Pollution and Culture: Final Report

Research Summary

The survey has collected over 221 surveys in China across different campuses. Among them, 202 participants are Chinese native speakers, 21 years old on average. There are 92 female and 76 male respondents, mostly from Chongqing University. Although the participants are across disciplines, it is noted that engineering major occupies over 47% of the participants since they mostly come from the largest Engineering-led college Chongqing University in the city. In addition to that, there are around 45% of 164 responses claiming that they have been living in Chongqing over 4 years, while 30% of them just stay in the city between 1 to 2 years. Accordingly, around 48% state that they just come to study in Chongqing at most 2 years, while 30% of the participants have been staying in local universities at least 5 and more years.

The survey also collected 96 responses from US college, among which 90 participants’ primary language is English. The participants’ average age is around 21 years old. There are 52 female and 30 male participants recorded on the survey, mostly from Pace University at New York City. Among 84 responses, Arts and Humanities (27%) and Social Science (26%) majors occupy the most, followed by Business (19%) and Other and Undecided (14%). Although 47% of respondents state they have only been at the university at most one year or below, 47 out of 84 respondents have already lived in the city for over one year.

Research Findings

So far, I have been focusing on using qualitative data analysis such as content analysis, free listing and discourse analysis to interpret the data. Here are some general ideas that I have taken from the collected data.

1) Pollution
Among the US students, pollution means destructive; words like “contamination”, “negative” or “damage” have been frequently appearing in the responses. Although both student groups in two cultures have mentioned how pollution damages the environment, US students seem to associate “pollution” more with the “ecological system” and “natural environment”, whereas Chinese students are more likely to put “health” and “the effects of pollution” together. It is interesting because when it asks the US students to list environmental-changes in New York City, several participants do mention they have health problems such as breathing issues after coming to the city. However, it seems that Chinese students might feel more threatened about their health by the effects of pollution than US students.

2) Economy and Environment
Both Chongqing students in China and New York City students in the US agree, that the city where they currently live in should prioritize “environmental protection” instead of “economic development”. However, it does not necessarily mean that the students in two cultures consider the “economy” and the “environment” as a set of contradiction. In the following question, students indicate that they believe the two factors can, in fact, support each other in terms of better development.

3) Global and Local
On the one hand, among the 70 responses of US students population,  49% states that “local environmental protection” should be prioritized while 51% puts “global environmental protection” first. On the other hand, the majority of Chinese students population (62%) agrees strongly that people should focus on “local environmental protection” first. In the following question asking the reason behind their choices, it suggests that Chinese students seem to show a strong sense of community-based value system on the national level.

Learning Experiences

The undergraduate-faculty led program has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me. Professor Pajo has been an amazing mentor to me from the very beginning, helping me develop the research design and analyze the data. I cannot say how incredible that was to me, as it helped me apply what I have gained from class into research practices. By collaborating with Professor Pajo, I learned to analyze qualitative data by using quantitative approaches, which I will implement in future research. Furthermore, I would like to point out that the seminars offered by the UGR program are extremely helpful to me. I not only learned how to effectively read and research for my project but also practical skills including resume writing. Overall, the conducting of the undergraduate research program has broadened my horizon and encouraged me to pursue future academic goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *