EPA Environmental Science Series: Behavioural change – building a culture of environmental protection
Seminar 6th November 2019 transcript
Good afternoon everyone it's my pleasure to welcome you here today.
I'm Andrea Hinwood I’m the chief environmental scientist at EPA Victoria. I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to the elders past and present and I extend my respect to the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander people colleagues, staff and students who are with us here today.
I’d also like to acknowledge members of the EPA governing board who are here today Ross Pilling and Monique Conheady and of course thank you to everyone who's out there in internet land live streaming hello.
I know I can't see your faces so I’ll just have to pretend you're here.
So thanks for joining us at EPA Victoria’s seventh environmental science seminar series and this one is about behaviour change. Behaviour change and building a cultural of environmental protection and we have our special guest speaker Dr Jeni Cross. This is a topic that is important to EPA Victoria because clearly we have a role of protection of the environment and human health but interestingly when we've asked you for feedback after this series this is also something that you have told us that you would like to learn more about.
Dr Jeni Cross comes all the way from Colorado State University a place I was actually fortunate to visit earlier this year and it's a pleasure to have her share her knowledge and insights with us today.
A few housekeeping notes please remember to switch your phone off I hope I’ve switched mine off. In the case of an emergency the tones will go off and please follow the instructions of on-site staff.
So as you know Victoria like all states and territories in Australia have environmental regulations and they're intended to prevent and reduce pollution and waste. The international Ecolex database shows over 1200 pieces of legislation relevant to protecting the environment in Australia. So we sit here and we ask ourselves the question why are we still continuing to underperform in protecting the environment in key areas particularly in relation to protection of the natural environment and restoration of natural environments and we still have issues in relation to air quality storm water etc.
What the research is telling us is that effective approaches to improving the environment and to reduce these negative environmental impacts require social, legal economic and other instruments to actually account for the diversity of the population's values, motivations, social economic ability to implement change.
I think we all actually know this, that regulation’s great and I can say in Victoria we've done a pretty good job when it comes to the major contributors to pollution in terms of our licensed entities.
But the problem is now a much more diffuse problem that actually affects many more people and there are many things that we are doing on a day-to-day basis which is contributing to degradations in environmental quality. So we need to start thinking about considerations such as personal motivations, the social context, people's ability to comply value judgments about whether in fact you want to be regulated or not it's quite an interesting discussion for me. Some people absolutely want regulation because then there's a level playing field and then of course we have a whole group of people that say don't regulate us we'll do the right thing just stay out of it and let us manage things. So we have different values, attitudes and motivations. What might work for one group of people is not necessarily going to work with another and I think we all know that.
So it's also true that some things that harm the environment can be caused by behaviour that's considered normal. Sorry folks driving your car contributes to poor air quality. Most of us drive a car. Unpacking your over-packaged online shopping is actually contributing to the stockpiling of a lot of materials where we don't necessarily have markets for recycling for. Washing your car and washing the materials down the drain goes into storm water. Where does the storm water go?
It ends up at some point in the system in our waterways potentially degrading those environments so our collective as our collective decision making and our individual decision making can give rise to worsen environmental issues and so as the environment underpins our quality of life, the behaviour of society presents a significant challenge for us all.
So we need to know and understand both pro and anti-environmental behaviour in society. I mean I have to say personally I don't understand littering, I don't actually understand it I’m hoping that I’m going to get to understand it. What factors influence and what sorts of environmental changes we want and are therefore identifying those problems and working out how we're going to solve them.
The use of contemporary psychological methods is important in gaining a deeper understanding of the behavioural mechanisms contributing to environmental harmful choices to enable us to develop more effective policies and possibly regulations or other approaches to address environmental challenges.
We've been working with experts including BehaviorWorks Australia to better understand how we can use behavioural insights to positively influence behaviour.
I remember seeing the bird show at Healesville and I remember one key message that with the birds and with training a positive message is going to generate a much better response than a negative one.
So how do we actually create a more positive environment?
Again as many of you know under a new environment protection act and general environmental duty which commences on the 1st of July 2020 (actually 2021) all people in Victoria must minimise risks of harm so far as is reasonably practicable and that is both the harm to the environment and human health, supporting EPA to deliver our role of protecting the environment from pollution and waste. So understanding Victorian’s drivers barriers attitudes to pollution and waste are critical for us to actually create that change environment. So it gives me great pleasure to introduce our guest speaker for today um Dr Jeni Cross.
Dr Jeni Cross is a professor in the department of sociology, director of research at the institute for the built environment and director of the institute for research in the social sciences at Colorado State University. Her areas of expertise include conservation, community development, organisational network analysis, social norms and behaviour change. Her passion is applying the tools of social science, theory and research methods, to help communities and organizations create thriving communities and transformational change. For example she's created social marketing projects to improve radon mitigation, reduce substance abuse and increase energy conservation. Her current projects include working with NGO’s, municipalities and governmental agencies to seek new strategies for regenerative development in cities and agriculture.
So please join me in welcoming Jeni today.
Hello. I am really delighted and honoured to be here. It takes me a second to get myself totally collected because the work that we are doing is deeply important and whenever I talk about this stuff that is so important my students will tell you the first day of class I teach this class on applied social change, I get really choked up and it's only because we're talking about things that are essentially important to ourselves and the well-being of the planet.
So I thank you for having me here today.
The picture here you see on the screen is my neighbourhood. It is the place in northern Colorado where my family came to four generations ago and it's luckily the place that I get to live.
So we all know that the earth is the source of all life and if we're not protecting it, we're not protecting ourselves. There are two ideas that all indigenous cultures share in common with each other and one is that human beings are interdependent on the natural environment and the places in which they live. This notion, this idea of interdependence has always been here it has just been forgotten and we've allowed other mental models and ideas to overtake it.
The second idea that indigenous peoples all share in common with each other is a notion and idea of responsibility that because we are deeply intertwined with place we are also responsible for it.
Last year I had the privilege to work and to learn in the state of Hawaii.
I was working with a school there that really wanted to embrace their responsibility to the land and they were teaching me about the Hawaiian cultural concepts and one of them the one about responsibility is called “kuleana” and when they explained it to me I learned something new.
I came to understand and think about responsibility in a new way that for the native Hawaiians responsibility is both a privilege and something that we have an obligation for.
That obligation comes from the privilege of our past and our ancestors all of the things that we have been given and receive but it also assumes an idea of reciprocity. That responsibility is about our relationship with the people and places to whom we are responsible and this was a new idea for me.
The way in the united states we talk about responsibility as we talk about actions and things. Those things I should do I’m responsible for doing acts, but the Hawaiians talk about responsibility more in this relational nature about our responsibility to people and place and to spirit.
So I want to begin with thinking about that idea.
