with Students on Ice (SOI), this study tested the direct and indirect relationships between previous SOI students' (n ¼ 217) social identity towards the alumni programme and their subsequent connections with nature and proenvironmental behaviours. Findings suggest that social identity might be one way to explain the long-term impact of educational expeditions in terms of desired future pro-environmental behaviours, underscoring the critical importance of an alumni programme. Furthermore, a Community-Engaged Research (CER) approach was adopted to evidence the impact of this research beyond the realm of academia. We reflect on the CER approach with the intention of assisting others to produce impactful and socially robust knowledge, maximising the real-world impact of the findings. ARTICLE HISTORY
doi:10.1080/09669582.2020.1863973 fatcat:org2gfwxzffebgvmb2t5ngvs3a