The Inchworm: Making a new climate action plan a success, a little bit at a time

June 26, 2018 10 a.m.

Officials in the town of Princeton are partnering with University students in the Tiger Challenge program to find innovative ways to release and implement their 2019 Climate Action Plan.

Nine years ago, the town of Princeton released a 200-page Climate Action Plan, full of good ideas about how to make the community a more sustainable place to live, but few residents read it. So town officials are partnering with Princeton students to find ways to make their 2019 Climate Action Plan more widely known and followed.

The students, who discuss the project in the video above, are part of the Tiger Challenge, a co-curricular, design thinking program in Princeton University's Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. Tiger Challenge aims to equip Princeton students and program partners to tackle important and complex challenges by inspiring curiosity, creativity, compassion and the courage to take action. In small teams, students work with partner communities to develop lasting innovations and the joint capacity to address seemingly intractable societal issues, such as affordable housing and adolescent mental health. 

Last summer, the students learned about climate planning in Princeton through research and conversations with residents, municipal officials, Tiger Challenge advisers and sustainability experts such as Sustainable Princeton, a local nonprofit that is working with the town on developing the new climate action plan. The team’s “Inchworm” idea is to release the municipality’s plan one topic at a time — a concept that seems simple but hasn't been done before, as far as the team can tell.

Over the past year, students developed more detailed ideas about how to release the plan, and which audiences to target. The "Inchworm" is nearly ready to be put into action.