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Community Partnerships: Sustainable Behavior & Storytelling

Community Partnerships: Sustainable Behavior & Storytelling
Students from Jessica Nolan’s course on sustainable behavior stand around Jane Risse (center), director of The Greenhouse Project.

For her course on fostering sustainable behavior, Jessica Nolan, Ph.D., a psychology professor, partnered with The Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug Park, whose mission is to grow a “sustainable community through education, wholesome food and healthy active living.”

To aid The Greenhouse Project in its mission, especially in increasing awareness of programs, the students first studied sustainable behavior and then used tools associated with community-based social marketing. They were tasked with things such as designing an intervention message, setting up a booth at the Earth Day fair on campus and even selling plants.

The project, said Dr. Nolan, resulted in her students’ “reflective thinking about their personal and civic responsibilities and involvements within their communities.”

Other CBL courses that Dr. Nolan has taught have included her psychology of diversity students interviewing diverse members of the Scranton community, including Congolese refugees, building empathy and community between students and residents. After the interviews, students write stories about the community members lives in the first person.

“We’ve done variations of this storytelling project. We’ve found that there is value in telling your story and hearing it,” said Dr. Nolan. “Not only is it effective in inducing empathy in students, it gives the community members a sense of being heard. We underestimate the power of being heard and telling our story to someone who is deeply listening.”

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