NIFK14029U  Motivation and Pro-Environmental Behaviour - Managing Change

Volume 2019/2020

MSc Programme in Nature Management
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
MSc Programme in Climate Change



This course focuses on ways to motivate pro-environmental behaviour change.

Solving global challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation, provision of clean water, food, etc. all goes back to individual and social behaviour related to the environment. The key questions addressed in this course are: How can citizens – as consumers, producers, and community members - be motivated towards environmentally-friendly behaviour? This may entail reductions in energy consumption or use of pesticides on one’s farmland, a greater use of bikes or trains instead of cars, increased recycling, picking up litter in the park, buying organic products, or participation in social/political movements. What are different strategies to achieve behavioural change, and what effects do they have, both intended and unintended?

The course builds on theories about motivation and behaviour, theories of change, real life cases and practical tools to initiate and sustain behavioural change among individuals, groups, and organisations.

The motivation and behaviour theories span studies of specific, individual behaviour (e.g. theory of planned behaviour), to macro level studies of how behaviour is shaped by societal factors like infrastructure, technology, economy, public discourse and media debate. Some theories anticipate that human behaviour is guided by economic, rational choice, while other extend rationality to also include, e.g. considerations of individual limitations as well as values, and to take into account broader societal interests. Other theories, in contrast, focus more on habit, emotions, direct experience, and how this is formative for behavioural change.

Empirical interventions will be showcased throughout the course, such as political and grassroots campaigns (often via different forms of media), community engagement, role models, schemes, and taxes.

Based on real-life cases from private and public organisations engaged at various levels (municipal, national, global) on environmental issues and management, students will learn to apply these theories in the real world and become better equipped as citizens and future policy makers and policy influencers, to formulate intervention strategies to achieve desired changes. Students are also expected to consider the implications of behavioural theories on policy practice. How do the different ways we look upon human behaviour, enable or limit what becomes possible in relation to environmental behavioural change?!


Learning Outcome


The aim of this course is to provide students with skills to understand, analyse and conduct change processes aimed at enhancing environmentally friendly behaviour.
This is done by introducing students to a set of theoretical approaches to study motivation, behaviour, and behavioural change, and to enable students to apply these in their own work.

Based on the course, it is expected that the student can
- understand and describe a set of theories of motivation and behaviour
- understand and describe selected theories of individual, collective and structural change
- apply relevant behavioural theory to environmental cases, be it national park management, transport behaviour, recycling, energy and food consumption or private land management.
- suggest strategies and actions to enhance environmentally friendly behaviour in selected cases
- critically discuss opportunities and limitations to behavioural change, given the political, legal, administrative and managerial set up.


The course will be based on scientific articles and key references on 1) motivation and behaviour theory, and 2) strategies and tools for management of change in organizations and communities

The course is designed to give students with a natural science background an introduction to theories of motivation, behaviour and change management. No prior knowledge of motivation and behavioral theories is required

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The course consists of lectures, real life cases and excursions, exercises, and students’ colloquia. During the course, the students prepare and hand in written assignments based on the course literature and applied to real life cases
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Students get feedback on both the assignment and the group report. The assignments are handed in continously through the course and students recieve feedback (in plenary, written and oral) continously so it can be used for the next assignment and finally the group report handed in in the end of the course. Students receives written feedback for their group report.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio exam – three individual assignments and one group report. The assignments are specified for each course season but follows the themes of the course. The group report is written on a self-elected case. The assignments and group report all include critical reflections on scientific articles about motivation and behaviour and analysis and critical evaluation of selected real life intervention strategies.

Weight: Each of the assignments count 20 % and the group report 40 % (mandatory). Students are individually assessed on their contribution to the group report. The final grade is calculated as a weighted average of the results from the part-examinations.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiners

The reexam consists of two parts:

Oral examination within the course curriculum. 30 minutes. No time for preparation. Weight 40%. The curriculum is the same as what is expected for the ordinary exam. 

Three assignments. They must be handed in three weeks prior to the re-exam. Weight 20% each.

Criteria for exam assesment

See the criteria for Learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Colloquia
  • 16
  • Theory exercises
  • 64
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Preparation
  • 78
  • Total
  • 206