Spring Courses Feature Campus-as-Lab Projects

Posted on May 12, 2015

This spring, two courses, "Designing Sustainable Systems: Applying the Science of Sustainability to Address Global Change," and "The Psychology of Environmental Decision Making" incorporated using the campus as a laboratory into their final projects.

In “Designing Sustainable Systems,” taught by Dr. Forrest Meggers, students redesigned a societal system not presently sustainable for the planet’s systems. For example, Gina Talt ’15, Maria Yu ’16, Kathryn Moore ’15 and Vivian Ludford ’15 created a mobile app and bike share program called “TigerCycle,” a bike-share program that would provide incentives for students to lend out their bikes. Keo Chan ’18, Kira Keating ’18, Joy Zou ’17 and Mickael Katz ’15 focused on "Redefining Beverage Storage" at Reunions, proposing that small, solar-powered cooling trucks would be more efficient than ice buckets in keeping beverages cold at Princeton's largest event of the year. A third group of students, Angel Fan ’18, Spencer Rodriguez ’15, Nicole Tatsue Sato ’15 and Hilary Lloyd ’17 focused on reducing bottled water usage in a project called "End Plastic - Drink Local," which called for using informative posters on campus and cautionary product labels to reduce bottled water purchases.

In Dr. Sander van der Linden’s course, "The Psychology of Environmental Decision Making," students designed behavioral science experiments and obtained initial results. One group of students, Taimur Ahmad ’16, Colleen Baker ’16, and Melody Falter ’15, focused on value orientations of those who took the Meatless Monday pledge circulated by Greening Dining earlier this year to determine the best tactic to convince less sustainability-minded students to take the pledge in the future. Their experiment resulted in about 100 new students taking the pledge. Another group of students, Drew Gower GS, Anna Menke ’16, and Alex Kasdin GS, studied plastic bag usage when norm-centric signage was displayed. From a sample of over 200 U-Store customers, the results demonstrated that biospheric, or pro-environmental, and normative in-store signage reduced bag usage. Another aspect of the experiment addressed customers’ willingness to pay for a bag, and the minimum discount needed to refuse a bag. A third experiment, “Getting Tigers to Recycle,” designed by Natalie Degraffinried ’15, Rachel Zuckerman ’17, and Misha Semenov ’15, proposed a campaign intended to motivate students to recycle by using door hangers with a variety of recycling prompts. After auditing the recyclables of two residential dorms over a two week period, the students determined that hangers with information about recycling and competitive language were slightly effective in increasing the recycling rate.