Doctoral Student Named Finalist in Three Minute Thesis Competition
Bill Kelvin, College of Communication and Information doctoral student, was recently named one of four finalists in the Kent State University Three Minute Thesis competition.
Kelvin presented research he conducted with Tricia Niesz, Ph.D., a professor of Evaluation and Measurement. He will present this research in the final round of the Three Minute Thesis competition Friday, Oct. 7, at noon in the Kiva.
A native Californian, Kelvin realized that Ohioans are less likely to recycle, even when they are reminded by signs or by their peers. Kelvin said he often takes it upon himself to remind his co-workers and friends to recycle.
"I looked into academic literature and could not find any research on employees bugging their co-workers about eco-friendly behaviors like recycling, turning off lights, saving paper," Kelvin said. "I decided to interview some sustainability professionals to see if they do what I do. It turns out, they do."
After performing a thematic analysis of the transcripts of these qualitative interviews, Kelvin discovered that each individual who acted as a spokesperson for eco-friendly behaviors among his or her peers conducted a cost-benefit analysis before they attempted to talk to their co-workers about their behaviors.
"I investigated the different factors they consider before advocating pro-environmental behavior in the workplace, but I also learned that [...] nagging is not the wisest way to use my energy," Kelvin said. "All the participants said it is more fruitful to pursue systemic reform, rather than attempting to change one person’s behavior."
Kelvin said his findings have led him to change his own behavior in reminding others to recycle. He recently worked with a Graduate Studies representative to make sure that no Styrofoam dishware - items that are not recyclable - were used at the Three Minute Thesis competition.
"Ultimately, I would like to see such non-recyclable materials phased out of university practices, but that of course is a lofty goal," Kelvin said. "I am focused on small, but meaningful steps, as I hope to help humankind transform our collective practices to be less harmful to the biosphere. We can all take small, individual actions, but system-wide changes can help many of us change more swiftly."