How do we foster sustainable behavior? Douglas McKenzie-Mohr workshop aims to teach educators how to create lasting change

Doug McKenzie-Mohr Sustainable Change“The cornerstone of sustainability is behavior change”

I think, as environmentalists, we’d like to see people, altruistically, care about things that [we think] matter. Species extinction. Global climate patterns that are going to create millions of environmental refugees and spawn war and bloodshed. Ever dwindling wild places. But reality hits, and we realize that that’s pie in the sky. As a result of backlash against environmentalism as an elitist agenda, the sustainability movement has shifted its communication tactics to get more personal. Connecting the dots from people’s utility bills to the effects on polar bears, for example. Same ends, more or less…very different, and perhaps more effective means.

But yet…it appears that some people simply don’t seem to care that they’re dousing themselves in chemicals every day, paying through the nose to drive fuel-inefficient vehicles, working themselves to the bone to afford the luxury of sitting in traffic, and eating nothing but chemical-laden GMO junk food while dealing with one health crisis after another.

And if we can’t reach folks on those grounds, how on earth are we ever going to make real change, globally? Well, it might be that I’m still not quite good at communicating effectively to elicit real behavior change.

Fostering Sustainable BehaviorAn upcoming workshop in Honolulu May 13th-15th with Dr. McKenzie Mohr aims to change all that. Mohr is the author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior and Social Marketing to Protect the Environment: What Works. The introductory workshop, May 13th, will give attendees “sufficient knowledge to use community-based social marketing to develop successful programs to foster sustainable behavior.” It will cover five steps in the process: selecting behaviors, identifying barriers, developing strategies, conducting pilots, and broad scale implementation.

The advanced workshop, offered May 14th-15th, will take this knowledge to a much deeper level, including “exciting new developments regarding habit formation”. Participants will be coached in making community-based social marketing presentations to their own agencies or communities to help elicit widespread behavior change toward sustainability.

Check out the workshop agenda and registration information here:


Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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