Additional Resources on “Environmental Action” Course

Is this the Eco-Reps program?

Environmental Action is a variation of Eco-Reps, in that it involves engaging students in peer-to-peer learning. What is the Eco-Reps Program?

The Eco-Reps program was first designed and run by Anja Kollmus in 2001 and has been replicated by colleges and universities across the country as an effective peer-to-peer education and action program. At Tufts, it was supported by the Tufts Climate Initiative (which became part of the Office of Sustainability), with financial support from the Tufts Institute of the Environment. For more information, visit Eco-Rep page.

Envisioning a need for additional education for students, we decided to broaden our reach by creating a class that students could take for credit. The larger Tufts community can now learn about sustainability theory and action through the Experimental College (aka the Ex-college) in the course entitled Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing. This class will meet each week and engage students in both environmental literacy and the social science component of sustainable living.

For more information about the original Eco-Rep program, go to this page.

Environmental Action: Sample Program Activities

During each class, students are given the opportunity to discuss current environmental issues and explore what behavioral changes need to occur to minimize environmental degradation. A typical class schedule is:

 Time  Activity  Description
 30 min Discuss blogs Talk about blog assignment that was due
 30 min Presentation On topic of the week (social marketing, behavior change, waste, food, climate change etc)
 5 min  BREAK
 20 min Class activity Students discuss or practice a component of the course  (e.g. repositioning exercise, small group work, etc)
 20 min Short presentation/discussion Supplemental topic related to social marketing (communication, talking points, survey methods, etc)
 20 min Social marketing report-out groups report on the results of their formative research or implementation plan.
 15 min Group and Individual Activity Prep Work Time During the last portion of class students will be given an opportunity to plan with their group. (e.g. social marketing activities)
 15 min  Homework Review assignments for next week (readings, blog topic, behavior challenge, etc)
Total Time: 2 hr 30 min

Environmental Action: Sample Schedule

Note: This is only a short sample of the class syllabus.

Date Topic Activity Due
9/8/10 InstructionChanging behavior (1) – – –
9/15/10 Critical thinkingChanging behavior (2)  1st Behavior Challenge: Set up your blog and introduce your “eco-self” and answer “What are my habits?”
9/22/10 Social Marketing: Objectives/Goals, Audience, Cost/BenefitsSurvey Methods and Tools Blog post #2, reflect on Behavior Challenge.
Complete skills sheet.
Social Marketing readings: Community-based Social Marketing, McKenzie-Mohr, Warning:Habits May Be Good For You, NYT, Life Lessons from an Ad Man (Video). Formative Research Reading: Intercept Interviews, Kolb.
9/29/19 History of Environmental MovementsCommunication Blog post #3,  Communication – Seeping into the cracks.
Social marketing: formative research initial results repost.
Historical Movements reading:How personal actions can kick-start a sustainable revolution, Grist article, A very quick recap on Environmental Issues in US, CNN article, 1960-2004 environmental timeline, WorldWatch, Death of Environmentalism, Shelberger and Nordhaus.
10/6/10 Social Marketing and CommunicationRepositioningExchange TheoryMessaging Blog post #4: My Audience.
Social Marketing: Formative additional results.
Social Marketing reading: Social Norms: An underestimated and underemployed lever for managing, climate change, Griskevicius, Cialdini, & Goldstein, Social Marketing: a) Ch. 10, b) Quick Reference Guide, c) Communication Channels, Kotler & Lee.
Communication reading: You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring. What is education for?
10/13/10 Sustainability at TuftsTalking Points 2nd Behavior Challenge: Zero Waste. Blog post #5, midterm reflection.
Social Marketing: worksheet sections 1-6 first draft due. Formative research completed – Results posted on Blackboard.
Social Marketing reading: Examples of Successful Social Marketing Campaigns.

Social Marketing Group Activities

Students enrolled in Environmental Actionwill work together to create a campus wide social marketing campaign to influence their peers’ environmentally related behaviors.

Previous Campaigns

  1. Trayless dining
  2. Paper reduction on campus 
  3. Bottled Water (Tufts Daily Article 11/4/10, Op-Ed 12/9/10, videos)

Individual Behavior Change Challenges:

Students enrolled in Environmental Action will be given three-four different behavior challenges that will encourage you to change your own personal behaviors to more sustainable ones. You will be encouraged to involve your friends and dormmates/classmates in participating in these challenges with you.

Example Challenge:

Zero Waste – Each student will be responsible for carrying around any waste they create for a week. If it is not recyclable or compostable the trash will go in a bag on the outside of their backpacks to be carried around to class and other on and off campus activities. This activity is designed to make students aware of just how much waste they are responsible for so that in the future they will think twice about purchasing an item with a lot of packaging or a non-recyclable or non-compostable item.

About the Instructor

Tina Woolston Tina Woolston joined the Office of Sustainability in September of 2007 and holds a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science and Ruminant Nutrition from Cornell University. At Tufts she has worked on greening initiatives with the purchasing, publications and dining departments as well as initiatives with students such as Focus the Nation, the renewable energy program Get Clean and the Environmental Leadership Roundtable. In addition, during Fall 2008, she started the Eco-Ambassador program for staff. Tina also has worked as the Program Manager for Sustainability at Earthwatch Institute, conducting emissions audits and office greening initiatives; and teaching 7-21 day sea kayaking and mountaineering expeditions for Outward Bound in Colorado, Alaska and Baja, Mexico.
Tina brings a strong background in experiential education, environmental literacy and sustainable living knowledge to the course.

Can I do this on my campus?

With lots of time and patience! There are a lot of great resources out there for starting an Eco-Rep program – you can look atwhat other schools are doing or design your own program from scratch. For information about the original Eco-Rep program at Tufts – go here.

At Tufts, we are lucky to have The Experimental College which serves as an incubator for new ideas about teaching, learning, and curriculum. This allowed us to try out a course without having to go through the rigors of creating a new course within an existing department and curriculum. Other colleges have courses taught by professors through their Environmental Studies program or other departments. AASHE lists some of them on their website.