Green Fever EcoCycle and Sustainability in Action

  • Kirsten Davies
  • Elisabeth Blik
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Green fever is infecting Macquarie University as it champions an innovative, people-driven, campus-wide approach to sustainability that will inspire universities across the world. A coupled human-nature framework, The EcoCycle is introduced in this paper, which will assist Universities to develop and evaluate future programs for behavioural change. The EcoCycle framework is applied to evaluate one of the University’s many sustainability activities, the Annual Department Sustainability Challenge. This program commenced in 2009 and operates at a minimal cost. In 2013, 37 Departments and 1,815 or (approx.) 81 % staff members voluntarily participated, competing for ‘sustainability stars’ awarded for their activities, including greening their offices. They received prizes, such as trees planted in critical koala habitat. The findings from this study demonstrate how the EcoCycle can be employed to understand and evaluate variables that drive or inhibit human actions towards a sustainable planet. Analyses of The Challenge highlight the importance of a whole-of-university approach that is peer and incentive driven and, most importantly, playful. Universities, as community leaders in research, technology and education are strategically placed to address global sustainability challenges. In the ominous context of the impacts of Global Climate Change, positive, constructive sustainability activities, such as the Department Sustainability Challenge provide an exemplar for University communities investing in a sustainable planet. This paper argues that potential program participants should be empowered to design their activities. This strategy ensures their engagement, emphasising that human-centric solutions are critical to addressing human-caused problems.


Sustainable development Behavioural change Decisions Environment University Coupled human and nature systems CHANS Socio-ecological Gender 



The authors would like to thank Belinda Bean, Sustainability Officer and Leanne Denby, Director of Sustainability from Macquarie University for their assistance in preparing this paper.


  1. Avey J, Avolio B, Crossley C, Luthans F (2009) Psychological ownership: theoretical extensions, measurement and relation to work outcomes. J Organ Behav 30(2):173–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chavis D, Wandersman A (1990) Sense of community in the urban environment: a catalyst for participation and community development. Am J Community Psychol 18(1):55–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cole L (2003) Assessing sustainability on Canadian university campuses: development of a campus sustainability assessment framework. s.n., QuebecGoogle Scholar
  4. Cubasch UD, Wuebbles D, Chen MC, Facchini D, Frame N, Mahowald Winther JG (2013) Introduction. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  5. Darnton A (2008) GSR behaviour change knowledge review practical guide: an overview of behaviour change models and their uses. Government Social Research Unit, UK. Accessed 2 Feb 2014
  6. Davies K (2012) Intergenerational democracy: rethinking sustainable development. Galla A (ed) Common Ground Publishing, Illinois, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. Derksen L, Gartrell J (1993) The social context of recycling. Am Sociol Rev 58:434–442Google Scholar
  8. Genskow K, Prokopy L (eds) (2008) The social indicator planning and evaluation system (SIPES) for nonpoint source management: a handbook for projects in USEPA region 5. Great Lakes Regional Water Program. Publication Number: GLRWP-08-SI01, p 169Google Scholar
  9. Gilg A, Barr S, Ford N (2005) Green consumption or sustainable lifestyles? Identifying the sustainable consumer. Futures 37(6):481–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hayles C, Holdsworth S (2008) Curriculum change for sustainability. J Educ Built Environ 3(1):25–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kollmuss A, Agyeman J (2002) Mind the gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environ Educ Res 8(3):239–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Liu J, Dietz T et al (2007) Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science 317(5844):1513–1516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lucas K, Brooks M, Darnton A, Jones J (2008) Promoting pro-environmental behaviour: existing evidence and policy implications. Environ Sci Policy 11(5):456–466.
  14. Macquarie University (2012b) Macquarie University annual report 2012. Accessed 10 March 2014
  15. Macquarie University (2013a) Department sustainability challenge. Accessed 24 July 2013
  16. Macquarie University (2013b) Our university: a framing of futures. Accessed 4 March 2014
  17. Macquarie University (2013c) Sustainability page. Accessed 8 March 2014
  18. Macquarie University (2013d) Human sciences web page. Accessed 8 March 2014
  19. Macquarie University (2013e) Get green with the team. Accessed 21 March 2014 (MQ see Macquarie University)
  20. Martin M, Williams I, Clark M (2006) Social, cultural and structural influences on household waste recycling: a case study. Resour Conserv Recycl 48(4):357–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McConnell W, Millington A et al (2009) Research on coupled human and natural systems (CHANS): approach, challenges, and strategies. Bull Ecol Soc Am 2011:218–228Google Scholar
  22. McKenzie-Mohr D (2000) Fostering sustainable behavior through community-based social marketing. Am Psychol 55(5):531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nye M, Hargreaves T (2010) Exploring the social dynamics of proenvironmental behavior change. J Ind Ecol 14(1):137–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Olli E, Grendstad G, Wollebaek D (2001) Correlates of environmental behaviors bringing back social context. Environ Behav 33(2):181–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stern P (2000) New environmental theories: toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. J Soc Issues 56(3):407–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wiek A, Farioli F et al (2012) The gap between science and society. Sustain Sci 7(1):1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environment and GeographyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

Personalised recommendations