Monday, May 11, 2009

UIC Climate Action Plan - how do you engage the public?

The UIC Office of Sustainability is creating a campus Climate Action Plan. One of my jobs for the office was to get the public involved with the Climate Action Plan - my job was to "engage the public." My first question was, how do you engage the public, especially around a document as technical as a Climate Action Plan? I started to try and refine the question by doing some brainstorming sessions with my colleagues. After a couple of these sessions, I saw an idea emerge: why not ask the public how to engage the public?

Now this might seem tautological but there was a point. The point is that any Climate Action Plan requires people to change their behavior. This is a tall order - it is hard to get people to change, but people do change. The questions is, what are those motivating factors - what are the things that get people to change? So, it was around this new idea of getting people to change their behavior that I designed the public engagement event.
The event was at the Jane Addams Hull-House museum during their Re-Thinking Soup Program and the participants were asked to brainstorm around this central question and related topics (see pictures above). It was a great event and thanks to everyone who participated! There were some really good ideas that emerged that the Office of Sustainability will use in the UIC Climate Action Plan.

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