This is a picture of my land uh little flowers that grow there in the spring and it is a privilege that my ancestors settled this land four generations ago. It is a privilege that I get to live here with my children. If I think about this relational idea of responsibility then it causes me to say something different, it causes me to say I am responsible to so to whom and to what am I responsible?
I am responsible to my children there are literally hundreds of actions that I think about every day that come from my responsibility to my children, to their future and to the future of their children who I hope will one day walk the earth.
I’m also responsible to my land and the responsibility to my land then grows my obligations and actions.
It means that we set the mower high so that it doesn't destroy the native cactus on our property. It means that I teach my children about caring for the property. We make choices about where and how we mow in order to support the native grasses, to seed themselves and also to reduce fire risk and this is work I don't do by myself this is work I do with my husband, for we are responsible together for our land.
I’m also responsible to my neighbours, to my neighbourhood, and my neighbourhood includes not just me and my little family and the parcel that we live on, it also includes all the animals that are there. So the choices we make about supporting the native plants to be happier and thriving and removing the exotic species, these are all things that provide food for hummingbirds and shelter for the rabbits that my kids delight in watching every spring.
My responsibilities move outward from my home and my family to my students. Every year it's my job to cultivate the skills and knowledge in a group of students.
To them I’m responsible to understand and know them and engage them as whole human beings, to develop their skills and capacity to make a difference in the world. That's what education is about and it causes me to think differently about what I’m doing in the classroom when I understand that my responsibility is to them and to their capacity and to the potential that they have for making impact in the world
My responsibility moves out beyond Colorado State University, it moves to other universities and schools. This is a young woman from a public school district near me. Because I’m at a land-grant university part of our mission is engagement and translating and taking science and knowledge out into the world to support the economy of our state.
So the work that I have funded by the American EPA is investigating the impact of green schools on students health and well-being and rather than that being just an academic study that we're doing in labs.
We're engaging students in those schools and teachers in those schools to create their own problem-based learning sets, providing them with resources and knowledge and understanding that those students increase their capacity to understand their place and to know how they can protect it. How they can cultivate human thriving in their own place. That's my greatest opportunity for impact is increasing their capacity and their potential.
I also have the responsibility to my state. Super excited about this picture here. It's a day I had fantastic gas mileage on my Honda Accord. now you know I’m a scientist which means I got super geeky and the EPA publishes a whole bunch of tools for how to assess what car is going to make the smallest contribution to the brown cloud. This is what winter looks like and we have high ozone days we have temperature inversions that create this all along the planes. So in my state the EPA's little widget on the website told me that the most fuel-efficient car and the car that would contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions because so much of our power comes from coal plants, is not a full electric, not a plug-in hybrid just a straight-up hybrid, So I got to buy a Honda and it tells me at the end of every trip how did how good I’ve done that day but I chose this when we moved out into the foothills, out into the valleys that you saw because I knew that my commute was going to be longer and my responsibility to my state and to people and to the health and well-being of everyone who lives there, people who have asthma like my son, and like my aunt I have a responsibility to them to make the smallest impact that I can.
I’m not super happy about this what I really want is a car that I can put a big bumper sticker on the back that says powered by the wind because you know we have a lot of wind and sun in Colorado.
Now this is not a reality yet for me to have a car that's totally powered by the sun or the wind but I’m holding out hope that one day that will be the case.
I also have a responsibility to our public lands. You know that the United States of America has vast tracts of public lands owned by states and counties in the federal government and protecting this land is also a part of my responsibility. I have the responsibility to teach my children to leave no trace for all of us to cultivate and support places where wild animals and ecologies are able to thrive.
Now you get to talk to each other I want you to think for a moment about to whom and to what places you are responsible, and I’d like you to turn and talk to your neighbour and say I take these actions because of my responsibility to whom. So take a moment and talk to your neighbours.
Thank you for indulging me and getting to know your neighbours
I want to think just for a second, I want you to notice how did it feel to say I am responsible to.
Now you all came here not to hear me talk about responsibility but maybe you did because there is this new environmental duty that Australians are all thinking about or at least Victorians anyway. Maybe not all Australians. People come up to me and they ask me all the time they say “Dr Cross what is the one thing I can do to get people to change their behaviour? What's the most important thing I can do in my organization, in my apartment complex, wherever..” and I say to them there are a few dozen things that you could do and the most important and the most impactful thing, I don't know but you know who does? Your people. The people in that place.
So I want you to begin with that playing field I want you to think about the fact that the people in a place are the ones who hold the greatest wisdom for changing that place. Today I’m going to talk about a different way of thinking about change that's not just all about behaviour.
You're all familiar with this now this is an idea a kind of framework that I stole from David Gerson who wrote a book called Social Change 2.0
He describes the old way of doing social change as being about regulations and about penalties or incentives to encourage certain behaviours and about creating social movements.
Now all these tools have a place they're necessary we need them and we can use them but by themselves they really don't create the change that we are seeking in the world. So I want to propose a different framework. Now this is like the rough version 1.0.
I’ve been talking about this since my ted talk in 2012 or 2013 and I’ve been talking about the myths of behaviour change which is focused mostly on the psychology of change and every year every place I go like when I went to Hawaii last year, I’m learning something new from the people that I interact with and I’m consulting with. They teach me new things and every year I expand my tools and knowledge and understanding and so this is the current iteration.
The next time you see me talk it'll be slightly different. So here's what it is today it's an idea about what transformative change looks like. How can we create transformative change in the world. So these are the topics I’m going to discuss I’m going to talk about a vision.
How change begins with a vision about the potential and something new that we might create.
I’m going to talk and we've already talked about responsibility and commitment and how that increases our capacity to manifest a vision. I’m going to talk about how do we evolve systems. This I think is the work that we should all be about. That we are actually not here to think about how do we change behaviour.
If we see behaviours in the world that are creating outcomes they are polluting streams or contributing to climate change, if we see behaviours that we think are destructive I want you to know that it the behaviours are a reflection of the system and if we want those behaviours to shift we must be about the work of shifting systems.
I’m going to talk about social technologies because that's really why you brought me here today and then we're going to think about how do we leverage change so that we can make… when we start with one thing how do we make it bigger often the question is how do we get to scale and I’m going to think about it more about as leverage and the growing and iterative evolution of change rather than as getting to scale.
Vision everything begins with a clear vision what is it what is the potential that we want to create in the world? That is where all change begins and it's the first step. So I’m going to just give three quick examples one from my school district. I have the honour and privilege to be a graduate of Fort Collins High School. To have spent all of my young years in a public education system in this school district.
