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Communication is an essential tool for engaging the community, encouraging leadership and sparking creative action. There is an increasing recognition that much of the educational value of sustainability initiatives is lost when the story is not told. Motivating engagement in sustainability depends on communicating both the challenges the University faces and the opportunities that are available to help address them.

Goals & Progress

  1. Goal: Expand the discourse about sustainability on campus, in the local community and across the nation.
  2. Progress:
    • Released Sustainability Plan on the University website for broad discussion.
    • Developed brochure summarizing plan; printed limited number of copies and made PDF available online.
    • Ran stories and photos in each of 15 issues of the Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
    • Further developed many of those PAW pieces into postings (longer stories, additional photos and videos) for the University home page that also were provided to media and used in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin (faculty/staff newspaper) and newsletters of academic programs; 75 sustainability stories done in the last two years.
    • Publicized sustainability events sponsored by University departments that were open to the general public, including the 2008 sustainability open house attended by 900 members of the University and local community.
  3. Goal: Through the Office of Sustainability, collect campus-based stories from students, faculty and staff to capture efforts under way at both the personal and departmental levels that have not yet been documented. Encourage various communications offices across campus to further develop stories for their audiences.
  4. Progress:
    • Developed an online form to collect sustainability action stories from community members.
  5. Goal: Instill in students an awareness of their responsibilities as global citizens.
  6. Progress:
    • Established in the Office of Sustainability the Student Environmental Communication Network (SECN), which trains students to produce media stories based on their explorations of sustainability. Thirty-three students have investigated the nuances of what is "green" and learned the technical skills to communicate them through podcast and video media since 2006.
    • Created sustainability programs in Outdoor Action and Community Action that reach a high proportion of each freshman class.
    • Offered freshman seminars on sustainability related topics, including "Water: Keystone for Sustainable Development," "Science and Policy of Global Environmental Issues" and "The Everglades Today and Tomorrow: Global Change and the Impact of Human Activities on the Biosphere."
  7. Goal: Improve public access to information on sustainability issues by creating opportunities for faculty, staff and students to share their knowledge.
  8. Progress:

What's Next

  • Continue to document educationally valuable and community actions in sustainability to share with broader audiences; continue to carry out the communications plan.
  • Continue to use SECN to increase the engagement of the undergraduate population with sustainability issues.
  • Develop a more dynamic sustainability website.
  • Cultivate closer relations with external media on environmental issues, particularly national media; develop finely honed media contact lists.
  • Increase collaborations with outside organizations that have similar interests.
SECN interview

With support from the High Meadows Foundation, the Student Environmental Communication Network (SECN) has been working to better tell the story of sustainability to a wider audience. Read about SECN's work in the summer of 2008. Listen to or watch the students' podcasts and videos.


PAW solar energy story

This story and photo, originally prepared for the Princeton Alumni Weekly, described the solar installation at the high-tech storage library on Princeton's Forrestal Campus.

It also was posted on the University home page. And it was picked up by other media outlets, including national news website Huffington Post, local newspaper The Princeton Packet, and trade journals AZO Clean Tech and Green Technology.