Communicating about sustainability, and especially promoting sustainable behaviors, can be difficult. Below you will find some resources to help you communicate effectively to many different audiences. (Publications and information below are the views and property of the associated organization.)
Promoting Sustainable Behavior, a guide to successful communication
by University of California, Berkley Office of Sustainability. Berkley’s Office of Sustainability pulled together this short, easy-to-understand primer in 2010 to help campus community members promote sustainable behaviors to faculty, staff, and students.
General Tips for Communicating about Sustainable Behavior Change
by Ryan Gourley, SNRE graduate and former PBA Program Assistant. This one page PDF gives helpful tips for anyone communicating about sustainability and encouraging sustainable behaviors. PDF download.
Community Based Social Marketing
by Doug McKenzie-Mohr, Ph.D. This website provides the free book Fostering Sustainable Behavior, as well as a database of articles, case studies, and strategies.
“This book is about making the transition gracefully… Community-based social marketing draws heavily on research in social psychology, which indicates that initiatives to promote behavior change are often most effective when they are carried out at the community level and involve direct contact with people.”
Raymond De Young
Raymond De Young, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Environmental Psychology and Planning in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) here at U-M. In “Slow wins: perseverance and behavior change” he discusses the challenges of creating sustainable behavior change.
Global Warming’s Six Americas
by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. This publication takes a look at Americans’ interpretations of and responses to climate change. The research revealed there are six large, distinct categories Americans fall into regarding their views of climate change. Which group do you identify with? How do you talk about climate change to others who identify with a different group? Understanding why and how others view climate change and how it differs from your own view can help you talk about climate change with everyone.
The Sustainable Citizen Program provides sustainability learning “in a box.” Targeted towards undergraduate students but appropriate for anyone wishing to become a more sustainable citizen, the program guides learners through a 3-step process of becoming informed, developing skills, and engaging their community.
Sustainable Citizen includes a free online “Handbook of Sustainability Literacy”, sustainable issue guides, as well as “The Skeptic’s Guide to Sustainability” about finding common ground in sustainability and understanding others with differing cultures, experiences, and worldviews.
From the site: The Sustainable Citizen Program is based upon an evaluated method we call “See. Grow. Do.” The Program is an intentional process by which students or other learners gain a minimum competency in sustainability knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that will launch them forward as sustainable citizens. Complete the process and you will become a more sustainable citizen!
This initiative of 350.org showcases art whose subject is climate change, and supports the creators of such art through building inspiration, resources, and community. If you’d like to design an art project in your own community, the site has practical guides here and here.
From the site: Using art to spark a global climate movement. EARTH collaborates with creatives to transform the human rights and environmental issues connected to climate change into powerful art that gets people to stop, think and act.
Living Room Conversations
Living Room Conversations is a project to help everyday citizens reach out to their neighbors and engage in thoughtful dialogue about the most pressing issues of our time. The website serves as a resource page for those hosting or participating in these conversations.
The site includes open-sourced resources with tips on hosting general “living room conversations” with a variety of people, as well as a specific discussion guide on energy conservation.
From the site: We believe civil discourse in the United States can be respectful, constructive, collaborative, solution focused and conducive to empowering healthy communities. Sadly, at this time, the art of civil conversation and the ability to harness the power of genuine connectedness and alignment is at a historic low. Political parties are failing to collaborate or even compromise, to the detriment of our future. It is time for the citizens to lead the leaders. Living Room Conversations are designed to revitalize the art of conversation among people with diverse views and remind our fellow Americans of the power and beauty of civil discourse.
Take Part’s Community Action Toolkit
Take Part has put together a fun, easy to use “community action pack” chock-full of tools to help you tackle an issue, spread your message, and build community support in an organizer role.
From the site: TakePart is a leading source of socially relevant news, features, opinion, entertainment and information - all focused on the issues that shape our lives. We're also a community of people compelled to take action! At the heart of everything we do is a belief that a story well told can change the world. That’s why our mission is singular: To inspire and accelerate social change by connecting content to social action.
Meetup provides a platform for finding, organizing, and meeting with like-minded individuals in your local community. Groups form and connect around common interests on the website, then members make arrangements to meet together face-to-face. As of December 2012, there were over 25 groups centered around “Community and Environment” in the Ann Arbor area.
From the site: Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities. Meetup's mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.
Relevant coursework for U-M students
- ENV 207 Sustainability and Society
- ENV 391 Sustainability and the Campus
- ENV 302 Sustainable Neighborhoods
- ENV 407 Sustainable Cities
- ENV 270 Our Common Future
- ENV 211 Social Science and Environmental Problems
- ENV 256 Culture, Adaptation, and Environment
- ENV 222 Introduction to Environmental Justice
- ENV 301 Nature, Culture, and Landscape
- ENV 304 Topics in Culture and Environment
- ENV 312 Environmental Politics and Policy
- ENV 335 Intro to Environmental Politics: Race, Class, and Gender
- ENV 336 Environment and Inequality
- ENV 345 Environmental Public Opinion Analysis
- ENV 360 Behavior and Environment
- ENV 361 Psychology of Environmental Stewardship
- ENV 377 Literature and the Environment
- AMCULT 496 American Values and Sustainability
- SOC 415 Culture and Consumption
- In Transition 2.0 (2012) http://www.intransitionmovie.com/
- The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2006) http://www.communitysolution.org/mediaandeducation/films/powerofcommunity/
- Within Reach (2012) http://www.withinreachmovie.com/
- Coming Home: The Reinvention of Localized Economies (2009) http://foodandfarmingnetwork.org/content/coming-home-ef-schumacher-reinvention-local-economy