In 1999 the architect and the head of operations and a handful of other folks said our buildings are not serving students. They are not serving the finances of the district, they are not serving the planet. We can do better and they created a vision to build green schools that are light on the environment, that are not toxic to kids that are comfortable, that aren't overwhelmingly loud with noise, that are better places to be and to learn. It was easy for them to create this vision because most people who work in public schools begin all of their considerations with thinking about their responsibility to children. When we think about our responsibility to children it's easy to see that green schools are the path that we must take
Currently I’m working on a whole variety of projects related to transforming the agricultural system and there are people all over the world that are beginning to talk about a new idea called regenerative agriculture. It's not terribly different from a sustainable agriculture that people have been talking about for decades. They've been talking about how do we produce food to feed the world in ways that use nature's wisdom? Instead of disrupting it and cutting ourselves off from it how do we really use it? So there's a young couple here from New South Wales who decided that they were unhappy with their lives and they wanted better quality of life for themselves, and so they decided to become farmers. And as they talked to other local farmers they were introduced to this idea of regenerative agriculture and as they had heard other people talk to them about the vision of regenerative agriculture that restores the land and supports native plants and is able to produce food for people, without reliance on chemicals, they were excited by that vision.
And they knew that it would be challenging and hard because it's not the current system but they were so compelled by the vision that they said we must go after that and that choice to go after it comes from their feelings of responsibility for themselves, for their family, for their place and for their community.
There are other examples of people creating a vision. In 2009 a woman in the Netherlands came up with this idea for repair cafes. She was really not satisfied with the current consumerist systems that we have where we buy appliances and they just break down. I bought my first house with my husband in 2004 I was super frustrated that within five years we had to buy a new dishwasher, a new refrigerator and I go to the appliance guys and I’m like why am I buying a new one instead of getting this repaired? And they said “Oh the average lifespan of a washing machine is seven years”. And I thought to myself are you kidding me? The dishwasher in my house when I was a kid and the washing machine on the back porch those were 30 years old when I moved out what has happened?
So other people have had this same thought and they've said we have lost our ability to care and repair for things so this idea this vision that we could return to a mental model where things are repaired, rather than tossed out and replaced was so compelling that between 2009 and now 2019 there are now 1500 repair cafes popping up in cities, in 33 countries.
So a vision that is compelling has a momentum and potential of its own because it is tackling the system.
It's not saying how do we persuade people not to throw their stuff away. It's asking the question what is wrong with the system that makes buying a new washing machine easier than repairing it and can we fix the system?
I know I already talked a little bit about responsibility and this idea that responsibility comes out of our interdependence and our relationship with others, but I want to revisit it just a little bit.
In the US we were just taken by storm by Greta Thunberg. A young woman who is pretty tired of grown-ups and powerful people and knowledgeable scientists not taking responsibility and not taking action on the scientific knowledge that they have.
Now we might think oh Greta is just an example of someone who's inspiring a social movement. Sid you see the hundreds of thousands of people that came out for climate strikes? But Greta is not at all interested in building a social movement her message is not about taking to the streets. Her message is about responsibility and the most compelling and powerful things that she have said is that you are failing in your responsibility to me politicians and leaders are not living up to their responsibility to young people of the world now and in the future and this is her message. It is about responsibility.
So while there are people that Greta is furious with, and probably rightly so, there are people who have taken up the yoke of their own responsibility.
We see this in school districts around the world, that they are taking responsibility. We see this in businesses that have said we have a responsibility to people, and we're seeing it in the lower levels of government. So here in Australia the environmental duty is being posed by a state not, by the nation. In my hometown the most aggressive climate action goals were set by a city, not by the nation.
So this is the school that I worked with last year Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and what is important to know about them is that when they were thinking about a sustainability plan, they were thinking about how working towards sustainability not only makes their school more successful but how it enlivens everyone if they begin with the cultural values that are native to Hawaii. This is the vision that inspires people and it comes out of the native values about caring for community and spirit and land. So it is a return to that ancient wisdom that I talked about at the very beginning.
Business leaders around the world are calling on each other to take up their responsibility for caring for places, for people and for the environment. And cities have elected all of their own to sign on to climate challenges and goals because they know that doing so is what will support their well-being in the future. City government leaders understand the value of caring for their place and so it's not surprising that we see the acts of responsibility emerging from within places where people understand and identify with a group of people that are embedded in place.
Now you asked me to talk about how do we create a culture of change? And the first thing I want you to understand is this idea of charismatic leaders that comes out of the social science literature.
Charismatic leaders are leaders because they have a vision that is so compelling other people follow them. Other people get excited and buy onto the vision and join up.
Greta has posited a vision that is compelling to people which is why hundreds of thousands of people have been marching in the street. She is a charismatic leader not because she is in a position of power, not because she's the CEO of a company but because she has a vision.
So change looks like this.
Leaders express a vision that is perceived to be authentic and compelling. They declare their own responsibility and their commitment to taking action and when they do that other people say I want to join.
As new people join on then yet more people also join. Typically what happens is that we begin to enrol people that are diverse and slightly different from us and they see the potential of that vision to help solve their own dilemmas. They see opportunities and uniqueness that they can bring to that vision in their place and in their sphere of influence, in their school, in their community, in their neighbourhood
And all of those people begin to link to each other to begin to build a community of practice but most importantly what happens when leaders inspire and enlist others is that they grow their capacity to influence the system. This group a network of folks has a much deeper capacity to go after systems change than one person alone or one group that is terribly homogeneous.
So I want you to think about how do we express passion and excitement that enlists others and that by joining together with others we grow our capacity to make change.
Now remember I said this is not about behaviour change. The work that we must be about is about evolving systems. The good work that we need to do in the world is inherently place based. Knowledge sits in places. Now this is not my idea this is one of the things that anthropologists who study indigenous people say wisdom sits in places. Knowledge and wisdom is deeply embedded in the people and communities and history of a place.
Places are always complex systems. All places are situated in a natural environment and an ecosystem. The valley that I showed you in that first picture sits at the intersection of two ecosystems, the plains and the mountains. The native peoples who lived there most recently were the Cheyenne and Arapaho, but if you look at a map of the history of the tribes of native peoples in Colorado and you look for my town Fort Collins, you'll see this intersection intersecting circles of literally dozens of tribes and it's because those places that are intersections between ecosystems are places that are lively and draw people to them.
So part of the history and the heritage of my place is that it is a place of mixing of species and of peoples and that gives us a potential that doesn't exist in other places.
So all places begin with that natural system and environment. Then layered over it are the things that people put in place. We build rivers and roads and houses. In Colorado we plant giant urban forests, we put in infrastructure and then we also layer all the factors of the social realm, the economy, social networks, institutions, churches, schools all of those social systems are part of place. So when we start to think about how do we evolve a system I want you to understand that we're talking about evolving complex socio ecological systems. Now I know we started with kind of an easy question how do we create culture change and now I’ve just blown it up and made it much bigger and much more complex but I want you to know that that complexity is actually the opportunity for us to create greater change.
