People, Plants, and the Planet: The Design and Impact of a Climate Change Curriculum to Support Plant Based Eating in U.S. Adolescents


This study aimed to examine the impact of climate change curriculum on 5th-grade students' food choice and sustainability considerations. Insight into the drivers of food choice and sustainability considerations that were most salient among 5th-grade students were gleaned through interviews to assist in designing and implementing a school curriculum entitled People, Plants, and the Planet (PPP). Six modules on climate change and sustainable food behaviors were developed that focused on food systems and plant-based eating. A cluster randomized controlled study design was implemented to evaluate its effectiveness at improving climate change knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behaviors. Four New Jersey schools in three counties participated. Three NJ schools were randomly assigned to the intervention, while the other school was assigned to the control. Within the intervention schools, one classroom was randomly assigned the full intervention (educational curriculum + cafeteria changes), and another was assigned to a half intervention (only cafeteria changes). The control group had a delayed intervention, receiving the intervention after the study was completed. To evaluate impact, participants (n=111) completed pre- and post-test surveys. An adaptive version of the Theory of Planned Behavior was used as the theoretical underpinning of the survey. At the post-test, the full-intervention group (n=48) had significantly higher mean scores in climate change and plant-based eating knowledge compared to the half-intervention (n=46) and control groups (n=17). This curriculum shows promise in being able to help shift food choices towards more plant-based foods in the context of climate change mitigation among adolescents.

Author Information
Sara Elnakib, Rutgers University, United States
Sabrina Subhit, Rutgers University, United States
Ethan Schoolman, Rutgers University, United States
Peggy Policastro, Rutgers University, United States
Shauna Downs, Rutgers University, United States
Virginia Quick, Rutgers University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2024
Stream: Educational Research

This paper is part of the IICE2024 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Elnakib S., Subhit S., Schoolman E., Policastro P., Downs S., & Quick V. (2024) People, Plants, and the Planet: The Design and Impact of a Climate Change Curriculum to Support Plant Based Eating in U.S. Adolescents ISSN: 2189-1036 – The IAFOR International Conference on Education – Hawaii 2024 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon