Courses / The_Sustainability_Behavior_Stewardship_Guide: Grace, Lizzie, Adam, Allie, and Shawn

The Sustainability Behavior Stewardship Guide

For our action, we would like to create a sustainability behavior stewardship guide, in order to provide IES students and/or faculty who are already sustainably conscious with the tools necessary to spread these ideals and behaviors to others. This sustainability guide will include information and tips on how to spread one’s sustainable knowledge to others, using advertisement, flyers, encouragement, as well as personally spreading our knowledge obtained from this course. Our hope is that by providing detailed guidelines outlining specific behaviors and methods of communication, students and/or faculty will be able to learn how to spread their knowledge in teaching others how to be sustainable, resulting in an increase sustainable behavior amongst all IES faculty and students.

1. What is the action

Our action was to develop a sustainability behavior stewardship guide in order to provide IES students and/or faculty who have knowledge about sustainability with the tools necessary to spread this knowledge among others, in order others them to be sustainable as well. We plan to advertise to spread the word about this movement, constantly encourage students to be more sustainable using the knowledge we have, provide flyers, and provide students and/or faculty with resources that we used in our research that outline the benefits of certain behaviors. While many people are supportive of sustainable behavior, there is often a problem when it comes to executing the behavior and communicating it to others. By providing detailed guidelines outlining specific behaviors and methods of communication, we hope to increase sustainable behavior amongst all IES faculty and students.

1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters
Sustainable Lifestyle Webpage (Spring 2013).
Sustainability Education (Spring 2012).
Sustainable Travel Guide (Spring 2011).

1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Increase in sustainable behavior.
  • Positively affects the environment.
  • Sets a precedent for future sustainable behavior.
  • Modeling behavior is shown to have had success in the past.
  • Some people may find it difficult to follow the guide. Solution: Make sure that the guide is a step by step and informative guide, not leaving anything to the imagination. This way, there will be no difficulty in following the guide.
  • It may be difficult to reach out to others- they may be non-receptive of the idea. Solution: Explain exactly why being sustainable is better for the environment. Perhaps show drastic pictures to show how bad our planet will become if we don't take any actions to control our behavior.
  • Individuals can learn more about how they impact the environment.
  • Opportunities for leadership may arise in educating others.
  • Opportunities for bettering the environment, once individuals learn how badly they can destroy it.
  • The guidelines may not be followed through. Solution: Show why the guideline needs to be followed through correctly. Once again, show drastic pictures/scenarios to get the point across.
  • Some people may not receive the idea well or desire to explore it. Solution: Show how fun it can be to live sustainably. Show how much money can be saved in the process, as well.

1.3. Feedback loops

Now although the feedback loop may not be as readily apparent is it may be with an action that directly deals with waste, this action can, although in a less clear manner, be even more effective in completing a sustainability feedback loop. For example, for a feedback loop to be successful, an action such as recycling needs to be done in a way that will self-support itself...this is quite difficult since there are so many factors that affect this loop such as recycling regulations, transportation costs, pollution effects, up front investments, and many many more all to keep this in a stable feedback loop. With our guide, the only maintenance would be if someone thought that there would be a relevant fundamental change necessary...and since this is all on open source software, anyone can have access to edit it!
Not only are there components related to recycling, if someone follows our guide, which can contribute to a positive material feedback loop, but what our guide does, is even more. With our guide, a positive feedback loop can be instilled by instilling behavior in line with positive feedback dynamics. Most importantly, by using our guide, someone who is sustainable, will be able to spread sustainable behavior to other people, creating a positive feedback loop in regards to the spreading of sustainable behavior. For example, person A is interested in sustainability but doesn't know how to change her roommate's bad habit of leaving the light on. This guide will give person A the tools to help change and explain sustainable behavior to person B, empowering person A. This empowerment could make sustainability change exciting and make it so that more changes are sought to be accomplished.

1.4. Advertising
We think a good way to spread the word about this movement is to talk about it at orientation. Many students are not aware of the importance of sustainability in Barcelona before arriving here, so this would serve as foundation for future sustainable behavior. We also think holding workshops with similar material would be helpful as well. Advertising could also be as simple as hanging flyers around IES reminding students and staff to be environmentally friendly. In addition, it would be beneficial to include information about sustainable behavior once people have been accepted into the IES Barcelona program.

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?
The reason why this action will create more sustainable is two pronged: first, the people who are already environmentally conscious will spread and help educate about sustainable behavior to their peers who may, in turn, then spread that behavior to other people creating a domino effect, second, by having a guideline for people to teach and preach sustainable methods to other people, the very people teaching those methods will be more likely to abide by them (especially since one of the main components of environmental stewardship is being able to walk the proverbial walk as you talk the “talk”). By using various methods such as modeling behavior and framing stories in ways that people can more easily understand, people will be able to live more sustainable lives than previous.