My favourite systems thinker is Donella Meadows who said “we cannot impose our will on a system we listen to what the system tells us and discover how its properties and our values work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.” So I hope that you find this quote inspiring rather than overwhelming by thinking about how complex places are and systems are. I want you to understand that getting to know a place and watching and observing and understanding the system is the way forward. It's the way that we are able to see and envision a greater potential than if we were just sitting alone in our offices thinking about how can I get “x” group of people to change “y” behaviour.
So we're going to talk about systems change let's have a mental model that helps us wrap our heads around this complex idea. Ihis is the picture I like the best it's called the iceberg model and there are two big ideas in it. The first big idea is that we spend most of our time and our money and energy thinking about and studying events. Documenting how the climate is changing, assessing pollution, documenting trends but what shapes all of those events is the stuff that's under the water and we spend much less of our time thinking about all of that stuff under the water. Donella Meadows says that your leverage point, your capacity, your opportunity for making change is much greater the further down the iceberg that you go. So we're going to interrogate this and think about a little bit more.
There we go oh I just didn't see the animations moving.
So two big ideas that leverage moves up the system. That the things at the bottom are generating and creating the levels above them. So that mental models generate structures and structures create the conditions for behaviour. So this is the most important thing I want you to get we think about behaviours and we almost always consider them and think about them in isolation. We forget that behaviours are just in the middle of an iceberg. They produce events and outcomes that we may or may not like but they are actually the product of the structures and mental models below them and if we are not thinking about these layers below then we are not seeking the most powerful solutions to behaviour.
So if influence moves up, leverage is down at the bottom.
So understanding systems when we think about events we think about global warming, we think about increasing disasters, in the united states right now we're thinking about the massive scale of forest fires and how those can happen any year. How massive floods can happen any year they're no longer happening once every 100 years there they could be happening every single year. We could be thinking about air pollution or hypoxic lakes. We are spending billions of dollars studying these things. These are the outcomes of our systems they are not what is wrong with the system.
What is wrong with the system is everything below it. So we have patterns of behaviour that exist at the individual level, the organizational level, the state level, the nation level and if we're not thinking about the patterns of behaviour that produce those things then we're missing the boat.
In my state people have an average commute time of 30 minutes. That has consequences and it produces brown clouds.
Every year, every school district that I talk to in the country every university says they're trying to figure out how to deal with this increasing pattern.
Every year they know their energy use budget needs to go up, because the total kilowatt hours used on their campus, per square foot, is also going up. This pattern of behaviour isn't just about individual choices it's about the system and what structures underlie those behaviours that are producing longer commute times, increasing demand for electricity. If we don't get to understand how our tax codes and regulations and financial markets and infrastructures and social systems produce those larger shifting patterns of behaviour, if we just ask the question about how do we get people to change behaviour we're completely missing the opportunity for greater leverage and greater change.
So here's one of my favourite examples. When we think about structures one of the easiest structures the most tangible ones to get our hands around are transportation structures and several years ago I was talking with some scientists from the university in Graz, Austria and they were talking about people's frustration with this group of people living in one sector of the city and their commute. So many more of them were commuting by car and they were trying to figure out how to tackle this and then they put in a tram line. And what happened commuting my car went down. So I just give that to you as a really tangible simple example of how structures shape behaviour and how changing the structure is the greater leverage than just going after people's behaviour. So if we're thinking in this sector people's behaviours are different we need to understand how can we change the system to make the desired behaviour easy and the obvious choice and there are many structures that might have an influence here.
At the very bottom of the iceberg are mental models. Those are our value systems and the way we think. So I talked before a little bit about appliances what is the mental model that underlies appliances getting tossed out?
That mental model is about creating new customers, right? Maintaining consumer demand. So as long as our mental model is maintained consumer demand we can't unstick people. If we try to get people to buy other appliances or to repair them right we're fighting that tide. So changing our mental models seems like the place to start.
Sometimes it's a place to start its powerful we want to shift it but change almost always doesn't start there. Here in Victoria we have the great privilege of having new legislation which is in the structural level and it poses a new mental model. It is progressive and new because it is based on a different mental model. Instead of thinking about regulate and provide penalties for doing harm, it says all Victorians must consider their responsibility and duty to the environment and to people and to place. When we posit new mental models they have the great potential to be empowering and to support changes in the rest of the system. By themselves they don't make change alone but they give people permission and new language to talk about how structures can change and they support people in supporting new behaviours.
One of my favourite examples of new mental models is that the B Corporation. How many of you have heard of and know of B Corporations?
Yes some of you. Okay.
So this is a new legal designation for companies and it begins with this premise: companies are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. This is a fundamentally different mental model than the idea that the primary and only responsibility of companies is to the financial gain of shareholders. This mental model took root in the 1980s and has dominated the economy in many places since then. This is a model that people who feel a sense of responsibility have argued for and they made real by creating a new legal structure that is supported by a mental model that is founded on the idea of interdependence and responsibility to others. One of my favourite big corporations is a brewing company in my hometown, New Belgium. So I get to use them as an example because I know them really well and they're my neighbours and the slogan for B Corporations is “Be a force for good.”
So that's what they have they produce a sustainability, accountability report every year and I want you to notice how they talk about their responsibility. Beer is made possible by well-functioning ecosystems and stable societies and we know we have a role in stewarding those.
So notice that they are speaking of their relationship and dependence on the well-being of places and people, of a thriving socio-ecological system. That is the foundational understanding that allows them to take new action.
Now we started this section thinking about where do we begin. People ask me all the time they say Dr Cross “We have a lot of passionate people in my organization. how do we get the leaders on board? We want new laws, we want new company policies, we want new values.”
And I’m here to tell you that one of the useful and fun things about the iceberg is that relationships are moving up and down all the time. Most change begins as I said before with charismatic leaders. People who have a vision and who are excited and adopt new behaviours and enlist others. It is this new set of behaviours that is where change begins.
As enough people begin adopting new behaviours they have increased capacity to put pressure on the system to make change, to ask for structural changes, to implement structural changes.
Most of the companies I’ve talked to that are making systemic change like in commercial buildings and are going after energy efficiency have guys behind the scenes. It's often the IT department that are the first because they really have their fingers on the pulse of energy consumption, right? If they have server rooms they know how much it takes to keep those servers cool, they know what people are doing with their computers and their monitors overnight. We don't see them and they're not the face of most companies but they're back there behind the scenes and they kind of know what's going on and as they begin to adopt new practices they have the capacity to enlist and encourage others.
As they adopt conservation other people say hey I like that vision I want to do something too, let's change what's happening in break rooms, let's change what's happening with coffee, let's change what's happening with all the disposable water bottles that we buy all the time. So I see IT and companies as being often some of the first charismatic champions. So charismatic champions might be one person or they might be a whole department inside an organization making change and as they enlist others they have the ability to push down and to say what are the structures in our company, what are our policies what are the regulations that we follow what change can we make?
