Research problemHumans engage in a complex array of occupations throughout their daily lives. Occupations are all the ways we occupy time and space; they involve everything we do including all activities and actions. Occupations take place within an environmental context. That is, the environment influences the occupations people engage in and the occupations, in turn, influence people and environments or the ecological context. It is becoming increasingly more important to address the impact human occupations have on ecological sustainability. To address the impact of human occupations, we need to understand the influences or reasons why humans engage in certain occupations.The occupations we engage in can be divided into categories according to the effects the occupations have: those occupations motivated by outcomes that are favourable to the individual and those occupations that are motivated by outcomes that are „earth friendly“ or favourable to the ecological context. Although situations exist where occupational outcomes favour both individual and ecological contexts, ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressures resulting from people engaging in occupations that favour individual needs at the expense of ecological balance, harmony and health. Many factors such as values, attitudes, characteristics and past experiences influence human occupations. This research aims to investigate the occupational influences on two groups of people: those people who are known for engaging in occupations that are favourable to the ecological context and those people who are known for engaging in occupations that primarily favour the individual.ContextThis research will aim to capture a range of diverse views by exploring the experiences of influential people across a range of cultural and geographical locations.Theoretical frameworkOccupational science: the study of the ways people occupy time and spacePerspectives of health: individual, public/population, ecological, prevention, promotionEcological sustainabilityEconomic rationalismEnvironmental psychology/eco-psychologyEnvironmental sociologyHypotheses1. That common values, attitudes, past experiences and characteristics influence the occupations of people who engage in occupations that favour the ecological context.2. That common values, attitudes, past experiences and characteristics influence the occupations of people who engage in occupations that favour individual needs at the expense of the ecological context.3. That the values, attitudes, past experiences and characteristics of these two groups of people are different.4. That structures within societies can provide opportunities for the development of values, attitudes, characteristics and experiences that are favourable to people engaging in occupations that promote ecological balance, harmony and sustainability.Questions1. What particular values, attitudes, past experiences and characteristics influence people to engage in occupations that favourthe ecological context?the individual at the expense of the ecological context?3. What do these people believe influence their occupational lives?4. What occupations do they engage in thatdemonstrate promotion of the ecological context?favour individual needs at the expense of the ecological context?6. How do people who favour engagement in occupations that support the ecological context view people who engage in occupations that support individual needs at the expense of the ecological context and visa versa?7. What changes would need to occur within their society to encourage a greater focus on sustainability?MethodologySample/populationPending ethics approval, approximately 7-10 people will be chosen from each of the two perspectives. A sample of people from a range of cultural and geographical locations who are internationally, nationally and locally well known will be chosen to identify a range of factors, micro to macro, which might be influencing them. Participant selection will cease once saturation of the data occurs.Data Gathering/AnalysisA grounded theory approach will be used to guide the research methodology whereby the data collection and analysis processes are intertwined and evolve. A series of approximately 3 in-depth interviews with semi-structured questions (1-2 hours duration) per person will be transcribed and analysed. The initial interview with each person will preferably be person-to-person with follow up interviews using telephone or person-to-person means.State of development of thesisThis research project is in its infancy, with the development of the research proposal and literature review currently underway. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to share my research ideas with my peers and gain feedback. I anticipate a substantive literature review will have taken place by July 2004.Avenues for research findings applicationsThe possible findings of this research may highlight more explicit ecologically-centred models and philosophies that may influence occupational and social change through applications in areas such as health, public policy and education.