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Professor Garcia Mera brings the work of the University of Coruña to the Philippines

Professor Garcia Mera brings the work of the University of Coruña to the Philippines

What better way to end Science Week than with a new science “first” for the country? True to its “Open Science” motto, the UST College of Science, Department of Psychology, organized the First International Environmental Psychology Conference (EPIC) in the Philippines, which focused on the role of psychological sciences in addressing the impact of climate change. This event was held online via Zoom and Facebook Live, as well as on-site at the UST Central Laboratory Hall from 8am to 5pm on March 23, 2024.

The first keynote speaker, Dr. Susan Clayton, from the College of Worcester (USA), addressed psychological responses to climate change, noting that natural disasters have a strong impact on the well-being of victims, and that these effects can persist for a long time. For a long time, causing cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and cognitive dysfunction.

For his part, Dr. Oliver Sta Ana, of the Philippine Psychological Association – Environmental Psychology Special Interest Group (PAP – EPSIG), explained how to promote environmental psychology in the Philippine environment. It showed how the organization effectively protects and restores the environment by raising awareness, generating interest, creating opportunities and conducting research.

The last speaker in the morning plenary session was Dr. Ricardo Mera, from the University of Coruña (Spain), who stressed the importance of collaboration with both local authorities and the public in the co-production of knowledge and projects within the framework of environmental psychology.

The afternoon session began with the Vice Chair and Executive Director of the Committee on Climate Change, Secretary Robert E.A. Burgi, who also emphasized the importance of mindset and active participation by pointing out that we need a fundamental and transformative change in the perspective of different social groups. Science to mitigate climate change.

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After that, Dr. John Jammer Benzon R. Arota of the Philippine Psychological Society led the plenary session with a talk on the disparities between research activities in environmental psychology in the Global North and Global South regions. He highlighted that countries in the Global South, such as the Philippines, have not been studied despite being more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Finally, Dr. Marino Bonaiuto, from Sapienza University of Rome, spoke about the social process of accepting energy technologies for mitigation and adaptation. According to him, citizens' belief in the accessibility and reliability of the energy source is essential for them to develop positive attitudes and support sustainable technologies.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Karen Katrina Trinidad, Ph.D., Head of the Department of Psychology, UST College of Science, highlighted the role of psychology in understanding human behavior under different environmental conditions. “It is very important that we understand behavior so that we can do interventions and research that will help in this area,” he said.

Environmental psychology remains a young field that can offer broad scope for the impact of environmental sustainability on mental health. Embracing the lessons of environmental psychology allows us to pave the way toward a more resilient, harmonious, and mentally stable society for future generations—an truly epic ambition.