And as those structures change then it makes it easier for new behaviours to happen.
So I want you all to understand that while greater leverage comes from lower in the iceberg most change doesn't start with mental models. It starts with some people who take responsibility and have that relational mental model that they then adopt behaviours that then moves through the system.
I was just looking recently at New Belgium’s most recent 2018 sustainability report and I noticed something really interesting. They have three priorities. Number one is to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. So notice that that aligns very neatly with the behaviour piece, right? We are going to change our behaviour.
Number two we are going to encourage others to reduce. So notice that looks like charismatic champions enlisting other people in the cause, growing their sphere of influence and then number three.
I’m sorry this looks weird here. Advocating for better climate policies. Climate policies exist at that structural level. So they are changing their own behaviours, enlisting other people in the fight and advocating for structural change. All of this is rooted in and comes from them being a B Corporation that they have made a commitment to being in relationship and stewarding the well-being of place.
So now I want to talk, now that we've got an idea about evolving the system, I want to think about the role that social technology plays in evolving the system.
There are people that have been working on systems change for a long time and they have really good models. They're called public health professionals. Any public health folks in the room? Yeah I know there's some you know. The health and safety folks are good at this too. They understand about vision and values and enlisting other people.
So in the world of public health we've been using this model for decades. It's called the social ecological model. It assumes that human beings are nested in systems. That each one of these layers has a unique influence on human behaviour and has the capacity to change it. If we want to go after a public health problem like smoking you have got to build strategies that go after every one of these levels.
So a quit line is targeting individuals, bringing people to group therapy is targeting the interpersonal helping people to build relationships with people that understand them and can support them. Making change in organisations, my university has outlawed tobacco, banned tobacco products on campus for a long time only recently have they changed all their signs to say this includes all e-cigarettes because in the US we're starting to see, and maybe in Australia too I don't know, people going into acute lung failure because of their use of e-cigarettes.
Our community also banned public smoking. Organizations were some of the first and they did it because they were thinking about their responsibility to their employees. Customers were often mad about and they're like hey what about us you know this is where we socialize and we want to be able to engage in this behaviour, but companies made a strong and compelling argument that banning smoking in their facility was a necessity for them to care for and to protect the health and well-being of their employees. And that message about responsibility and health and protection was part of what helped sway public opinion, this was a good thing to do.
I have markets here highlighted in a different colour. We often don't think about markets as actually being something that we're all interacting with all the time but we are and markets can be a force for change. They're never a force for change all by themselves but they're one of the strategies. Public health folks don't talk about markets as much as some other scientists thinking about change.
And then policy and governance this is one of our favourites we know this it's in the old mental model right the very first mental model about change is like regulate it, ban it, fine it, right?
So we know that that can make a difference but most change being done by policy actually starts at lower levels. It starts with cities and counties and municipalities rather than with the highest levels of states.
So if we just take this model and we apply it to environmental issues, to conservation and environmental protection, it looks much the same just a new colour scheme.
So the system of human influence includes all of these levels and what I want you to know about these levels is this: every one of them has unique influence on human behaviour. Every one of these levels has multiple scientific disciplines that are experts in that level and not only do they know what are the forces that act on individuals and what characterizes individual behaviour, they also have a set of toolkits that are specific to that level. The tools for organisational change are not the same as the tools for persuading individuals, which are not the same as the tools for engaging a whole community in a place based effort.
So there are a dozen disciplines of social science and not one of them is what you need, all of them are what you need for projects.
So not only does each layer have its own individual influence, almost every project and change effort requires engaging across levels. So I’m going to give you a quick example. Rocky Mountain National Park wanted to reduce the waste stream and so we did a trash audit we found everywhere, trailheads, campgrounds, behind in the rangers quarters, that the trash stream looked like this. A third rubbish, a third compost and a third recycling, but only about 10 and up ended up in recycle bins. So how do we get that third that is recycling into recycling bins?
So we went out and observed, chatted with people looked at what people were doing found the place that was producing the greatest volume of trash which is family campgrounds and built a strategy there. Unfortunately that strategy includes some best practices in recycling which is get the trash can immediately next to the to the recycling can. Put them right next to each other separating them by 5 or 10 feet can reduce recycling by as much as 90 percent. This has been known for 30 years but people still want us to persuade people to recycle and use all kinds of messages instead of just put the trash cans together and have them be the same size if the volume is the same. Or if the volume of recycling is five times what rubbish is then get the recycling can to be five times the size of the rubbish bin. So we see some universities giving people big recycling cans in their offices because they mostly have drink canisters and paper they have tiny amounts of rubbish and they have these little rubbish bins that like hang over the edge of the recycling can so that you're sizing it right. So we made a plan for that we gave people reusable grocery bags, we gave them little information about and what we asked at the park was to put two signs and two hooks on the end of every picnic table, one that said trash and one that said recycling, and you know what facilities said we can't put hooks on picnic tables. And you know the rangers said we don't really want to talk to people about that.
So we can design the best community-based social marketing that includes all of the proven strategies but if organisations don't buy in and aren't willing to change their practices we can't actually move the needle the way that we want. So in all of the change practices I’ve been involved in the ones that are successful, the ones that are mediocre, and the ones that are meh… all of them require that we have strategies at more than one level. And this is one of the things that I’ve learned through practice nobody taught me this, I’ve just learned it through frustration and failure and when I look at practices that are successful the most outrageously successful programs in Canada, they have reduced pesticide use in lawns, in California they have been transforming lawns to try to reduce water use. The most successful programs go after structures and use tools at all of these layers.
So I want you to ask this question: “how does one tool, creating change at one level make it easier to make change at another?”
So think about the tools as supporting each other and every one of those tools as helping to loosen up the system somewhere else.
I’ll tell you a story about a school that I was asked to study in 2007. Rocky Mountain High School reduced their electricity consumption by 50 percent and no one knew how it happened. They asked me if I could come figure it out. So I interviewed people and had focus groups and walked around the school and observed them and then I studied other schools and I was still trying to figure out what was unique about the school and what I figured out is that this school not only used many more strategies, they used each strategy to support each other. Change at this school began with the behaviour of the district energy manager. He started paying attention to and tracking energy use at every school and he started managing to try to reduce peak load every day in order to try to reduce the cost to the system.
Peak load is a thing that influences the charges that school districts have. They don't just get charged a flat rate for the total use they get charged for how much they use during the peak use time of the day. So his behaviour changed then he asked for permission from the superintendent for them to keep all the money that they saved and they wanted to do two things with it, they wanted to give half of it back to schools as rebates to encourage them to engage in more behaviour change and they wanted to keep the other half and invest in a fund for their ongoing green conservation efforts, right?