2.1. Potential Costs
As far as we know, there are no potential costs in terms of money for students and faculty involved in this action. Rather, time and involvement is more important and may be considered a “cost.” IES administration will have to put time and effort into orientation meetings as well as possibly hosting and attending informational workshops throughout the semester. Likewise, students who are willing to attend will be giving up their free time.

3. How will you implement it
The implementation of this action is only possible with the collaboration of IES staff and students. We have outlined various steps that should be taken in order to achieve this goal:
1. Propose idea to Cesar and other members of IES staff
2. Provide them with specific resources used in our research that outline the benefits of certain behaviors
3. Explain how these behaviors can be applied to sustainable actions
4. Reach out to other students who are interested in the topic
5. Encourage them to reach out to their friends
6. Suggest that IES staff incorporate our guidelines into orientation / workshops

3.1. Prototype (or Proof of Concept)

Intro: A brief summary of what the guide will contain and why it is important to consider sustainable behavior:

Dear Students,

As you begin your study abroad journey here in Barcelona, we could not be more excited for you to begin your adventure. While the city has many attractions to offer, such as Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, the many shops on Las Ramblas, and of course La Playa, there are other important aspects to this bustling city that you should be aware of. In recent years, Barcelona has made a significant stride towards becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As we see it, the future of our environment resides in the hands of the younger generations – which means you! As students studying in Barcelona, there are countless things you can do to contribute to the city’s environmental progress. For instance, by purchasing a reusable plastic water bottle, taking public transportation and properly recycling, you are aiding in making our city a better place. You may not realize it, but your actions will ultimately have a long-lasting effect on our environment, so it is important that what you put into the environment is what you want out of it. In this booklet you will find a guide outlining ways in which you can maintain sustainable behavior during your time here and beyond.

Body: This section will contain a list of suggestions for implementing sustainable behavior as outlined in the resources we used for this project.

It is important to build a knowledge base. Sustainability is such a broad topic that encompasses so many different issues from food and water scarcity, to carbon emissions, and more. Because of its broad nature, sustainability projects are often interdisciplinary and can frequently require working outside the bounds of one’s expertise. There is plenty of information out there via libraries, resource databases, and news articles that can provide valuable background information before beginning a project.

It is crucial to be self-aware and to accurately leverage your stance on sustainability. By recognizing your position in an organization and the resources available for your disposal, it will allow you to most effectively influence others in favor of your objectives.

It is important to avoid groupthink. This is a pitfall, which you should actively strive not to fall into. Groupthink refers to the desire for harmony in group decisions, which can often lead to irrational decision making. This could drastically undermine and reduce the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives.

Exude positivity and optimism in your actions. It is easy to become frustrated and discouraged due to lack of progress on certain projects. However, by remaining positive even in hard times, a domino effect takes place, whereby others with whom they work follow suit in terms of being optimistic and enduring through tough times.

Resilience is an important quality to possess when dealing with any kind of project management. Not everything always goes smoothly and according to plan, and the ability to bounce back after a failure or unsuccessful initiative is a skill that is incredibly valuable. By remaining positive, one can learn from the failures or mistakes of past opportunities in order to successfully accomplish future goals and plans.

Expect and embrace conflict. Environmentalism and sustainability initiatives can generate emotional and adversarial reactions. If one anticipates these reactions, he or she can make a concerted effort not to take a personal emotional stake in the debate. If conflict is embraced rather than avoided, there is more room for creativity and further sustainable initiatives.

Connecting with the community is one of our most important recommendations. Listening to people and their perspectives is extremely important but it must be done with proper listening skills. Since sustainability can create emotional responses it is key to filter out some of the personal biases a leader encounters and focus on the suggestions that will promote the most positive change.

      • As of right now, we find these suggestions to be the most important to the ideals we wish to promote.

Conclusion: We will mention how students can become more involved in the sustainable initiative by getting in contact with IES faculty who are also on board. At this time we do not have specific contact information for all of those who wish to be involved.

3.2. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our action supports the Cradle to Cradle design because we are simply informing students how to change theirs, as well as others, behavior regarding sustainability. Our flyers will be created on recycled paper, and afterwards will be thrown in the recycling bins or can be used in the future. Therefore, there should be no waste from our action plan.
The knowledge that we are providing to students will hopefully spread not only to the entirety of IES students, but to students’ friends, families, host-families, etc. Slowly but surely, we aim to change the environment by giving people the proper knowledge and guidelines on how to be sustainable.

