Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ron Chandler

Dr. Ron Chandler

Dr. Ron Chandler is currently a Lecturer for UF Department of Psychology and an Undergraduate Research Mentor for Program for Sustainability in the Built Environment, College of Design Construction and Planning. He has been with the University of Florida since 2015, where he initially started out as a Lecturer, Interim Director of Sustainability Studies, and Graduate Faculty Representative. Dr. Chandler graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a BS in Aquatic Biology and Wildlife Science in 1979, Texas State University with an MS in Limnology & Aquatic Chemistry in 1984, and went back to school in 2014 for his PhD at Walden University in Educational Psychology. He currently teaches several classes at UF, including Psychology of Sustainability, General Psychology, Social Psychology, and Positive Psychology (Spring 2018).

Dr. Chandler’s main research focus is “understanding and describing the role of dignity in education in general and education for sustainability in particular. Central to this work is the placement of psychology at the center of research for and development of approaches for resolving factors negatively affecting human dignity.” He also states, “It is my contention that to the extent we can resolve factors negatively affecting individual and societal experience of dignity it is to that extent that we can create and maintain a sustainable human ecology. To that end, I am especially interested continuing the development of Sustainability Psychology as an approach to education for social change and sustainability. One example of this is the ongoing research that I am conducting in NE India in collaboration with social scientists at TATA Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) conservation lands management agencies such as Department of Forests in India, as well as with ecologists at Wildlife Institute of India (WWI), and UNESCO. This research seeks to understand and explain indigenous peoples’ experience of landscape and wildlife in context of their culture, and through their perspective develop resilient solutions to factors threatening their sustainability.”

Dr. Chandler was inspired to choose psychology as his final career “…by the need to understand and ‘answer’ the question ‘Why?’ and to employ that answer to inform individuals in ways that encourage them to treat themselves, others, and Earth with greater respect.” He said, “Put this another way, the meaning of my life is helping others find the meaning of theirs.”

Dr. Chandler considers his most important work to date to be the development of “I am the Paradigm Shift Theory (IPST).” IPST describes undergraduates’ cultivation of the six essential characteristics of the effective prosocial/sustainability agent: reflective judgement, postconventional moral reasoning, wellbeing, leadership, intercultural effectiveness, and interest in lifelong inquiry and learning. You can hear Dr. Chandler speak more about IPST here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtyFAzgEGtA.

In addition to his work with University of Florida, Dr. Chandler is also President of Conservation Initiative for the Asian Elephant (CIFAE), a 501 (c)3 organization that he cofounded with Dr. Amirthraj Williams in 2000. CIFAE’s mission is to “identify issues of critical importance to the sustainability of the Asian elephant and the peoples sharing its habitat.” You can read more about the CIFAE here at their website: http://www.savetheasianelephant.org/origin-nature-of-cifae/. Most recently Dr. Chandler and CIFAE, with Department of Forests, TISS, and WII initiated an UNESCO Dual-Status World Heritage Site inscription process for an area that is home to one of the oldest indigenous peoples in India, one of the five largest herds of Asian elephants remaining in the wild, as well as home to the greatest diversity of wild cats anywhere on Earth.

You can read more details about this work here: http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_af3e1616-ef59-11e6-adf3-0bb65e06badd.html.