So now you see they're working at two levels, right? They're working at structure and they're working at behaviour and they're doing what charismatic champions do, they're enlisting others.
So one of the early charismatic leaders was a custodian and he changed his pattern of behaviour and all of the custodial staff. After he changed theirs he got placed on the school accountability team which is not a place that custodians usually get to spend their time. So he had the privilege of being on a decision-making team because he was included there he felt like he had permission to ask teachers and other people to also change their behaviours. So now we see another charismatic champion emerge and enlist others. Then there was a science teacher and he decided to focus all of his efforts around sustainability for the school, including recycling and water use and energy consumption and he formed an environmental club for students. When the first rebates came back in the principal did something different. At most schools principals just stocked that money and stuck it away in their budget so they had a slush fund. But this principal gave it to the environmental studies teacher and said: “Dave, I think you should decide how we spend this rebate” and Dave gave that money to the students and said to the students “How would you like to spend it? the students said “We should spend it on wind power we should buy wind power so that we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions” so they went back to the energy manager for the district they said “Hey Stu, can we buy wind power?” and Stu said “Yeah I can buy it in a block for you.” Stu had to be willing to go outside the box outside, the traditional structures of purchasing power in order to do that but he was willing to, right? And so he did. Now the purchasing of that wind power is held by the principal in the main office. Whether they get rebates from Stu or not, this school still buys wind power because the principal got committed to it. The students went a step further and they said “We want to use that block of wind power during the month of April because April is when earth day happens and so we want to do education around it.” So what mattered in the school is not any one strategy that went after behaviour, they didn't do it in a sequence, they used each tool for change to enlist more people in different sectors and inspire yet more change in the system. So I want you to be thinking about that.
Here's another example I pulled up the scientific literature and case studies on the strategies that were used in Canada to reduce residential pesticide use and for every case study, every application I just ticked off the list of the social change toolkits and strategies that they used and then I made a network map of all of them.
The message I want you to get from this network map is the same as the message from the school district. Social change tools are never used alone. It's not one tool that is the secret to change. It is how one tool can increase and support the effectiveness of another. So while we see penalties being used, while we see regulations and policy, regulations and policies by themselves are never enough it is how they work in constellation with others and how they support people at different systems. How we include individual homeowners, how we influence organisations like nurseries that are selling pesticides, how we influence other businesses, like landscaping companies that are managing large tracts of property, how the municipality manages their own land. It's that constellation of tools that are what create great success.
So I’ll talk about three things so far. Get clear on your values. Talk about it, share it and enlist others.
I’ve talked about how we need a whole variety of social science toolkits that exist at different levels and that we've got to be about the effort of evolving systems. So now I want to talk a little bit about how do we create leverage?
How do we take success in one place and expand it and move it to others? There are two things I want you to know about leveraging change. The first is that change is emergent and when we think about emergent things it means that they are not linear. There is not one step that is always the first and is then followed by the second step. So change is not linear and as people begin to coalesce around ideas and activities and bring other people together new ideas and possibilities emerge that we could not imagine to begin with.
After I worked with Rocky Mountain High School and published a couple of articles about creating a culture of conservation in that school, then we got asked by other school districts around the country to help make a road map for them. How can other schools do what was accomplished in the Poudre School District? and after observing and interviewing and getting to know dozens of schools that had been going after their own sustainability, we came to understand this property of change, excuse me, as being non-linear.
So the framework that we posted is this the whole school sustainability framework. It has three big sectors. The activities that are happening around the building, so these look like energy managers like Stu and custodians and people who are designing and maintaining buildings. There's the educational program that's the business of school districts is educating kids and then there's the organisational culture itself. It’s values and its policies which in many ways structure what people are doing.
What we discovered is that change always begins where it's easiest. Some schools came to me and said “Hey Jen, we had this program and we wanted to roll it out in a school and we had this school that was really eager and really excited but we got asked to put it in the school that was struggling the most and that had the highest proportion of high and reduced lunches and that had the highest proportion of minority kids I really didn't want to do it there because it didn't feel right but I’m really committed to equity so we did and it failed.” and I said to this woman this sustainability consultant I said “You know why it failed because you made the wrong choice for a good reason but not a reason informed by theories of change.” Change happens when we start, especially in organisations, with small wins, we start with the low hanging fruit.
So in addition to having charismatic champions we want to find what's that low hanging fruit, what's the easiest change we can make?
Working with the school that has the biggest struggles the hardest challenges is never the right place to start and we shouldn't burden them either.
Those teachers were frustrated and struggling they were not ready to make change but another school was. We should start there and get all the kinks worked out and then deliver a good program and make sure that we spread it to schools so that we're upholding our values of equity.
So I tell you that story because this consultant was really heartbreaking that our program didn't succeed and she really cared about equity so she was really frustrated that not only were they not successful but they were not successful in that school and I really felt for her but I just wanted to say you've got to have the guts to say the research on organisational change says that change begins with small wins. Where is the first place that you can get traction? because that traction elevates change and brings other people into the fold. So every school district starts at the point on the wheel that is the small win for them. The easiest place to start is always the place to start
So I just took away all those labels so I’m just going to tell two quick stories at Rocky Mountain High School we saw some change begin with the district energy manager that cared about efficiency and progressive efficiency. The custodians were wrapped up in that so the first champions were over on the facilities side. Then they started working together with a science teacher who was really excited and the first thing he did was start a student group. After they had done that the students started producing a whole ton of incredible communication materials they made videos, they made posters, they made newsletters, they talked to parents, they sent out emails, I was bombarded with communication materials that these kids had created. After that they enlisted the principal. So for all of you who want to start change with your leader I want you to know that leaders who are on board help but change almost never begins with them. Sometimes it does it's way more important to have charismatic leaders across the organisation.
So another school I love Ponerosa High School the custodian this school said to me once he said “Jen I am not satisfied. We have only made 38 percent in our reduction of electricity. Rocky got to 50. I want to know how am I going to get there? I have plans I have big plans my next plans are getting rid of this exterior lighting it's the most energy efficient stuff. Now I’m still after safety but our parking lot does not need to be lit up like a Christmas tree 24/7. I’m going after that.”
So they too had a charismatic champion in their custodian and that's not where it started. It started with a staff member who started a student organization called Peace Jam and you might ask Peace Jam that got to do with energy conservation? but Peace Jam is a student organization that understands their responsibility to the planet and that caring for the earth is the source of peace and if we want to create peace in the world we must also be working towards environmental goals.
Then they got allied with this charismatic champion the custodian and they had more charismatic champions. They had a district sustainability leader, they had a principal who was known to walk around the people's offices and say “Susie the lights are on but no one's home!”
If you were not in your office and your lights were on, the principal was going to yell it to everyone around. You wouldn't hear about it but you would hear about it later. Then they started working on how to help teachers learn from each other and how to help school districts across the district learn from each other.