3.3. Flyers?
We will be creating a flyer, advertising the importance of people gaining the necessary knowledge in order to be sustainable. In order to reduce, reuse, and recycle, we will be making our flyers on recycled paper.
Image Sustainability Flyer

3.4. Incentives

Learning how to live a sustainable lifestyle not only benefits our environment, but our lives as individuals as well. Many people are currently living sustainable lifestyles but do not have the tools necessary to spread these ways to others. This gives people a chance to learn the tools they need in order to change their ways to be a better person for our environment. The positive affect attached to helping the environment, in addition to the positive reinforcement mandated by our guide, will strongly imprint a sustainable action.

More personal incentives to completing this action are monetary. Some actions such as using a reusable water bottle and taking public transportation will not only benefit the environment but save an individual's money that can be spent on other things. Also, by being resourceful and reusing old items individuals can invest their money elsewhere.

By following this initiative, it also provides leadership opportunities. The guidelines explained in the Prototype section outline ways in which one can pioneer a move toward sustainability. This may allow them to inspire other students and expand this initiative even more than we can even imagine right now.

These should hopefully inspire students to be interested in completing our action.

3.5. Relationship with the Other initiatives being implemented

Our initiative is not like other ones being implemented, but rather previous ones that have been proposed in the past, like the Sustainable Lifestyle Webpage and Sustainability Education. The other actions have components related to changing behavior, but none of them explicitly outline how to really and most successfully go about bringing lasting change.

3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?
We will provide guidelines to the next IES Barcelona group. With their help, in hope, our action will continued to be sustained for the future generations.

3.7. Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters

1. Sustainable Lifestyle Webpage (Spring 2013): This action is for the students studying abroad in Barcelona. It includes information about food, clothes, makeup, and transportation that are environmentally friendly, as well as sustainable. Their website also includes an information section containing information about various groups in Barcelona that perform work to lead a sustainable life.
2. Sustainability Education (Spring 2012): Information about sustainable behaviors is discussed to IES students during orientation. There is also an option to sign a pledge, in which students will try and be sustainable from incorporating various knowledge obtained from orientation. If students sign the pledge, they will be given a water bottle. At the end of the presentation, students are welcomed to travel on the Green Tour of Barcelona, in order to understand how the city of Barcelona is working to be sustainable.
3. Sustainable Travel Guide (Spring 2011): This is a blog about suggestions for traveling for IES students. This is a sustainable travel guide because there is nothing being printed, since all of the information will be in the blog.

4. Time-sheet / Chronogram
A table:

January Student must contact Cesar or another member of IES staff about guideline implementation Member 1
January Staff member will introduce guideline at orientation Staff member
February Student must create flyers advertising sustainability guideline and workshops Member 2
March Hold sustainability workshop with interested students Members 3,4
April Hold additional sustainability workshop if there is interest Members 3,4
April Update guideline with new and relevant information for future students All members

4.1. Who will do what

4.2. What has been done this semester?

We have met and spoken with Cesar about implementing our guidelines and he was very interested. He gave us some advice and we have been molding our plan to make it more feasible and are currently in the works of exacting our proposal. He said that IES would be even willing to subsidize and implement our plan. What we plan to do/the changes we’re going to make are that when the students arrive to Barcelona, they’ll be asked if they want to take part in an IES sustainability initiative in which they’ll receive an IES water bottle and a reusable and recyclable bag with the charges added to the account. This way we order the exact number of bags and bottles eliminating possible waste! We have created a template for the guide and have researched the best methods for changing behavior. Implementation of our action will have to wait until next semester when students can receive their sustainability package upon arrival.

4.3. What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?

What needs to be done for this action to be repeated on in the future, is for future students of IES, to take the work that put into it, see how it can be changed and revamped, giving them ownership in the process, and having them redistribute and use the guides. Also, the guides can be part of the info packet that students receive when they first start their study abroad program.

5. Document format
The documents we produced for this action were created using Microsoft Word on a Mac OSX. Using the necessary tools on Microsoft word, we were able to produce what we needed to implement our action.

6. Bibliography

Aronson. The relative effectiveness of models and prompts on energy conservation: A field experiment in a shower room. Journal of Environmental Systems, 12(3), 219-224.

Becker, L. J. (1978). Joint effect of feedback and goal setting on performance: A field study of residential energy conservation.

Cialdini, R. B. (2005). Don’t throw in the towel: Use social influence research. APS Observer, 18(4), 33-34.

Katzev, R., & Mishima, H. R. (1992). The use of posted feedback to promote recycling. Psychological Reports, 71(1), 259-264.

7. Other References
8. Annexes
8.1. Copyright license of your report
8.2. What did you learn and what did you incorporate from the feedback received?
We incorporated all of the feedback that we received into our final report. The feedback received was extremely beneficial in helping improve our implementation.
8.3. Acknowledgements
We would like to thank our professor for giving us the information we needed to understand about sustainability.

8.4. Students involved in this action
Lizzie: Formatted the SWOT analysis, similar actions from previous semesters, comparisons from previous semesters.

Page last modified on Wednesday 09 of April, 2014 23:46:29