Then they started thinking about how can we actually change our buildings so that they might be better places for students to learn?
So I show these pictures with the little criss crossing paths because I want you to really understand that change is not linear it is emergent. One change inspires and provokes new ideas from other people there's not a path there are many paths to change.
Just to revisit this graphic about how the people form a network, a community of practice and it is this community of practice that has increasing capacity. There's a whole plethora of research on social networks that talk about how the changing structure of networks allow us to improve our capacity to change. So from the field of community development, Krebs and Holley and a whole bunch of other folks studying economic development and food systems change, all talk about a really similar model. Community networks tend to look like this to begin with. Little pockets of people working together in their sector or their sphere but they're disconnected and as long as they remain disconnected their capacity to work together and to make change is limited.
As they evolve their own capacity and list more people they begin to be more connected. Typically an organisation takes up the job of being a hub to try to coordinate activities around a topic in a sector or around solving a particular problem. So this next stage is known as the hub and spoke.
After that we start to see more hubs emerge and the network becomes yet more dense and as that density increases the capacity to change the system also changes. People's credibility, their ideas, their knowledge exchange and their capacity to deal with complex problems also improve and change. What I have found in the study of innovative design teams, college classrooms, scientific teams that are solving really challenging problems and all of these networks from the field of community development, from people that are working on big conservation programs in Africa to people working on rural health and well-being in the United States, where populations are declining all of them find that this core periphery structure is the advanced state that we're trying to get communities to be.
In the middle you have these densely connected people who know each other trust each other and share information. Information flows through this network but to be innovative the science on networks and creativity show that we all need to also have access to information from a diverse group of people outside of us. So when we have small teams that are deeply connected, we know each other well enough to keep progressing in our work together. We trust each other enough to try difficult things but the knowledge that comes from the diversity in that periphery is what helps us to be truly innovative and to solve these complex problems. We can see these types of groups develop and I’ve seen them in my own studies in numerous places that at one time a project looks like in their first year of being a coalition, as a hub and spoke, and after two or three years they can progress to being this core periphery which has the capacity and creativity to tackle difficult things.
Now in addition to attending to and thinking about how do we build networks and our relationships with people and enlist diverse people in our effort I also want you to think about what I said about markets. Some of whats going on with markets can feel like it really impinges us as an individual consumer. I’m super frustrated with the appliance market and the repair market because the choice I want to make is extremely difficult.
Repairing my dishwasher is way harder than I want it to be. So as an individual consumer I’m often stuck in the middle of a supply chain without any ability to change the system but if you're a business or an organisation in the middle of a supply chain you have greater capacity to make change. So the Poudre school district I’ve already talked about their vision and then what they did in one school. When they started working with architects to build buildings in their 2000 bond they said you're going to relate to us differently. We're going to build a network and they built a network that looks like that corporate for you just saw. They said you're going to relate to us, you're going to know us, you're going to engage with us for the long term so that we can try to build buildings that at the moment we do not know are possible. What they built were buildings that were 40 percent more efficient, that went from an 80 EUI to a 40 EUI which is energy use intensity and that cost 95 percent of the average cost of construction to build. Now those schools score an energy star score of 100 and still do over a decade after they first got built. They said you're going to relate to us differently, you're going to be part of a network, you're an engaging community ,you're going to know us and we're going to innovate together. What happened as the result of that is that the school district then had the capacity to push back on all of their suppliers to say we want better data, we want more data, we want proof that your product is actually good for the environment and better for kids and if you can't supply it we will not buy it.
They expand their network to seek knowledge from other school districts who had used it. Then that architect, who had been part of that group, they expanded their knowledge and skills the next set of buildings they set out to build their goal was 35 EUI but those buildings all came in at 32. And they said if we built them to achieve 35 and they're coming in at 32 let's set the new standard to be 25 or 30. So that they then began to influence and share knowledge with other school districts and other contractors and other communities who came to see that it was possible to build school buildings that were more comfortable more energy efficient and better for kids.
So I know the reason you all came here is to answer this question “What can I do?”
To summarize I’m going to talk about five things, expressing your own responsibility, leading with community values, engaging levels of scale, evolving the system and disseminating knowledge.
So just remember that Greta began by talking about responsibility and at first she was alone but she was brave and she was willing to speak publicly about the importance of responsibility
As I said before wisdom sits in places we must begin to speak more clearly from our community values and about the values of place.
These are the messages that resonate with people and that are deeply moving. The messages from Colorado and to Coloradans are not the messages that work in Victoria. The messages and the values come from place and they are generated by place.
I didn't realise that was animated…
Cash for grass is a program that started in California because they have a water crisis and they've got to really get a handle on that as population grows. This is a strategy that if you look at all the things that they did to replace bluegrass lawns in an air environment with native plants. They went after every one of the levels in that structure, they created interventions that tackle each of them and this is what's necessary for successful programs. So as you think about social innovations I want you to think about how are they evolving systems and how are we wrapping in as many levels of scale and social influence as we can in our solutions.
I know you look at the sign and you think a native plant nursery. How is a nursery evolving the system? But remember systems are built of structures and greenhouses are part of the infrastructure of any community. They are in the middle of a supply chain. They have the capacity to influence suppliers. They have the capacity to influence buyers. They have the capacity to not even offer exotic and invasive species so that when homeowners come looking for plants the only options they have are native ones. So I want you to see even small things that look like they might not be a big deal have the capacity to evolve the system by pushing their influence up and down the system
And finally this is my current soapbox. We are not any of us doing enough to build communities of practice, to share knowledge with other people to talk about our successes and our failures. The academic enterprise wants only to publish our successes but as Stu the energy manager from the Poudre school district says “We learn much more from sharing our failures than our success.” So we must all look for new ways that we can and will disseminate knowledge this happens to be one of my favourites from the Canadians tools of change.
If you want to know more about any of these things I’ve talked about, you can find many of them in the white papers on our website and our new book Regenerative Urban Development Climate Change And The Common Good. The chapter that I wrote with Josie Plaut is about regenerative development and it talks more about how can we use networks as a strategy for evolving systems so I thank you all for your really focused and enlivening attention. Thank you.
That was fabulous thank you. Many many thoughts are coming uh we've got about 10-15 minutes left um so we've got some time for some quick questions from the floor. I get the chance to talk with her over the next two days so I’ll leave it to you guys soon. I’ve got a quick question we've got a microphone here.
I can just speak loudly.
I am a teacher as well so I should be able to fill the room without the microphone. Just for the recording oh just for the recording okay um Thanks Jenny that was great. I suppose a couple of things came to mind as you were talking um which I wonder if you might tease out a bit more um You start with vision but of course the vision is um in many ways an engagement with existing practice. you know so there's a well
I’d like to comment on that about vision. Yes, really the definition of vision is that it is envisioning something that is not possible. So the school district was able to produce such innovative buildings. They knew they wanted to be more energy efficient and their goal was 10 percent. The energy engineer from the city we have a municipal utility in my town they said no, no, you guys have it wrong you should be able to get to 40 percent. So vision really ought to push the boundaries and is not limited by what we know is possible at the moment.
Thank you. Yeah and I suppose the other thing which is related to this as well and you touch on the problem of defensiveness. In your model I don't really get a sense as to how it's engaging with defensiveness and I’m not a Freudian, but certainly Freud identified 20 different types of defensiveness. How are you theorizing defensiveness?
Well I’m actually not theorizing defensiveness. You know what I have a slide that's not in here but it's in many of my other projects people say to me all the time, they say “Jen how do we convince the sceptics?” and to them I say read Rogers’ book on innovation and the innovation curve and recognise that the sceptics are never going to be bought in but they are 10 of the population. So you literally don't care about them.
You can create a movement by first engaging the early adopters and innovators and once you do that and have established the base, that solar panels are actually good for you and they're not costing you money and they're not a rip-off from like solar companies, then the majority is willing to come on and so this we see over and over again but this is back against that mistake that the consultant was talking to me about, right? That she got asked to deliver a program in a school based on equity not based on readiness. I cannot emphasize this enough. Change begins with the people who are ready not the people who are defensive. Your capacity to overcome defensiveness comes from enlisting and engaging more people and I diverse that. So begin with where it's easy and just ignore the sceptics.
Any other questions?
Thanks so much for the very interesting and informative talk I really appreciate what you have spoken to us. I've settled here since 25 years ago. Over the years I listened to talks and did my experiments and I actually rang up the Melbourne council a number of times try to effect some changes and it seems to be quite successful. Experiments with food waste okay? And then it finally helped the public trees and then I learned from public lectures for example in Box Hill and there was the War on Waste and all this and then I keep learning at the same time I notify Melbourne council. You know I actually save all the food waste and with permission from Victorian market, I bring it now regularly every week a few kilos of food waste into the green bin and minimize the rubbish I throw away and then it seems to be I heard that now they are trying to give us a green bin to collect all the food waste and minimize the waste for the other bin. Landfill becomes very minimal. I actually discovered some very great discovery you know. The last few years I discovered how wonderful is apple cider vinegar it keeps me healthy so I did not need to see the doctor. You google search and find out how useful it is and now I was so lucky I found a lime tree where I can pick the lime and that helps me greatly to reduce my heavy fat. So I’m not in fear of thunderstorm asthma, I know how to do to help myself.
Do you have a question? Sounds like you're doing your own experiments. Yeah, you're right.
I actually do have a question about what do you think of GM food? Why I asked because in the past I really appreciate sun kissed oranges while I was living in Hong Kong and then later they seemed to have changed it and now as a result the oranges are horrible but they still advertise on tv how wonderful the oranges are. Nobody wants to buy them and I’m wondering I suppose you're a scientist too, so what do you think of GM modify food? I worry that after the modification it cannot be reversed in in Australia
I feel very like…
Let me answer the question so you're asking my opinion about genetically modified food. So I’m a scientist, but this is not my territory. What I would say is that I generally prefer the wisdom of mother nature but that's my only comment about that. Other questions?
Last one. So jenny this ties in the media, this is a huge source of information and misinformation. Yes immediately, and it's, you haven't really touched on that but my guess is it, whether we want it to or not, it plays a significant role in the ecosystems.
Yes. So when we think about systems the media are a huge player in the system and they are not always engaged in best practices. They're not always engaged in the endeavour to change. So my advice to you about the media is that whatever your program and effort is, that you begin making friends with media producers and you begin using the media as a tool for change. It absolutely can be. Right now it's not necessarily a force for good. It can be. It's a powerful powerful tool um but we've got to engage with it in order for it to be useful.
Okay on that note, I’m a bit worried about finishing on that note that media is not a force for good and I’m sure my media colleagues are going to say “Andrea what we saying?”
I’m sure on behalf of everyone here they've really valued your presentation. I have got so much I want to talk to you about and you just think about it from as an environmental regulator with a range of environmental issues of varying complexity and priority and impact and it's quite interesting this concept of going where you're going to get success first and how you're going to do that and particularly in our space across so many different activities and organisations and entities. So I’m really looking forward to exploring some of those but please everyone, I’m sure you've all got as much out of this as I have. Please join me in thanking jenny for a great talk.
Thanks very much for everyone who's attended today. For everyone who's been listening online thank you very much this is available on EPA's website, so you can listen to this again which I think some of us will be and we're hoping to run the Environmental Science Seminar series again next year with a range of different topics, so look out for the next topic early next year. Thanks everyone.
Event date: 6 November 2019
In this Environmental Science Series event, we explored the science of behaviour change and looked at how it can help us encourage people to take more responsibility to protect the environment.
Victoria’s environment protection Regulations are set to undergo a massive transformation with the introduction of a general environmental duty (GED). The new laws place much more responsibility on organisations and individuals to do their part in protecting Victoria’s environment. Behavioural change science will play a vital role in influencing Victorians to help them comply with their obligations to protect the environment from pollution and waste.
The seminar considered several important questions, including the following:
- How can we engage people to prevent harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste?
- How can we tailor messages to different groups of people with widely different attitudes and motivations?
- Can we use behaviour change science to bring about effective long-term behaviour change for the benefit of our environment?
The session featured international guest speaker Dr Jeni Cross, Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Colorado State University. Jeni’s research has been published in journals from over a dozen distinct disciplines and her Ted Talk The 3 Myths of Behaviour Change has been viewed more than a million times and adapted in dozens of courses across the globe.
Speaker bio: Dr Jeni Cross
Dr Jeni Cross is a Professor in the Department Sociology, Director of Research at the Institute for the Built Environment, and Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Colorado State University. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California at Davis.
Her areas of expertise include conservation, community development, organisational network analysis, social norms, and behaviour change.
Jeni’s passion is applying the tools of social science (theory and research methods) to help communities and organisations create thriving communities and transformational change. For example, she has created social marketing projects to improve radon mitigation, reduce substance use, and increase energy conservation.
Her current projects include working with NGOs, municipalities, and governmental agencies to seek new strategies for regenerative development in cities and agriculture.
Speaker bio: Dr Andrea Hinwood
Dr Andrea Hinwood was appointed as Victoria's first Chief Environmental Scientist in 2017.
Dr Hinwood is an accomplished environmental scientist with specialist expertise in environmental exposures and human health.
Dr Hinwood was previously an Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University and held appointments as a member and Deputy Chair of the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia and a sessional member of the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia.
Reviewed 5 August 2020